THE WRITERS POST - V11I1 Jan 2009 - Luan Hoan / Thien Nhat Phuong





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


JAN 2009



††††††† ††††††††LUAN HOAN

†††††† †††††††††††††__________________________________________


†††††††††††††††††††† a poem byLUAN HOAN

†††††††††††††††††††††††† translated by Thien Nhat Phuong




††† Military operation from the heart


should I use a stanza from the poems of Tran Dan

or Phung Quan,

to reply to a letter from my young brother living abroad

asking how I live my life?

I might as well write a poem

to tell a story thatís difficult to tell.

oh my poem will shine forever like the North Pole star

and its mystical echo will be heard like a religious hymn


oh brother

I am now a blind soldier

fighting a battle in the dark,

a soldier who must use his own tears and blood

to look at whoever I see

to identify friends or foes

to shoot with purpose,

to kill instinctively.

my hands hardened with shame

cover my face

full of remorse


this is my youth.

this is my life.

everyone has the right to waste freedom.

do I seem to be laughing resignedly?

can you recognize your own beloved brother?


I am now a blind soldier

leading a deaf platoon,

a whistle hanging from my lips

ever ready throwing out hundreds of curses

at my platoon with equal affection and concern.

Do they understand what weíre up against?

Oh my deaf platoon!

In spite of grenades exploding

they are yearning for a cock crow in the morning and

burning with a desire for intimate talks.


they advance and advance heroically

toward the target

not only one man to be killed,

not only a hundred people to be killed.

my whole platoon will be sacrificed,

my whole people will be sacrificed.

oh the target

what is it indeed?

is it what we need for eating?

is it the flying flag symbolizing freedom?

Iíve known what it stands for,

how can I explain it to you?


just because I am only a blind soldier

leading a deaf platoon

even with complete sanity

I eventually will burn houses

kill cattle and

fowls shamelessly.

like mytroops

we must live

must eat

must be brutal.

we all act like that in battle.

donít you worry too much my dear brother.

no time to talk to you about the

life of a soldier in the combat zone,

how they live, what they love and what they long for.

I myself have turned into a pebble

lying silently in our blue river and land.

who would know, who would care, who would pity?

we soldiers who dare not dream of being given

affection and consolation.

life or death is nothing oh my brother

our mind focused only on the yellow flag flapping in the wind


I am now a blind soldier

of the ľ Battalion

Second Army Division

whose only purpose isto eat, sleep and fight.


this letter is for you Han,

my young brother in exile.

would you please hang on to my love




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& literature-in-translation,

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