OUT OF THE DARK (Collected Poems) - Mai Văn Phấn. Translated from Vietnamese by Nguyễn Tiến Văn. Edited by Susan Blanshard
Mai Văn Phấn
Vietnamese by Nguyễn Tiến Văn
Edited by Susan Blanshard
Page Addie Press of the
Publishing House of The
Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013.
OF THE DARK
(Bản tiếng Việt rút từ tập thơ "Hôm sau" & "và đột nhiên gió thổi")
Translator Nguyễn Tiến Văn
Poet Susan Blanshard
Waiting around the lamp
with its radiating, broken light
it seemed somebody was holding a
to examine each face one by one.
A game was invented to kill time
each person's face lights in turn
to name the way spring begins.
The following sentences were noted
− The cold-evading bird worked like an arrow
falling on the wall of winter.
− A face looking through the window
evoked coarse writing.
− A drop of mist divided
the root of a fresh grass into an abyss…
The casual jokes
became fatal in sky and earth
Things moved by themselves
the shadow of the mountain shuddered
birds called on the winds for a
change of seasons.
Raising the wick of the lamp
Hordes of arrows swiftly flew over
of the Crow
The smell of death draws the wick to the zenith
The crow shines brightly.
After the crow's croaking
The pouch has been opened
The herb doctor burned his books at the end of the garden
New medicines in stock had expired
The witches suffered punishment
Their mouths closed by iron hooks
When the bell suddenly dropped
Covering the old temple warden's head
The fish committed suicide by jumping into a cloud
Ten thousand fishing hooks, hanging in the sky
Ink was splattered under feet and blood
Congealed in throat and lung arteries
With a stroke on the first page
Thousands of pages were permeated.
Fallen from the summit
With two sharp wings
Centering on the corpse
Slashing the atmosphere
Hurried winds had no time for bandages.
Clawing from the eye sockets
With posthumous pictures as evidence
Cut out the tongue
Stretch to dry off in the sun
the slogan's lesson
Slice off flesh piece by piece
Show the innards
The skull all set up
Was completely covered with mold
This epitaph could not be written.
The crow dreamed
All deaths were arranged
After the crow's croaking
Who volunteers to lie down.
The crow flew into the room
A finger raised slightly
This is the gun muzzle
Even the spade
Even the very hard finger
Rather it was frozen
Then melted down.
Do not approach the shade
It was the crow
Spreading its wings at sunset,
With its claws clinging to the winds
To grind dry leaves
To prune outreaching branches
The poet took refuge in the shade
Each letter hollowed out of an eye.
To look at
Because in the wink of the eye
The shadow of the crow
One's own shadow
Did not raise its voice
For fear of turning into a chick.
A number of people emerged from the
crowd, clad in black, wearing black masks. While running, they slapped their
arms on their flanks. They tried to raise their heads by stretching their
necks. The black shadow hovered close to the ground.
Perched on a tree fork after
overeating and napping, the crow dreamed that every mouthful of food squeezed
into its stomach would turn into an egg. The crow chicks crept in groups from
the five organs and immediately lowered themselves to hunt with the instinct of
a bird of prey.
The utmost sufferings looked back on
a life almost dead. The cloak gave a muffled shout when passing desk and
drawers. The telephone slept silently. The staple opened its mouth to hide its
claws. The broomstick gripped the laborer's arm, and pulled her to the garbage
dump. The hat brim on the head cried out in panic, then bent down to devour the
entire face of the guard. Nobody opened the gate. Yet many people managed to
find an entrance.
The disembodied souls looked for a
way back to fight the evil crows. After the volley of non-lethal bullets, smoke
from incense joss-sticks spread onto a board, with the first word written for
the new lesson.
This is the last line in a testament:
“Start the celestial burial at the
appearance of the crow's shadow”.
The night shadow crept into the crow's belly.
And ours too. With gnawing pain together on the hungry river. The drops
of troubled water found a way to pass through cotton fibres. The huge surface
of water, its vibrations, wishing to keep hold of human shadows. Strike a match
and remember that the wick is very distant. Throw up both arms, raise your
voice alone in the darkness.
The crow out of sorts through the might
Craws in fright
For the first time the sound goes out without an echo.
Accompanying the Guest Out of the Alley
After brewing tea
When I returned
The guest was gone
Speaking on the phone
His family said he had been dead seven years
All in turmoil
No memory of when the portrait was
Where was the winding clock?
To whom was the fake ancient teapot
Dropping in on the neighbour
To check several food items
Some with higher prices
Some remained unchanged
In the house
The tea still hot
Pushing a cup towards the guest's vacant place
A deadly vapour six meters high suddenly rose up
Bowing down in front once in a while.
A bee flying into the room
was it made of plastic or wood?
a body scarred with half finished cuts
truly it had flown in
by fluttering its perfect wings
A bee should not be trusted
I checked for minor movements:
there were still 532
pages in an old book
I pressed my fingernail,
cleared the bowl of my pipe
tried to write the
reports, tried to sign my signature, tried to destroy dossiers
all domestic animals
were manufactured from waste:
the tri coloured cat was
born from rags
fish swimming in the bowl was welded from beer cans
the nightingale singing
in the cage was made from a broken pot
the dog rubbing its head
against my hand was a bundle of old newspapers
the ants patiently
carrying food were once a pile of sawdust.
When nearer to the earth and farther from the sky, my elder brother
trusted me with his memories. He told me his memories were precious. But my own
memory store was overfilled, mouldy and some thoughts were rotten. Outdated.
Obsolete. I suggested that we paint or write to each other. But he was in no
way an artist or a writer. I offered other solutions: stay cut-off, try to
restart, reduce down, stop suddenly, leave or disappear...
He looked at me, profoundly
I watched the river water changing colour, overwhelming
the shore's drooping grasses with smooth, shiny silt. Water silently exhaling.
I never knew. The moon rose early, childlike and smelling of straw. Missing
He looked at me,
The newly washed shirt was wrinkled. Then fragile fibres became smooth
under the burning iron. Washing, ironing, washing and ironing… Life
sometimes resembles the pendulum of a
grand-father clock. I try to fantasize so to keep from thinking.
He waited while I washed my hands. Affection I held for him.
He looked at me,
The water rushed from the faucet, infinitely cool. I looked at the soap
bubbles foaming on my wet polished skin. I felt very clean. Very refreshed.
It's Just So
he wore a kingfisher wool coat, low-crotch trousers
and was holding a book
at the door, he kept muttering:
morn & dusk… odour
& perfume… pump & leak… walk & fall… strike & love… sour &
ripe… silent & crying… close & detached, gulp & be stuck… reveal
& conceal… threaten & abstain… give & take… cover & discover…
mistake & die… dig & find…
fastening the wooden latch
stretching the sliding door
he clapped on five padlocks
then threw the keys indoors
Overturning the blankets on his sleeping spot
he found a piece of paper with clumsy writing:
“Whoever finds me anywhere, please
call this number…
Thanks and a handsome
behind the piece of paper an echo resounding:
spurn & be dirty…
shame & complain… dissolve & rest… dream & awake… invite &
The forearm and elbow must be hard
From the wrist to the fingers it must be soft
Dance the dignified hand in the bag
I have learned this lesson since childhood
(Once I suffered contempt as fermented boiled rice
A dignified guy once kicked me off the sidewalk
Once is enough for a lifetime!)
The dignified killed a mosquito
The dignified made a commonplace statement
The dignified inclined himself vacantly
The dignified stole a raincoat
The dignified exhaled bad smells into other people's mouths
The dignified mistakenly covered a rotten tooth
The dignified pissed in a public place
The dignified wept in his handkerchief
The dignified rectified his prick through his pocket in a conference
The dignified blew his nose at a windowpane
The dignified picked money from a beggar
The dignified eavesdropped on phone calls
The dignified peeped at women's breasts at a funeral
The dignified put his signature on scientific research
The dignified composed love poems in his impotence
The dignified dropped viruses into other people's emails
The dignified fraudulently substituted his exam papers
The dignified spent hell's currency
The forearm and elbow must be hard
From the wrist to the fingers it must be soft.
Only a Dream
They closed people's mouths
and asked for my genitals.
Asking is a way of talk
because if I did not consent
the precious organ would be thrown into the cesspit
(they also knew the secret of mantra).
you many take all
but let me keep something personal
I volunteer to be your plaything, your rag, your buffalo, or your dog.
I stooped to accept the yoke on my shoulders
I puffed up my hair and began barking loudly
I shook my body and cried “pip, pip”
I ground myself on the floor.
I ran around and foamed at the mouth
I was streaming with sweat, I pretended to be dead
I was broken, out of tune, burst off
I was drenched and could be squeezed out.
The Endless Dream
In memory of Diễm Châu, a poet
The rain made you cold no more
falling on the dream close to
turbid troubled waves
stroked on the mangrove swamps at
The sky was without a covering roof
the star shone brightly on thick
casually put on the keyboard
on the morning of December 28, with
The rain was bitingly cold to the
The earth was bitingly cold to the
Turning the pages in your open book
a child's cry was heard in the
in a bird's wings just spreading*
in a low-flying cloud
The winds rushed in
wrapping white scarves around
in the zenith the coffin
was rolling up and down.
(*) After a poetic image from Diễm Châu
In darkness swallowed up by darkness
he was sitting and muttering…
… mumbling an uninterrupted sound
of the unformed darkness
of the darkness gradually swallowing
of a blackness that couldn't be blackened
He was a climax of perfection:
of the restored mirror/ of the
moulted insect/ of lost virginity/ of the broken cable/ of unblocked sewage…
a waste dump of rags/ of broken
glass/ of tampons/ of outmoded shoes…
a stray bullet hitting the target/
the regenerative canals/ the river meeting the sea…
Gropingly climbing up the high tree
focus the light here!
Following the dim-lit flashlight
everybody saw him stretching both
arms to glide as an angel.
He laughed, raised his fist to
strike through the cut-out hole in the cardboard. The skinny fingers curled up
into an iron fist to dart through the unobstructed center. His hand looked for
the pleasure of a dog plunging through a great wall. The position of the cardboard
was of a too short distance from the flying fist. A thirst for breathing.
Each time he thrust his fist through
the hole, his fingers spread out wider. The cardboard became a swimming
jellyfish caught in a cluster of fishhooks. Turning over the cardboard, he
sung: The sky is blue, ah… here is my
On the other side of the cardboard
emerged another world. Of bulletin boards, old teachers, examination reports,
markets, badges of commemoration, sewage clearance workers, associations of
compatriots, monks, body shampoos, mouse-traps, prophets… And here even the
fashion was totally different (he thought so!). No wonder both fists could not
get through together (!)
He threw the cardboard into a
garbage can, adopted a rigid upright stance, and beat incessantly into the
conventional hole, thrusting in at a dizzy speed.
A prediction on the future of
sports. With a solemn title in the evening edition of the newspaper, his name
was seen in the roster of champions.
Coming in Thoughts
The eyes as holes cut out in a
bamboo lattice, the arms as sailing ropes, the feet as dried leaves warped up
on the ground. And his mouth, bottomless and opened, broke into fragments of
He used to get inside my thoughts.
It was not true to say that I feared
him. Or wanted to recruit him. No. Or being indifferent to, evading, even
respecting him…, not so either. But he was woven into each of my breath. My
wife explained: “Yang within yin, and yin within yang.”
End of arguing.
I rode my motorbike in top gear. I
gnashed my teeth. I clutched the back of his neck. Pulling him down to the
ground. Passing the rows of trees, new and old walls, as people's silhouettes
flashed at the rear. The target of my destination was to acquire the voucher of
trust and recommendation, the answers to the interviews, the preparation of an
envelope for a death anniversary, a meeting with a VIP… He stretched out all my
sensory organs, stewed my thoughts, and crucified my nerves between both ends
of the street.
The faces of my wife and children
were seen in the pauses between the advertisements of famous brand names.
He bargained over everything. A
broken branch was hanging on the tree thanks to its foliage, with the other end
pointing to the ground. Who would volunteer coming back as a bird, or as the
Many mannequins are gesturing in
these memories. None have distinct faces. He gave me free choice. No ballot was
I lost weight and suffered from
chronic insomnia. He brought several
prescriptions I never used. Then, mortally striking a pet, by accident, as it
played with other animals. And then, night after night, was heard talking to
fur in its taxidermy. Or, bribing a person in the operating room to enter in
disguise. And when the surgeon called for a pair of scissors, handed a threaded
needle, and an injection of dope instead of anesthesia.
Syndrome From a Rumour…
I paid double for a shoeshine
paid double for a pair of plastic
paid double for a fan, a pack of
Please don't put your arm against
don't snarl, don't narrow your
belly, don't curl your body…
I don't bargain over the my
children's tuition fees
don't bargain over the envelope
money at conferences
don't bargain over haircut and
don't bargain over the charge of
don't bargain over veranda refuge
from the rain.
don't bargain over chair rent on the
Just show the bill through the
put the change behind the glass pane
stoop to hand the bundle of flowers
look upwards to the ceiling and give
drink water as a robot
cross a crowd like a no man's land
post the fishing pole and do other
climb a rope ladder without
clutching your hands.
and rev your motor to go away.
Please don't crane your neck
don't laugh and show your teeth
don't puff out your cheeks and round
don't claw your sharp nails forwards
don't curb your body to drink water
from the river
don't tear the corpse of a cooked
don't crush brown flowers and fruit
don't stamp your feet or catwalk
don't curl yourself in sleep and
snore too loudly
don't shout or grumble under your
Remember not to stick out your head
Remember to speculate and be
studious in reading
Remember not to kick or spit on the
Remember to cover your mouth while
Remember to flush after using the
Remember to pronounce full words
clearly and roundly
Remember to raise your glass and
Remember to pull the blanket
squarely in your sleep
Remember to brush your teeth and use
… “… some brutish animals have left the jungle…”.
The house of the hamlet chief was
from the road running directly to
The book of feng shui teaches that
is a cause of disaster.
The book also notes
in the section on physical moles
on page 267, third line from the
about people with promiscuous
A dark mole was definitely
identified on the left eye of the woman in charge of collecting power bills
caught last night
when she embraced and kissed the
in a dog-meat inn…
report is made into five copies
with the same legal validity.”
The innkeeper knew potential trouble
when people came to search for
and interrogated him for five hours
returning home he was reprimanded by
“Stupid old man, even with your
He felt a bitter taste in his mouth
as anger rose in his throat
but thinking about the situation
he found it was entirely correct
after sneaking several cups of
he went in the garden to see
Next time keep the knowledge in your
Speaking up is no good.
I slept on the cot
The dog on the floor
at a distance of 3.75 meters.
my wife told me later
she made the measurement
It started raining
And the dog and I, we both started
The dog dreamed:
of waking in early sunlight
familiar with the scent of passers-by
no need to rush out and bark angrily
suffering no disparagement and beating
and having its familiar food readily served
of sleeping at night without locking
going out without being cheated
meeting people who speak their own
a glimpse of good dishes and bright
My tears woke me up
My pain was rolling in like
And if there was no rain last night?
