Zombie Apocalypse Now: Survival

The air was blurry-wet
when the undead arrived,

a director with his crew,
the red-eyed camera

trained on us,
ready to gobble up

our Vietnam War-fresh brains
for their American art.

We didn’t have lines,
we were “extras.”

We’d survived a war
to be cast into the margins

of our own story.
They say that cameras

steal your souls.
Sometimes, they do.

Sometimes, they pay
minimum wage

which is more
per hour

than I earned
an entire year

working as an apprentice
to a tailor.

Perhaps, three months pregnant
& not showing,

I threw myself
onto the dirt

again & again,

to be shot
in the back.

To the viewer,
I was dead.

I felt dead.
My lover

left me behind
for Paris

with his real wife
& his newborn son

christened Philip
for the Philippines,

the country where
he was born—

in Mandaluyong,
in a refugee camp

just north
of Manila.

The palms grow verdant,
in thick clumps

over the gun-gray river.
In this fertile air,

everything shoots up.
The movie men

planted rigging
into the ground—

so much napalm
faked: it looked

just like
the real thing. 

—Cathy Linh Che (Blackbird)