Letter to Tom

By Steve 

Letter to Tom


My former brother

of another mother

from Vietnam

It’s been so long since we’ve talked

Last time we smoked



Spoke about

Memories lost

In the frost of


I hope people don’t understand that line

Just trust me when I tell you that drugs mixed with mental struggles only manifest in more trouble

And turns memories to rubble


I could still see the face of the friend

Who first put the herb in my hand

I think I was about twelve

Blowing clouds

That’s the kind of model minority

I grew around

You were maybe 110 pounds

But the machete you carried

Made you feel as heavy

As a levy

holding back

Generations of pain

Enough to make

A child chase

Whatever type of escape

An adolescence

full of aggression

Is sure to get anyone stuck in a haze

An inescapable maze

We used to have fun

Just playing

Where did we go our separate ways?

There was never an issue of race

Until there sorta was

“Friendly El Monte”

Is only true in some cases

We both shared brown skin

But different origins

And sometimes the homies

Weren’t cool with that shit

We’re both

Products of our environment

But as I’m writing this

I’m reminded just

How different our lives were

What’s it mean to be the son of a refugee

I was completely naïve

To trauma and damage

that warfare brings

Just shrug and pass it

Always blunt passing

Deep questions rarely asked

What’s the point of being sad?

“Fuck it man, that’s just my dad”

A statement I could also relate with

Just not the same


I’m sure you don’t remember the last time we talked

I wish I woulda told you how you shaped me as a person

You made me brave even

As a skinny little kid

Showed me how to hustle

Selling dimes and nicks

You’re the reason I first said fuck the police

I still can’t believe

How he had you pinned with his knee you were maybe 13

Since then it’s the finger for the EMPD

But I digress

I guess I’m just saying

I miss you

So when I see you again

Hopefully I have my piece or my pen

We’ll laugh and we’ll joke

Maybe this time we’ll cry when we smoke

But at least I’ll have this poem

A piece of me to take home

Either way Tom

I hope that you know

You will always remain my former brother from another mother from Vietnam

Live reading at the end of the bike tour, February 26, 2022

Letter to Tom