If I did not sleep on the cot?
If the distance was not 3.75 meters?
The mouth flow probably belonged to
one moment on high
the next touching the ground.
the skeleton of that mouth now
withered to dust
Is it still bright yellow
or else dull black in an earthen
But the mouth is still alive and
sometimes tightly closed
and sometimes smiling tolerantly.
I have put word sounds into the
like I have struck on the key Search for a website
The results overwhelmed me
Did I fall into a slow ambush?
Or did viruses contaminate the
Or was a piece of coal just dropped
on a block of ice?
The mouth did not emit any sound
only a sequence of silent film
I have inserted the sounds of
the sounds of preparatory command,
the voice of one person
and also the voice in unison
The mouth is still on the flow
If requires only a thought emitted
The Story is
The cockroach crawled around me and
it was just reincarnated for three
and in the previous life it had been
a decent person
A decent person, why resigned to a
I did not believe and swung the
is your witness? Your evidence?
The cockroach raised one of its
yes, it might be taken for an arm
struggling from an iron vice,
or protruding from a luxury vest
of a person with a large mouth and
an upright back
walking with broad steps and stiff
I had to continue imagining
for fear of being struck with
The cockroach and I both joined a
both wore mouthpieces, both watched
both lured birds, and overcame
both wiped sweat, and both predicted
The cockroach and me were even from
It moulted. I was insensitive.
It nibbled. I was submerged.
It climbed the wall. I had petty
It eliminated. I made foul play.
It was stinking. I was stubborn.
It was probing. I cleared the way.
It was overbearing. I was stupid.
My wife said that to cure migraine
one has to lead a naïve life like
Returning to the countryside I saw
stretching both arms I waved with
like rock fans move to their idols'
I became tired after a while
a headache from the June sun
as I imagined spring rain
shady sky and gentle breeze.
My wife said that even a scholar's
without any physical exercise
amounts to nothing.
I threw a rope over the roof beam
and tied one end to my hair
even in attentive reading
my arm was pulling as a coolie pulling a fan(*).
My wife and I took turns to sleep
determined not to have more than one
both engaged in thought while
pulling the rope.
I gardened to nourish the mind
drinking a cup of water after
watering a tree
there were fifty-six of them in my
A bird's voice cast its net over the
twittering it wrapped me in layer
after layer of cocoon
to escape I had to break its voice
with my mouth
but my jaws were weak and my teeth
Hesitating in a poetic state of mind
I prepared tea and offered it to the
Before 1954 in Vietnam
there was an occupation for laborers in cooling houses and public buildings.
Ventilation and airflow was created by pulling a large rectangular fan made of
bamboo lattice. This was wrapped in cloth suspended from the ceiling and
equipped with a pulley. The laborers pulled the fan to create ventilation in
the heat of summer.
A Hypothesis For the Next Morning
Of a taciturn old man
free of sadness, free of anger
who stayed all night long with a
fish pole beside the swamp
to nourish his mind.
He dared not yawn
for fear of unawareness
swallowing all sorts of grasshoppers
into his belly.
I stacked firewood for his respite
and left a cup of water outside.
When the early sun together with him
relied on the foot of the great
set before the surface of the large
Or the ground that erased all traces
As I became a dealer of fictitious tales.
Perhaps under the black dawn
filled up with black fish
the wind might catch him with a
Early Morning Sun
Water collected at the mountain's
A pebble was lying on a high rock
Without blinking in pristine
Last night it rained
Who had been sitting there before or
after heavy rain
All of a sudden I missed you, truly
I dared not look elsewhere
Or let the blue sky penetrate my
A heavy rain, truly heavy
Had given a bath to the little
This single image by itself
Made me wildly enraptured with life
It seemed the early morning sun was
enveloping the mountaintop
And rendered transparent the earth,
and the trees.
Holding You in My Mouth
I always believe you are in my mouth
Where there is no war, no plague
No poisonous arrow furtively shot
No rumours, no traps, no deception
Where you tread has no sharp thorns
And I will raise a wall up against
all raging storms
You gently push your shoulders,
Your chest, your toes against my
Talkative and silently singing
You innocently let my tongue and
teeth touch your body
Secure in my mouth
I am a fish overfilled with
And leaving my school I leap into
the sea in movements.
Hearing You on the Phone
On the phone your voice sounds clear
A drop of water just absorbed
sprout just emerged
ripe fruit just dropped down
spring just flowing on
In the distance, at the other end of
the line, there are rice-fields, villagers carrying bamboo poles and baskets.
Vehicles and towers. Deep roots. Your voice does not cross over them but turns
them into miniatures, and opens passage doors of communication between them. I
hear you and with the help of deep roots, I can open up multiple sacred layers
inside the warm earth; the river flows into the poles and baskets; the villages
give birth to towers of fertility; the rice fields are green against traffic
Please say more spontaneous nonsense
In a moment when you put down the
receiver, perhaps all things would dissolve away or
return to the way they were
Only left with the rippling of
waves far away
Only left with the chlorophyll dispersing
Only left with the fragrance of tenderness
And the rocky banks in all their trembling
Carrying the Water Basin
It was raining
I carried the basin of water
From the closed and warm room
The rain was drumming on the tin
On each step of the staircase
My body and my breath
Were fused into the basin
Suddenly in my imagination emerged
the images of:
… pursuing you in the rain…
… you are bareheaded, dripping and soaked…
… I wear warm clothes, holding an umbrella…
… I am at leisure… you are at ease…
… you whizz past… I run out of breath…
… I keep my promise… never let you be wet…
But it’s so strange
When the water basin is held high
And your images appear in fragments
Their montage shows nothing of
With closed eyes the world appears
unpolluted. The surrounding pure spaces are spreading and latticed. We see
ourselves in childhood holding a bright candle in the church. The candlelight
is filling eye-sockets, filling the hollow immobile gaps amidst secret verdant
foliage. With closed eyes the forest resembles a garden. The rattan stems, the
ferns and wild grasses take the shape of huge ancient trees. The needle leaves form
a large canopy. The earth bee, the porcupine, the squirrel, and the bull are
similar shapes… And I stayed motionless for a long time with my eyes closed.
Even though my premonition had warned me, they were looking for a clue, fanning
the wind, taking fright… With closed eyes we can see people and all things in
justice and in a clear light. Pens and books, beds and drawers, knives and
chopping boards, and the old bike were of the same size. Each human organ opens
up with multiple strange eyes, while the venoms absorbed are permanently sealed
up with no way of escape. With closed eyes you are not so busy as when I am
with open eyes. But your silence makes queer resounding sounds, telling me that
your love has penetrated the trees, the streets and houses, the gardens, the
fields, and the rivers and springs… From now on we need not doubt anything
until we close our eyes forever.
New Year Bath
without attaining purity after
I returned to take a bath with the
I moved my shoulders towards the
then both hands
my feet, my chin, my knees
even both eyes and my dry coughing
pouring light into all hidden
each of them working as a germinator
as a forge to temper hot iron with
as an incubator for eggs
as a grafted trunk sticking out
taking a bath to welcome the new
immersing oneself in light
while silently evoking grandparents
the body rises towards the lamp
light pours profusely while I called
it was hovering in pregnancy
I tried to call somebody in the
the still lamp became all the more
The Wind Blew
We kissed each other in the narrow
on the green lawn, in dark corners
on the belfry, beside old trees…
From the four directions water
overflowed and made our feet wet
when the wind blew powerfully
Like an inchworm you climbed on my
and whispering, nibbled all my fresh
The bee still hovered leisurely in
the waterfalls were monotonous, the
rain very slow
but all treetops were decanted in
The raindrops fell. You reminded me
that we were once drops of water. Purely you fell on me. So I could know nature
and all things around were made of water. All of you waited for my approach.
