American Fangs

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Carla

Twice I read Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
Because of your enthusiastic recommendation

I was captivated
I was crestfallen

Thuy’s diary revealed her commitment
Comparable to that of Lan

The ardent Buddhist social worker whom I had read before
And assigned in my classes

But Thuy was overtly political
An unabashed Communist

Lan was committed to the Noble Eightfold Path
Which included Right Speech

Even when she’d been arrested in Saigon
She spoke sparingly and respectfully

To her captors whom she could see
Were like so may of her cousins and brothers

Reading Thuy’s diary as a U.S. citizen
Was a demanding spiritual experience

Turning page after page learning of her ardent hopes
For her country, her beloved and herself

Even as she knew how the U.S. troops
Went about their work in her country

She describes them akin to “bloodthirsty devils
stealthily sinking their fangs into our bodies”

And “I can only repeat our unchanging Vietnamese conviction:
‘There is no other way than to fight

Until not one imperialist American remains in our country
Only then can we have happiness’”


–from novel-in process, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris