THE WRITERS POST - Volme 11 Number 1 Jan 2009 - Mai Van Phan





(ISSN: 1527-5467)
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.


JAN 2009



           MAI VAN PHAN



          three poems by  MAI VAN PHAN

                    translated by Do Xuan Oanh




Heard the news of a friend being robbed


                                                            For Nguyen Quang Thieu


Perhaps the robber slipped in thru the window the moment you felt weary. The moment your thick mustaches ceased to bristle, your half-closed eyes suddenly succulent, motionless, blood-shot …Your breath kept rising blazingly, tied in the middle of Ha Dong high tower. I want to be a private detective to immediately nab the guy who sneaked into your house. There, a cloud of human form just fell into the blue sky. No one knows if the robber also got in the house from this same posture. Now he had disguised into a decent guy while that cloud kept flying joyously. The heat didn’t cease to spread radiant. Like a poker, the robber scratched up the blazing red brazier. The flame blew thru the window, lock, air-hole…like a deeply resenting man throwing silver bars into darkness, or raising his bristly fingers to press a huge crypt. The guy had drifted down along the root of a banyan tree, worming through each white peony that calmly spread fragrance in the crypt. The robber didn’t know of being gone with invisible ashes and the silver bars…



Supposition for the next morning


In his old age, he talks little

Neither sad, nor angry

All night long sitting to drop the line by a muddy puddle

For entertaining his mind ?


He dares not yawn

For if lacking vigilance

Locusts and grasshoppers might creep into his belly.


I arrange firewoods so he could lean on when weary

Put a cup of water nearby…


Then the early sunlight would join him

In leaning against the big mountainside

Facing a wide open lake 


Either the land surface is erased of all traces

Or I become a story trader and inventor.


It might be that under the black dawn

Black fishes heap up…

Wind hooks on him a barbed fish-hook.



Teaching the children


The children of my neighborhood know too much about adults so they are early infected with old-age diseases. Nightly they used to gather, whisper in the deserted gardens, assign some to mount guard for others to dig cellars and bury worn out things as precaution for changing events. They are often frightened at the shift of color in twilight, at the sound of lapping waves, at the burst of a fruit. They call for each other to diet to prevent high blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate tumor or cirrhosis. It is rare to find them cry or demand a fine. Some of them chokily said : “Tears of children flow inwards !”. Some people and I discuss the way to mount a play to entertain them, such as setting up a shop, building a palace, rowing paper boats on a brick yard…Or arranging a mimic battle, shamming dead…The children would cut leaves and put them on the nose of the sham-dead. The leaves suddenly wither and turn chlorotic. One of them, self-assured, cheerily said : One day traveling on the road helps you learn a basket of wisdom. They laugh aloud when we stand up. I become dull and stagger back to my place. My toddling feet put their foolish steps on the ground.


                                                 MAI VAN PHAN



The Writers Post
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& literature-in-translation,

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