The block calendar was opening to the new day. The floor, the picture frames,
the furniture were always clean. Fragrant tea had just been poured. The bowls
and chopsticks were already steam dried. The knives and scissors were suddenly
sharpened. The books were put in order. And the door latch opened by itself
when I went out.
Wearing a showerproof coat you looked like a cocoon
moving on the street. Vehicles crisscrossed together with human threads. Piling
up and encroaching were the fashion of jeans
and trousers, made with coarse fabrics, and textures intertwined with silk… It
all started with you and your baggy coat. The mobile cocoon on a motorbike,
sending a message through a mobile phone: I
finished the conference. Remember to wear a helmet and drink lots of water.
Ten minutes had passed already, you only went to buy several measures of rice,
and maybe you just crossed a one-way street with a turning. Or else you also
bought milk for the baby, at best you could, only getting close to the
roundabout junction of five streets.
You passed through each scorching
sunny wall. Through houses as large as baggy coats.
Today you prepared sour fish soup
with some onion stalks added. You asked me why I ate so slowly. I heard, and
felt wretched as an onion stalk in early summer rain. The sounds of fish
splashing in surprise during a silent night. And the perfume of spices
pervasive at the wall's profundity. The bowl of sour soup was like a deep well
with its invisible bottom. You were too silent within yourself to make the
onion stalk done to a turn. We were like worms and ants self-confident in
overcoming so many entrapments. We survived even after having drunk poison by
mistake. The blinding enchantment of human merchandise in the market.
The hot soup bowl opened the door to
our narrow living room.
The trace of my lips was like a
woodpecker on an old tree. Its little beak rendered the forest tree new
foliage, and the rotten trunk as resurrection. The green canopy was enveloping,
murmuring, and ascending. With closed eyes, I heard inside the tree trunk, the
rising of the sun and a shooting star in its wandering. The four seasons of
weather excited the woodpecker’s instinct. Looking upwards. And then downwards
at the tree trunk I reverently said a prayer:
to the rain at the source, to the lightning, and the passing clouds…
to the early mist, to the earth, to darkness…
You were quiet in the late
afternoon. Birds mingled their songs. Your forehead opened into an endless
field of yellow flowers. Your feet spread wide to allow the flow of murmuring
water. Your back upright – the caves in the cliffs – the light – boring deep. All beings are one, and where does one lead
to? Appearing and disappearing in space is a great vase. Who is coming in a
transparent drop of mist? The thunder resounding intensely. The fragile flower
set forth in freedom…
Your mouth revealed a quiet garden. Bees gathered to
their hive in your eyes. You looked up at the condensed drop of amber honey
slowly flowing into a cup I wore, a garment shy of ironing and wore shoes
without polish or shine. The garden was peaceful in Autumn. But from your
shoulders Summer was descending. The azure up to the horizon blurred the low
billboards. I could not prevent you sweating in the June sun. But the sweat
softened the rock, the burning trail, and also the tree trunks.
We were radiant in the cover of
darkness. Fused into the veins of wood, and the weavings of baskets, the light
you find in filaments of electric bulb… We cleared the way and we celebrated
one another. To become candlelight and clean water. To become fresh flowers for
offerings in the worship of ancestors. The river flowed swiftly to rescue the
burning forest. The sharp knife cut into sweet fruit. The separate rocks flew
with the wind. We heard milk gather in each blade of grass, the eyes of
ferocious animals cleared away darkness, the bitter drops flowed towards the
gall, and cinders were buried under the furrows. We stretched ourselves to
become other people, to be seeds saying farewell to the storage yard and the
kitchen soot, farewell to baskets and jars… to crawl into the earth.
For My Recognition
You were in sound asleep and knew
I was watching the raindrops
the sparse darkness outside the
the foliage overbearing on my chest…
suddenly I saw the road
incline itself in the night.
Appearing and disappearing yesterday
in your breath
a newly painted bulletin board
a peddler with her baskets, a
wedding passing by
a dispersal of shift workers, some
fish in gaping form
a visit of an artist with his newly
The silent waterfalls were
descending with might
the soles of the shoes were ready to
the wall opened into an emergency
it was drizzling with droplets or a
flight of grasshoppers
the whole house hurled itself
surprised and exhausted at the
meeting with dawn…
I pressed an imaginary phone number
to tell you everything from my
Selection of a Scene
In a dream I lay down on the beach
with your arm as my pillow
you thought the sea in this place
was eight meters deep
could read your mind)
with clouds and seagulls
I brought my dream downtown
at breakfast I saw myself as a
boiled in the broth
in a pot eight meters deep
Visiting a friend in a narrow alley
his house number plate looked like a
boiled in the broth pot
his voice echoed from a depth of
As I half-closed the door to prevent
a vague warmth penetrated deeply
I saw the distance from the foot of
the chair to the statue
the sound of woodcutters resounding
among alien faces in a soup eatery…
it was equivalent to the distance
between clouds and the seagulls
an exquisite beauty above the depth
of eight meters.
Morning at office desk. Opened the
agenda to note down tasks to be done. Your hand came from behind the page to
grip my pen firmly. A line had just been drawn with a trembling hand.
Hovering around like a fish, you
− Your room is too narrow.
− But it is cozy.
Seeing your breasts in all spherical
things. In the lampshade, the paperweight, the teapot and cups, the vacuum
flask, the TV station, the wall clock, the ventilating fan… And you teach me
how to breathe: Take a deep breath into
your chest, and push everything down to your feet! You gave me new
The way of your limbs
Once the leaves flow to leaves
the moon rests immobile
The way is fixed
and raised with the horses’ hoofs.
You are the canopy for my resurrection
Your hair all shade and roots
the lofty tree trunk stands upright
in the imbalance of low-pressure
to rise up in body heat
pushing from our innermost earth
from the marrow where the
concentrated spirit dwells
to protect sentient beings
distilled from you
extracted from you
and I am not
Jumping madly from the height of
The thundering of waterfalls, or the
howl, the groaning, the voice…
Water foam tosses up and runs away
Together we reflect on the colours
of a rainbow.
Going alone to the sea
Homesickness is tied to the hair
Your body flutters before the ocean.
Each face is embedded within
another. A riddle opens up our imagination. You in an empty place, I blow into
your toes, invading space, as I inflate your body. The breath begins such
moments. Your feet stuck on my shoulders. Drops of sweat shine in darkness. Let
our soft tongues tie us together…
My mouth still keeps the fragrance
of fruit and tea you have taken. Cake is sweet with cream and cinnamon. I still
remember. The chair so large. When your shoulders sprouted flowers, my lips
light up the sacred lamp in the dark corner. The flower could only speak of a
tiny part of the bosom of the large earth. The entrails of this earth tremble
when the flower stands still.
Light has been torn up. In one
morning. It is really pathetic when we see each other as the fish with
protruding eyes. You throw reflections on me, of various strange flowers.
Mental derangement is easily liable in an enigmatic world. No, we still have
speech. Each word evocable, then appears as a truth. The evidence of truth
upturns all conventional wisdom.
Go to the suburbs for a space of
relax. Focus on one point against the blue background. Because we like a cloud
flying while self-centering. Your breath suddenly rises up from grass roots.
Last night there was a heavy rain here. Also tornados and soundless lightning
flashes… Before that, you were waiting for me.
