A Pill Bug Mutters Makeshift Myths

Tommy Vinh Bui Wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention Award

Headshot of Tommy Vinh Bui

Tommy Vinh Bui (above) wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize honorable mention for "A Pill Bug Mutters Makeshift Myths." Courtesy of Tommy Vinh Bui.

Every year, we award the annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to the poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is pleased to recognize four honorable mention submissions for 2024.


We lack the lexicon
to commune with rising rivers
or decipher omens from driftwood.
But the winter beetle
beset with dusty drought
remembers the river’s rhapsodies.

When bridges wash out
do we purge neglect
that bottlenecks our restless recall
and do we steel obstinate
while gathering indifference
like ancient cockles at lowtide?

The upper tips of redwoods
blot the morning rolling fog
startling clouds
and the pine needles
reinforce bird nests
turn brittle but warm
at the higher boughs
of ceaseless cyan.

Come, brother banana slug.
Hither, sister hyacinth.
And consider, cousin caribou
that we make amends
and remember our familial bonds
linking us toward half a chance
at avoiding an easy extinction

Tommy Vinh Bui is a Los Angeles-based postgraduate researcher examining the intersection of culture, space, and librarianship.
Explore Related Content
, , ,