PoetryWorld Literature

BEFORE DAWN – THE POETRY FROM VIETNAM

Nguyễn Hưng Hải, an eminent poet from the land of Blue Dragon shares his five poems.

 

Nguyễn Hưng Hải

nguyễn hưng hải poet - Sindh CourierPoet Nguyễn Hưng Hải, born in Phu Tho province, Vietnam, graduated from Faculty of History, Hanoi University in 1980. He is member of Vietnam Writers’ Association and Vietnam Journalists’ Association, and is author of 30 volumes of poetry and epics. He won many national and local literary and journalistic awards in Vietnam.

 

 

Before dawn

They are like me, I’m like them

Whole lives only sacrifice

Because it is too good that people always take advantage of it

If never good, how dare disrespected…!

 

Selling the reputation of three coins that swaggered anywhere

Buying the reputation of three thousand coins that bowed the head

Miserable as a dog but don’t know

What’s a bone tossing with…?

 

Two of you that are like me with the same misery

Buying the happiness for people that not for us

How much kindness are not enough

Scared of human hands when killing…!

***

To dry the shirt

It’s to dry the not wet shirt

It’s to re-dry the Truong Son period

It’s to dry the loneliness

Who are lost, who are alive and where are they after so many years

 

Green forest, pale soldiers’ shirts

It’s to dry so that to remember and find in next days

Truong Son of up and down

It’s to dry of indifferent glances

 

Backpacks carried to the balks

It’s to dry the tensions of falling rains

Shirts embraced lives

Going into the fire, still smiling like nothing

 

Looking to someone to dry her husband shirt

Again mourning for the cold night of pity Truong Son

Now no one count to gain or lose

No one to dry frayed shirts in the afternoon rain

 

Dry it for remembering the old days

For not forgetting the New Year’s Eve vibration bombs

For mourning behind the backs

 

For knowing where the shame is tomorrow

For reminding in the future

Truong Son shirts, although pale, still to dry…

***

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Raining in Ancient Citadel

The rains were from many years

And the rains were white way that you visited him

Hands followed the unknowns

You went out from the time of black hair until now

 

Surrounded by you were graves

The scent was being leaned by the rain and wind

 

Cupping hands to remind the feelings

Turned off from previous years from that nights

To live with memories, dreams

Going with her tears to visit him

 

Tombstones around horizon

The backs were bent to become the roof rises

How can cover the time

Just rain to live by the rain

 

To support the scent of smoke and blowing wind

To light up the Ancient Citadel four seasons of incense

To pick up every hand of bones

Mixed in the sandy soil, the road, the river…

 

How many years more will be curved backs?

In the rain, it become roofs above the graves

To cover the dry bones

It called mushrooms, but where are they now?

 

How many clouds hovered over the heads?

To overlook to the Ancient Citadel in pure white color

White as her virgin’s heart

How many years, still she visited it alone…

***

Two words ‘Thank You’

Before April 30, 1975

In my garden, there was an American soldier lying in a pool of blood

What did the soldier say in flickering that my young sister didn’t understand?

It was like «Help, save… save me!

 

Tore off my brother’s worn shirt

My young sister bandaged the wound of American soldier

Wiped the blood that has not dried on his young face, my mother sit quietly

Looked out to the garden with exploding gun

 

Mom and sister did not know who the American soldier called in his whisper

Maybe it was this soldier who just shot my young brother in the left chest before he was shot

My brother was also injured but there was no one there… so he died in the battle

At the gate of Saigon, who heard my brother’s voice…!?

 

Two words “Thank You” that erased all hatred in life

My brother was lying on the other side of Saigon Bridge, possibly shot by this soldier in the left chest

Just like this soldier’s left chest that my mother and sister have bandaged him

That cannot be able to return to my mother and me…

 

After many years to return to Saigon, the American soldier still did not forget

The eyes of Saigon mother looked down

The eyes of Saigon girl looked down

Instead of two words Thank You, put hands cross and say “Cảm ơn”*…

 

The American soldier went with my mother and sister to the other side of Saigon Bridge

Looked down at the river and dropped a white wreath

I stood among the three on the sunny April 30th morning

What else can I say other than two words “Thank you”…?

 

*”Cảm ơn” means “Thank you” in Vietnamese language

***

Dear grandmother!

She used to sit at the door and looked out

Silver grain years via human hair

Half-crying and half-smiling years

I went to lodge school and the grandmother raised chickens

 

I missed her all week

Afternoon sitting on the doorstep and looking at the horizon

Poor mother, I was raised by the grandmother

Tears flowed back, don’t laugh in the past

 

Money for gifts and cakes to be saved

Where else the grandmother to offer?

Knowing the afternoon was the darkness

Only the sill, where she looked

 

Knowing the love, don’t let the head fall

Tripped on the door step and hurt her shadow

Splashed all over the floor

The corn she drew, her figure crouched

 

Blinded eyes and dark alley

Looking in to see her looking out?

Knowing the love that she was no longer existed

So that can offer her the gifts and cakes

 

To make a stick beside a bed

Putting at the doorstep that she can stand up

Rain that can splash on the eaves

Though far away she is still by my side…!

__________________

(Translated from Vietnamese into English by Khanh Phuong)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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