Love one another. Those are the
rites to celebrate heaven and earth. My element is Metal and yours is Fire.
Earth, Tree, and Water are all derived from Fire. Earth trembles. Water flows.
Thousands of budding sprouts blossom from the body.
The Season of Plum Flowers
The forest of buds is waiting for
your approach to blossom, a multitude of white flowers unfolding rapidly.
I am a tree of white plum in the dry
and cold rain of Spring, and my flowers turn whiter and whiter with poignant
The season of flowers is
magnificently breathless. You should not be hesitant when you walk for fear of
causing pain to the earth, even if fragile petals will fall down.
Mountains and hills pile up together
to help the blossoming of flowers. Cold air and
breeze are enveloping. I see a vision of a white horse, as
it gently approaches you and lowers itself down.
Every time Spring comes, the roads
and fields are jubilant, we love each other and the flowers are in bloom.
The Song of Harvest
Spreading quickly, overwhelming
reclaimed virgin land
You drop one burst of wild flower
to whirl me up from the house with
its small garden
The birds cut up immense space and
leave lines of endless flight
My roots reach up to your verdant
Every sprout sprays warmth to wet
the bosom of earth
from the breathing that transforms
from the empty sky that builds
The thatch eyes burn up the old crop
To change our vision and the vacant
The earth accepts all burning
The new season comes with
self-confidence, grinding and wiping out all
The kiss is silent, radiating heat
and boring into entrails of earth
touching underground veins swollen
with old mysteries
The fertile earth fused with dawn
offers up a face
with exuberant plants and trees in
The seasons of resurrection are
pregnant with ripe ears of paddy
The thunder bursts out in the palm
The cycle of fresh alluvium embraces
fibres of earth
You bow down and all of a sudden,
the river rushes in.
Sky Is Spacious
You blow in the warmly ardent season
Trees wither for lack of water not far from the river swollen in
The fish grinds up the hook and upsets the order of time
I shrink up to fly into infinity
The tower raises multi-directional sensory organ
Your braided hair is glorious like a beaded open-air crown
and your skin resplendent as the back of the moon
sweet fruit and golden paddy resplendent as the back of the moon
the timely seeds stand up proudly
the thunder, lightning and tornado are self-confident,
but when my grandparents’ silhouettes are seen
through the perfumed vapour of cooked rice, I burst into tears
Overwhelming absorption and sudden revelation
are woven into horizon of clouds in every circular breath of hope
to trigger the drops of drizzle in the chest
and the leftover food preserved in memory
Truth makes the letters jump out and they cannot be withdrawn
we are all more self-confident when we wake up and see the symbol
engulfed in the mouth of fire.
One’s Wish List
The bells ring out
in metamorphosis and being
the mountain top hides the contracting and stretching trail
the you of yesterday is unrecognizable
the horse is out of breath
dizziness due to an impression of grass
the bundle of tongues being cut-off, follow one another
piercing the heart's blood to fall on loose soil
growing into fresh hands behind our back
I fiercely plunge deeper
in wait for resurrection among soft hair
covering wild eyes
and go out relaxed
disdainful of the monument
suddenly erasing the things known
buried in the sun, in the fathomless night, in stagnant waters
erasing the plump body
with rubbing fingers
groaning clouds in flight
stretching the cricket’s chirping
water suddenly screams in delight through the
abundant river mouth
the trees are jerking their canopy in disorder
the rising leaven in the pitcher's bottom
flows through my mouth
your soft body
a body of perfume or fresh grasses just sprouting
the right to one’s wish list
Many signs of spring appear
Heavy clouds. Peach flowers in bloom. Rotten driftwood.
I tell my children these things.
My child closes her fingers to make a long whistle
calling the train moving through my chest
My head is roaring
And my feet are shaking
the black wagons follow one another in hardship.
My children are debating about time!
it the moment the bright red flower falls unwittingly on water surface
the time of the ascension of purified souls?
it when white clouds suddenly hover over warm hands
when warmth is heard in each young bird’s voice?
The Flowers in Autumn
It’s about to rain. The foliage, the veranda, and the little umbrella
will not cover you enough. Everything is in turmoil. The passing truck throws
dust over human faces. Leaves are falling in turns. The wind blows a tiny
flower pecker bird against the hedge. The same wind opens up my coat into a
The rain will bring the perfume of grapefruit
flowers down to the ground. The road will become slippery. The dragonfly
flutters its wings on the dim treetops. Views of lake and summit of the high
tower are gradually hidden. The rain will break the space I have just
The wall surface is still dry. The wind clears out the road
in front. The ground remains cracked with wrinkles of
thirst, spreading across the open air, palm’s
Is it the first raindrops or your fingers touching the doorframe, after
traversing the empty space that is still warm with sunlight?
Kissing you when the rain falls
the soil resurrected in freshness
The seed germinates then leaves
You weave me into smooth grasses
the climbing flowering plants stretch their arms
to call the ocean’s opening of river mouths and lakes
The lamp oil and the small flame
the listening ear and distant thunder
cause the pen’s ink to run on white paper
high columns are set up on the floor
the mighty lion swallows the small animal
steel comes from the forge, mountain rock is baked into mortar
Calling green fruit to cling to branches until ripe
disregarding the bat sleeping upside down late evening
the wind rushes in whirling among the reeds
You and me are condensed into cool water
the rain of our kisses recreates the world.
Drinking cold water. The perfume of roses
sunlit clothes, and your hair’s perfume
lingering around the cup. You tell me to stay as bright as Summer
forever. The ardent light pouring down changes what I see. The cup of fragrant
tea, the inkpot is more concentrated. The embroidered picture, the table lamp
are more withered. The button on my chest turns stiff, dry and curled. The sun
sets in the cup of brandy. I close my eyes to see your image and white clouds
drift back again. I dwell in the smell of orange and grapefruit flowers, in the
coarse calling of birds. Darkness trembles as it makes contact with the breeze.
I take a long look at yellow flowers, at wild chrysanthemums, at luffa flowers…
a whole picture of deepening yellow. I take a long look at various hairstyles:
floating, shoulder-length, curled, flattened, sprayed, ironed… yet I know nothing
about hair fashion.
Drinking cold water cuts off every one of my thoughts like an
interrogation, a pursuit, a red-handed catch.
I am a bub of water banyan, a perilla leaf, a mugwort plant, a senna
flower, a bitter gourd fruit… Picked up by you to prepare in mid-Autumn.
The hairpin you bought in the supermarket of make-believe ivory, agate,
I offer you another hairpin.
Mine was carved in wood, selected from a tall tree. Clouds gathered
heavy in my hands, and your soft hair tightened on your shoulders. The gorgeous
sunlight spread out on the red brick veranda.
I shut down the sunset, clouds, the hearth, the tree shadows…
Your hair knot was woven into a cozy nest in my chest. The
young chicks hatched like so many twittering dawns.
The coffee cup in the morning
the swirl of water in the river
the eye of a distant storm, of wind…
The eye of a bird-less silent tree's shadow
The eye of a car light's absentee owner
An alien look caught behind one's back
The eye of the Municipal Theater, of Three Bank Lake
The eye of the Edge Bridge
on King Lê Thánh Tông Street…
Someone's fallen hat turned into a pit on the street
The sky left vacant by passing clouds
Hey, the cup of brown coffee
Why did you leave the breeze to pour in condensed drops of mist?
The condensed early morning sun with its protective vapor
From the noise three steps away.
At the distance of three steps is another life
Even yesterday's stories are difficult to figure out
In uncertainty, people are contracting coughs
The clothing, the laugh, the handshake are altogether different
And other rivers raging and strike relentlessly on the
I added sugar and ice cubes to the cup of coffee
Silent with you in all three steps.
