POEM: Hanoi Epiphany

I strolled the streets of Hanoi,

-past Starbucks, McDonalds, and American fast-food joints I thought had gone belly up decades ago.

-past young lovers on park benches sneaking affections,

-past vendor carts selling banh mi in brightly colored wrappers,

-past the stock exchange,

-past incense-wielding worshippers at the temple,

-past a dancing Minion selling electronics,

-past Christmas LED lights shaped like pine trees,

and I couldn’t help but wonder how it would look if we hadn’t sent 60,000 off to be killed, 2-and-a-half times that number to be shot, stabbed, mutilated, or fragged — not to mention the three million dead among civilians and enemy forces.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but I hope we do at least 50-50.

POEM: Hanoi

of egg coffee and banh mi

to rocky islands in the sea

tiny, tidy market stalls

to the mammoth shopping malls

once a town in ruin and rubble

I saw not an ounce of past troubles

maybe a bullet-pocked citadel

though it be true that war is hell

it’s also a terrible liar

as if the world could be remade through blood and fire.

DAILY PHOTO: Egg Coffee, Hanoi

Taken in Hanoi in December of 2015

 

 

Egg coffee is a Hanoi staple. It’s made with egg yolk, condensed milk, and sugar so it’s not exactly low-cal, but it tastes delightful. The scuttlebutt is that it was invented when milk was in short supply during the war. The beverage is said to have been invented at Giang Cafe, but I couldn’t say for certain that it’s the same Giang Cafe we were at (shown above.) However, the place did have the feel of a local institution. Imagine people huddled around tiny tables on stools, the floor coated with sunflower seed shells, and nary an empty stool in the multi-floored establishment.