Dieu on the Grass

We Are Here

After the Vietnam War, my parents risked their lives to leave a country that had been devastated by a 20-year long conflict. 2 million civilians perished in the country during the war with over 1 million military deaths on both the south and north Vietnamese sides. And then, almost immediately after the Vietnam War, their country was at war with Cambodia until the mid 80s. When my father and mother were in their early 20s, they left Vietnam with a group of people on a small man-made wooden boat that held no more than 15 people.

It was cramped and incredibly dangerous as they crossed the South China Sea. Many of the people in the boat prayed through each day and night that they would survive and reach safety. After several days at sea they finally reached the shores of Indonesia. Somehow in their confusion and exhaustion, they found their way through jungle to the nearest UNHCR refugee camp.

I was born in the refugee camp.
After a long wait of living there for more than 2 years, my parents and I were accepted into Canada with refugee status.

After we arrived in Canada, my parents worked minimum wage jobs as cleaners and labourers. They worked thankless jobs so that they could provide for their children. What money they could save, they sent to Vietnam every few months to support their extended families back home.

They struggled to learn a new language and raise their children, while also dealing with the traumas of their recent past. My parents’ struggles silently affected our family dynamics, but like most refugees they dealt with it as best as they could and avoided talking about the past.

As I’ve grown older, and learned how much my parents risked in order to find a better life for their children and themselves, I’ve realized that what immigrants have to do in order to survive and create new lives is something that should be honoured, not disparaged.

Whenever I see or hear people expressing fear and distrust against immigrants or refugees, I just think to myself, “Just because you were born here, and by birthright were given Canadian citizenship, that does not automatically make you a more patriotic or more valuable and respectable Canadian.”

When you voice distrust or fear against immigrants and refugees, I feel that as an attack on my parents and myself. When people cry out about “illegal aliens” from Mexico, I deeply feel solidarity with the migrants they disparage. I am no different from them. I see them in my parents and myself.

When people verbally and physically assault Asian people, accusing them of bringing the Coronavirus, they fail to see them as individuals, as people who are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants and refugees like my parents who deserve to be here as much as anyone lucky enough to be born here.

Whenever society is experiencing instability of any kind, we seem to always seek out visible scapegoats. We are invisible, but somehow are also only visible when you need an easy target. It frustrates me and pains me to see the hate, fear, and distrust against people who are just like my parents.

Please stop and interrogate and unlearn your own biases. Call out mistreatment and racism when you see it.

A classical face

I’m really enjoying experimenting with different brushes in procreate. This drawing is based on a classical sculpture of Apollo from the Farnese collection.

3 drawings

Experimenting with drawing on my iPad today. I started with a simple Matisse inspired line drawing and kind of took the drawing in 3 different directions. Which one do you think is best? I really do love the orange and blue colour combo.

A simple girl

I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be original. Even my own drawings (see below) are clearly influenced by the line drawings of Matisse and Picasso. It’s difficult to not let the love I have for these artists influence my own art. It can’t be helped I suppose. I don’t think it’s possible to not have what you see seep into your art. Whether it’s a sunrise or a Picasso painting, anything you admire will come out in your own creations.

All beauty, all colours

I’ve been drawing a lot lately, more so than writing. I go through different phases where sometimes drawing satisfies an aspect of my creative energy that writing can’t.

A day of beauty

Haiku of the Day

Haiku of the Day

I wrote this upon first waking up. For some reason, mornings for me are the best time for writing.

Abstraction of Fields

One aspect of the pandemic is that it has made me more creative being stuck at home more. I drew this with pen. Inspired by an aerial photograph of a vineyard.


Remind yourself this:

Spring’s first flower,

A cat sleeping in sunshine,

the red blush of a peach,

Are all beautiful without

a mirror or compliments.

I wrote this trying to express my thoughts on how useless it is to search for self-love in a mirror. A cherry blossom tree or a sunset are beautiful because they are unique creations of nature. They need no mirror to be beautiful. They just are. Like a tree, we are unique and beautiful creatures and that’s all we need to know. There’s no such thing as having thighs that are too wide or a nose that is too big. We wouldn’t say that a flower is too fat or too narrow, would we?

What Nature Provides

How beautiful are the grass, the leaves, the garden and the trees.

They do not care about the thoughts of men.

They have touched the bottom, roots tapping the deep dark earth.

And they have touched the sky, and rain, have burned down to only grow again.

They do not fear, because they have been

everywhere and here.

When at last we return ourselves to the earth,

It is the grass, the flower and the leaves

that will grow from us eternally.

Three Ways to Deal with Pain

Polish your pain

until it becomes a mirror.

What do you see?

Sharpen your pain

until it becomes a knife.

Who will you hurt?

Forge your pain

until it becomes a tool.

What will you create?

Be like a tree

I wish we could all turn into trees.

We would grow and grow forever

and never cause pain for anyone.

And our branches would move with the wind, writing invisible calligraphy in the sky.

Even when strong storms

break our branches

and tear out our leaves,

We would remain strong at the root.

And the birds would sing to each other. Which we would listen to everyday.

At night their song would remain in the dark

still glittering.

Nature Heals

This world

It’s impossible to exist right now and not be aware of the tragedies that are happening everyday. The only way I can make sense of anything is to write. I share my sadness with everyone who is suffering right now.

In times of great difficulty I always think back to a fortune cookie message I once found. “Time, nature and patience are the three great healers.” I hope you all have something to help you get through these hard times, whether it be spending time with family, making art, writing or being out in nature.

We are all human

The unconquered stars

Blink in the darkness

Like souls with no names.

And the people below

Make babies, make peace, make wars, make dreams

Then fade like

Shadows at dawn

With the shared stardust in their veins.

Black America

We must all be anti-racist

“Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Each of us is a branch of the tree of our society. At the root of this tree, deep down in the dirt, is the poison and rot of racism that generations of pain, death, and struggle have yet to cut out. This poison comes back to all of us. Some of us eat this poison blindly or happily, and spread it with acts and words of hate, or in the more benign, spineless defences of phrases such as “Well, I’m not racist, because I don’t see colour, I see all people equally.” That is not enough. If we want to destroy racism and white supremacy, we must cut it out root by root, which means looking deep down into ourselves, and others, and questioning our own learned prejudices and of those close to us. Non-Black people including myself must realize our own privilege and how we benefit from an unjust system. That is at least a first step towards change.

The poison of racism also debases the perpetrators of racism, because they demean and disgrace themselves in their acts of inhumanity. But, what the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Lloyd, and the countless number of Black people before them show is that these acts are not just abominations but they have become so common. And that is what is making people angry. Law enforcement must stop protecting their own that kill and do what taxpayers paid them to do: To serve and protect the people.

Haiku of the day


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