You were absorbed in reading
A book about love in the country of cherry blossoms
Where the trees are in the budding season
The stories about encounters between girls and boys at train stations…
in bars, on the beach, enjoying cold food
That happened only in the Sixties.
− Love seems to be the same everywhere, in
− The paperweight now appears heavier. The
computer is running on a large desk.
vacuum flask I boiled yesterday is suddenly boiling in high spirits. Can we see
infinity through a narrow door, across hidden walls, beyond a winter of vague
and cold smoke, our hands extend as they stop water, obstruct the sound. Each
insect’s voice, each splash of water from faraway nights is heard from the
Please put a kiss on my chest and
where my heart is beating hard
beneath the thin coat
in my breast pocket where once you
tried to hide both hands
in such a moment my breast pocket
grows extraordinarily large
so you can store all your favorites
or enter at leisure, comb your hair,
and sleep soundly…
The handbag you usually carried
contained many things, several pads of paper, different kinds of pens, your
make-up set, a mirror, a comb… The sun arranged into bright diamonds where you
walked. The next day, the sun wove brighter diamonds to bring you here. Every
day you changed your clothing style. Each garment had a specific accessory
scarf, hand gloves, and lipstick… Every style fitted you. I dared not admire
you for fear of being blamed as an everyday flatterer.
Maybe I am really an everyday
The everyday was confused by the
colors of your dress which have created a natural environment of fertility and
diversity… Also the utensils, food, drink… The colors of your dress created my
All your nonsensical sentences
helped the further weaving of sunlight into brighter diamonds. Only the handbag
you carried was real. When will you open it up?
Embracing you and listening to the
music of water flowing over large mountain slopes, the petrified shells and
mollusks woke and swallows’ nests on the cliffs were sparse… The trees and
plants, the road, and even the pebbles in the surroundings
showed their strangeness. They seemed separated from us,
yesterday, since centuries ago. Or our silhouettes, and our spirits of innumerable
previous existences, were nervously waiting
Your breath had just opened the
ancient space, verdant green in the early morning rain, linking the sky with
the immense earth. The ruminants of bees and butterflies not yet created.
Your feet piled up each rock and
built up mountains. Holding a tiny pebble I felt pity for the sun and rain, and
did not know when could I return my debt to you!
You and me were the roads with so
much foliage, many signboards, roundabouts, and junctions… Now we become one
with edges of smooth grasses, and double compassionate steps, our landings, and
The mirror of your chest reflected
my sincerity. I remember the first time on the beach, I let my body immerse in
the sand, and remained silent in the expanding immensity of infinity. A vague fear
of an inadvertent storm, a sudden tsunami in the middle of dark night. Touching
water, plunging into the depths, I wished for an unending cessation from
I also remember a dream of becoming
a grown-up. The barefoot and naked children with corn silk bristling hair,
chased me from the playground. I did not cry but stood by the tall people. I
tried to speak in a loud voice to reach a girl hiding near the riverside… Then
the rats fighting amongst themselves in the paddy
mat enclosures, woke me. Rapid breath. But I still
keep in mind the end of the dream… The magma gushed out in the distance. And
the ardent horizon sank deep into infinite gentleness.
Then it was Spring
yellow leaves turned green
Watching the leaves
standing among the leaves
I left you absent, by mistake, in my
The vacancy later recognized
caused the raining down of Summer
with your name written by lightning
across the sky…
Causing a strange bird to sing in
the empty garden
the herd of goats to gnaw yellow
the crabs to withdraw from the sea
in ebbing tides
and the oars to fall along and
across in water…
The breeze followed your digital
your fingers drove each breath among
the thin blanket became cold in the
oh, preserved apricots, sour
tamarinds, and piquant grapefruit…
Spring came late this year
136… 123… 97 days still remained.
In periods when beehives were divided
I remember several times I made you cry
and your teardrops burst out on your breasts
Holding your hand, I said:
faint sunlight entered the door recess
grains of dust brightened and rapidly flew by …
pale young chick on the high nest
its feathers deep under its soft skin…
many sharp thorns on the innocent ground!
Looking at each other, I was told:
lotus calices were bewildered at season's end…
crimson food trays… the uneven chopsticks…
deep caves receptive to moonlight…
leftovers became antiques…
dry firewood…in unfinished burning…
Did the swarm of bees fly away
or did you cry inadvertently?
You genuinely and serenely looked at me
No, two halves of a fruit, two bright candle lights?
two suns rising from the same horizon?
two electric switches, two tree stumps recently cut?
two crevices, two mute speakers?
two signs of prohibition, two bags of honeybees?
two seeds with cotyledons just sprouted?
two numbers asking me to make an addition?
two fallen leaves, two unfinished burnings?
You could not share your private hurt
oh, the drop of water, falls to earth
and asks the shade to shelter sharp pain in the roots
Not seeing me
your eyelids were trembling…
The pebble touched the lake bottom
but the ripples of water were spreading forever…
You spoke about the pebble
tossed towards the sky in negligence
I kept silent and listened to the lake…
… with a boat moored to the stony bank
moving up and down with the waves by itself through the night…
… a bittern’s cry was not melting into water
the rising sun was wearily searching in mist…
… someone’s voice was striking at dawn
waiting for daybreak to water the plants…
Leaving the city
you followed me to the countryside
The hearth, the riverbank entered your sleep
Memory was resurrected truly oddly
hovered around the bamboo shoulder pole and baskets in a dream
and was only in balance during heavy rain…
When the riverbank opened endlessly
clusters of water hyacinths followed the flood to completely
cover the river's surface
until they suffocated, causing the early arrival of evening
shrimps and fish hanging noisily across the sky…
The hearth flickered with its tiny fire
mother’s eyes looked at you from distant streets…
let the paddy agonize among thatches
and explode like rain with the contact of embers…
The hearth lit up and hurried the early morning dream
you were by yourself, busy with wet firewood
and bitter smoke got in your eyes…
The riverbank appeared muddy and eroded
with exhausted thorny grasses,
galingale roots, and couch grasses…
a surprised fish flapping in soggy mud…
A fat duck, a buffalo with a bruised nose
A dog with white patches, fireflies, a black cat!
I remember living with you in steady rain and torrid sun
needles with thread ends, the bamboo pole and baskets were in decline…
The table lamp shone on your dress. A face partly appeared in the
distance. Tiny flowers left the flap of the tunic cold, to return to dike
slopes, hilltops, fields…
The early wind of the season clung to me, from the horizon fragrant with
honey grasses, noisy with bees in flight, and with the murmurings of water…
When cold beer flowed into the arteries, in sunset's afterglow, there
appeared lamp lights and tiny flowers. The alley receded deep into infinity.
Some guys at the next table were already drunk, their hesitant laughter and
talking echoed from horses' backs. Bowls and chopsticks were in disorder; wild
grasses encircled the house. Empty glasses hit one another
noisily. The evening afterglow flew fast over the pages of the
inadvertently closed book.
The extreme lightness of the wind pushed me into
Grasses grow together
to continue the dream's of earth
with grasses on the backs, with grasses on the limbs
No need for thunder, lightning, or gathering of clouds
we rain on one another the rain of green grasses
and the sun spreads gold on the earth surface
The rain of green makes our eyes overflow to the treetops
weave into one another until out of breath… dumb… suffocated…
Clouds wear shoes and sandals, jewels
and the clothing we have just stripped off flows rapidly
The bodies shine up in the perfume of grasses
in wild chrysanthemums on dike slopes lighting up innumerable tiny
The dragonfly needle sticks its legs to a coarse rock
protecting every ferns' resurrection
Black ants are mingled into sand and gravel
Insects now stay motionless behind foliage
The flock of brown sparrows that cannot find perching branches
fly up in fright and break out of the empty sky
Dry leaves falling in drafts
Strike up joyful chimes of bells.
Our voices are underground veins gnawing pangs of earth
offering to the horizon the warmth of mighty forests
Eat this juicy dish, drink this cup of tea. Give you the grain of salt,
the towel, the sauce. With soy sauce, eggplants, string beans and perfumed rice
too. As I was leaving, you told me to be steady in eating and sleep, to take
another spoonful for your own sake. I was a king crab swimming around a table
laden with food. According to the rites of the species, before eating I must
raise the food as an offering. Always remembering you are on my back, the queen
crab covering the entire earth. You are a slow-flying cloud, a fan-shaped dawn,
a bristling lioness, a quick branch-hopping squirrel. The wind blows and
entwines my legs. The tender rain sieves in a cool manner… I am piggybacking
the sky with my steady legs. The seedlings find sunlight under my back. The
children’s laughter unties the beads. The inchworm climbs round and round
yellow leaf stems. The red ixora flowers
blossom early at the entrance of the alley… Monsoon… Monsoon… And water flows,
At times you forgot my advice. But it has become my instinct, I continue
swimming and raising food on high.
You and me practiced talking
Spreading our hands
The sun penetrated the dense jungle
The lines on our palms entwined as rattan stems
the trail was desolate with entangled flowery climbers
primitive scars became rosy in layers of brown earth
You said: Today it’s cold
Was I confused by the drizzle and fluttering fire
between warm breath and ringing bells?
I held in my palm a burning coal
penetrated by a sharp fish-hook
lying on each acute needle
hurriedly taking in a mouthful of boiling water
And you and me…
All concepts are completely meaningless
when our lips look for one another in haste
the ink marks appear distinctly
beginning with the horse cart
and the sunset has just been loosened from the horizon
and good wine giving warmth to our breasts
Tearing the darkness of the night to look deep into the open horizon
The bloodstained belfries give a new greenness to
The furrows have been upturned
to show their fertility after so many years remaining hidden treasures
The river is murmuring
The waterfalls descend from high mounts
New sunlight, and mist
And so close to raindrops
The breathing bursts out the hard-core of seeds you have just cast out
The body is strung high, and expanded
You rely on me to form a barrage against the tides
a line of trees against erosion by storms
Wild horses galloped on the prairie
pulling clouds into winds, thunder and lightning
Water coming from the depths burst forth on the ground
forming ponds, and large lakes
swiftly flowing into springs, rivers, and bodies
surging in my chest, and up to the top of my hair
Turning me into a torch, a striking match, a candlestick…
The burning lips in ardent areas
The eyes with wild veins
explode each lonely fruit
every simple letter
the last empty fords
the far-away bird cries
and the cut-off bisexual flowers dangling…
Shouting loud until death
Keeping silent until death for a resurrection of the world
The horses tossed their manes…
Without being seen.
Neighing without being heard
In the high sky one by one a green blade of grass is raised.
Close to you I heard the moon’s rising
sitting in a bell of light
your coat becomes mine
your hair becomes mine
your shoulders become
your breath becomes mine
your hands become mine…
Close to you the rain is flying
Under our feet the grasses are mending the world
your river refreshes the
your long legs incline
your chest rises to the
your breath blows away
banks and dikes
your lips grind me into
Close to you I eat, drink, speak, and laugh at ease
I sleep soundly, am free… and live…
bury my bones and marrow into your body
wriggle and be reincarnated into another life
saw off, turn upside down, drink up
explode, break stone into lime
cleave the wood with an axe…
I am immersed in the depths
Pouring upon me the wine of wines
the water of waters and waves of waves
the rapid breathing all night long
the hammerings of metal
the buoy is submerged with the high-strung line
My skin and flesh are safe
all muscles are stretched out, relaxed
up and down as a fetus
with some hair in its mouth
Is this the bottom?
Yes, but there are still further depths
the hot bowl of soup
burned my lips, vulnerable
the smell of fresh scallion, spices, herbs
the sweet broth, with mushrooms…
grateful to you
let me be a puppy, a sucking calf
a newly hatched chick
and listen to
the warm egg rolling into the nest
the river mouth overfilled at moonrise
the new seed falling into cozy ground
and the flock of birds looking for mating on high…
I was lying prone on the ground and calling into the deep caves. Saying
that the river is flowing up to the forest, carrying the sun just melted in
early morning, and also my voice on the ford. Saying that the sea can recognize
itself and challenge me to plunge into its depths. Over there the tree is
blossoming more quickly in darkness. A cloud, and the bird fly without a
pausing point. The leaf turns yellow, and falls even at a light touch or
without one. Each falling leaf causes throbbing in my chest. The earth is
silent by itself. Even in a moment of close contact to the earth one can feel
out of breath because of all kinds of sounds.
The earth is quiet the hills up and down in immense space evoke your
soft back in movement through foliage overpassing the line of newly-planted
trees with their wet trunks your soft advancing with naked feet narrow waist I
look with my mind for knowledge of negligently turning one’s back the hair’s breath
opening their eyes of understanding don’t ask don’t hear flying high lightly to
get entangled with birds the salvo of dum-dum bullets sweetly falling who knows
how to speak in a frenzy the unconscious becomes little and plunges deep into
the body without waves ecstatic in effortless balance dropping into my body to
form a mountain peak to venerate the ground looking upwards to your face
condensing transparent space waking to be a hot piece of iron in the midst of
nature the spring flows the fruit has just fallen bursting on the rock
regretful of not drinking up all fragrance don’t overflow onto myriad things
but be connected to the end of the placenta to nourish me from endless times to
answer when called to suffer from violent movements to other beings and to be
harmonious in light touch with the sublime.
kite flying in childhood round swollen nipples deep mouthful of treetops
trembling spider legs nonchalantly hanging a net on leaves of grass safety
measure of high pressure on ammo powder without fear of explosion silent
understanding your look of compassion downwards
the murmurings of trees closely hold grips on birds’ voices quietly taking
shelter in rain the warm sunlight darts deep into fresh grasses in trembling at
the turning of seasons without a change of new dress both in fever and running
into an orchard laden with fruits touching the
eyes’ corners and the lips everywhere is accumulated
with electricity pick something up and you are shocked and anesthetized,
sweated to ecstasy your hands shut locked and your legs opened large to the
horizon water falling upon you as a flood in a daze cleaning all ignorance and
reactivating your memory like a wild beast fallen into a trap a fish escaping
from the net and struggling in a lake with water abundant in your month with
only your hair fluttering backwards you lie on your back to feel covered with
fertile silt and let branches sprout from your body you hear from afar people
congratulate the plump baby in cozy swaddling diapers you lovingly touch your
fingers on my back and make me cry.
baked the fish into a curled shape the rice pancake swelled and coiled back the
tongues of fire climbed and filled up space objects and cells resurrected in
pristine forms drawing fallen leaves upon the tree causing the dispersal of
microcircuits the ink was smeared on the hands the bones were embraced and
cooked in simmer the tree trunk ascended straightly overcoming the narrow wall
and clasping the lofty sky burying its roots
into the depths greening the earth enlightening every popular and dirty saying transmitting flame to ten generation the
poisoned arrow of enthusiasm carrying
one another to pay respects to ancestors joyfully performing the rites of
worship the bugle was resounding the alarm clock was ringing joyful daybreak
offering of dresses pouring of wine to the ground fanatically hitting the wild
beast and leaving on the skin wreaths of strange grasses the moment of
pregnancy drenched with blood and pus lying back on glowing cinders and warm
ashes not hearing one sentence of unreason but only drinking water full of
significance in holding.
The low-flying cloud radiated light without regard for sunrise or
sunset. Behind that cloud so many mysteries were kept, projects of travel, the
blue scarf I wanted to offer you had a fine line… You handed me a cup of hot
tea. I closed my eyes and nodded. And at the same I figured out the fertile
land expanding forever. The plump buffaloes drenched in sweat and in heat
swiftly pulled the shining plough and upturned one furrow after another. The animals
gathered joyfully in the great forest, ringing bells endlessly on their flesh
and skin. The approaching wind was dreaming among trees. Only the high branches
were fluttering. The stems of leaves clung to me at each tender breath, at the
heels, the earlobes, the hair… Exhaling a pure perfume, you said: we have just
been born again under a cloud in flight.
Biography of Nguyễn Tiến Văn:
Nguyễn Tiến Văn was born in Hà Nội
in 1939. He lived in South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975, where he worked as a
translator, editor, and publisher. Between 1975 to 1985 he sold books from a
bookstall in an outdoor open market.
He left Vietnam in 1985. From
1985-1987 he became a refugee in the UNHCR camp of Pulau Bidong, Malaysia.
Nguyễn Tiến Văn left the refugee camp in 1987 and was repatriated to Canada.
For the next 18 years, he lived and worked in the city of Toronto.
Since 2005, Nguyễn Tiến Văn has been
living in Saigon where he currently works as a translator and editor. He has
translated works by traditional and contemporary Vietnamese poets such as
Inrasara, Cát Du, Trang Thế Hi and Mai Văn Phấn, from Vietnamese into the
Biography of Susan
Susan Blanshard was born in Hampshire, England. She is an
internationally acclaimed Poet, Essayist, and Best-selling Author. Susan has
written more than 35 books. She has edited
translations for 7 international volumes of poetry. Selected poetry and essays
are published in The World’s Literary
Magazine, Projected Letters, Six Bricks Press, Arabesque Magazine, Lotus
International Women’s Magazine, ICORN International Cities of Refuge. PEN
International Women Writers’ Magazine. PEN International Writers Committee The Fourth Anthology, Our Voice, Nuestra Voz, Notre Voix.
Her literary essays The Pillow Book, Four
Recipes, The Traveler, Orientation, published in Arts And Culture, Lotus International Magazine, Hanoi. Her
collected poems Running the Deserts,
Midnight Mojave were included in the Vaani 9.69 seconds, a collection of short stories and poems dedicated to
the London Olympics
2012. Selected new poetry from Poems from the Alley, have been translated into Bengali to be
included in three upcoming literary reviews. She has also published book-length
poetic prose: Sheetstone: Memoir for a
Lover, Sleeping with the Artist, Fragments of the Human Heart, Memoir of Love and Art: Honey in My Blood.
Susan is member of PEN Interntional Womens Writers and a Foundation Member of
Asian Pacific Writers APW. She lived in Hanoi for eight years and has written
two non-fiction travel books on The Old Quarter of Hanoi. She is married to a
visual artist and writer. They have two adult children. Susan resides near
Sydney, Australia where she is currently completing a three book work of
Biography of Mai Văn Phấn:
Vietnamese poet Mai Văn Phấn was born 1955 in Ninh Bình, Red River Delta in North Vietnam. Currently, he is living and writing poems in Hải Phòng city. He has won several national literary awards of Vietnam. He has published 24 poetry books and 1 book "Critiques–Essays", 10 poetry books of those are published and released in foreign countries.
• “Giọt nắng” (“Drops of Sunlight”. Poetry book. Hải Phòng Union of Literature and Arts Associations, 1992);
• “Gọi xanh” (“Calling to the Blue”. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 1995);
• “Cầu nguyện ban mai” (“Prayers to Dawn”. Poetry book. Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1997);
• “Nghi lễ nhận tên” (“Ritual of Naming”. Poetry book. Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1999);
• “Người cùng thời” (“People of the Era”, Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1999);
• “Vách nước” (“Water Wall”. Poetry book. Hải Phòng Publishing House, 2003);
• “Hôm sau” (“The Day After”. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2009);
• “và đột nhiên gió thổi” (“and Suddenly the Wind Blows”. Poetry book. Literature Publishing House, 2009);
• “Bầu trời không mái che” (Vietnamese-only version of “Firmament Without Roof Cover". Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2010);
• “Thơ tuyển Mai Văn Phấn” (Mai Văn Phấn: Selected Poems - Essays and the Interviews, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2011);
• “hoa giấu mặt” (“hidden-face Flower”. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2012);
• “Bầu trời không mái che / Firmament Without Roof Cover” (bilingual 2nd edition. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2012);
• “Vừa sinh ra ở đó” (“Just Born There”. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
• “Những hạt giống của đêm và ngày / Seeds of Night and Day” (bilingual Vietnamese-English. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
• “A Ciel Ouvert / Firmament Without Roof Cover” (bilingual Vietnamese-French. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2014);
• “Buông tay cho trời rạng / Out of the Dark” (bilingual Vietnamese-English. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
• “Ra vườn chùa xem cắt cỏ / Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden” (bilingual Vietnamese-English. Poetry book. Page Addie Press of United Kingdom Australia, 2014);
• “Zanore në vesë / Vowels in The Dew” (Poetry book. BOTIMET M&B, Albania, 2014);
• “บุษบาซ่อนหน้า / hidden face flower / hoa giấu mặt” (Poetry book. Artist's House, Thailand, 2014);
• “Yên Tử Dağının Çiçeği” (“The Flower of Mount Yên Tử”. Poetry book. ŞİİRDEN YAYINCILIK, Turkey, 2015);
• "The Selected Poems of Mai Văn Phấn" (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2015);
• “thả” (“Letting Go”. Poetry book. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2015);
• “आलाप प्रतिलाप” (“Echo of the Aalap”. Poetry book. Publishing House of Kritya, India, 2016);
• “Không gian khác” (“Another Dimension”. Critiques–Essays. Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2016);
• “Два крыла / Đôi cánh” (“Two Wings”. Bilingual Vietnamese-Russian. Poetry book. “Нонпарелъ” – Publishing House of Мoscow, 2016);...
Poems of Mai Văn Phấn are translated into 22 languages, including: English, French, Russian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Uzbek, Kazakh, Slovak, Rumanian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi (India), Bengali (India), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Nepalese.
Simultaneously on the book distribution network of Amazon, thecollections “Firmament Without Roof Cover”, “Seeds of Night and Day”, “Out Of The Dark”, “Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden”, “A Ciel Ouvert” waspublished and exclusively released in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and European countries by Page Addie Press of the UK.
December 2012, the English collection titled “Firmament without Roof Cover” became one of the 100 best-selling poetry books of Amazon.
June 2014, the three collections in Vietnamese and English titled “Ra vườn chùa xem cắt cỏ” (“Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden”) and “Những hạt giống của đêm và ngày / Seeds of Nights and Day” as well as his Vietnamese-French collection titled “Bầu trời không mái che” (“A Ciel Ouvert/ Firmament without Roof Cover”) were among the top ten of the 100 best-selling poetry collections from Asia on Amazon.
Poems of Mai Văn Phấn were introduced in newspapers and magazines of Sweden, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Albania, Turkey, South Korea, Hongkong, Indonesia and Thailand, etc.
Poetry's Mai Văn Phấn on Amazon