THE WRITERS POST - Volme 12 Number 1 Jan 2010 - Mai Van Phan





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


JAN 2010



           MAI VAN PHAN



          three poems by  MAI VAN PHAN

                    translated by Do Xuan Oanh



Noted at the great wall


            Cloud puts on the shoulder each heavy block of stone

Sand blurs the eyes

The breast breathes full of sand

Great Wall still being under construction ?

In the air a voice of Eunuch transmits imperial order 

Any one captured making poem while carrying stone

Would be beaten to vomit blood

Forthwith !


Turning up the eyes to meet a puffy face

Cold hands, leaden eyes, greasy voice

The Phong hoa dai(*) roof of cordyline color

In form of blood-stained dragon knife being put to the throat


Bend the back to push sunlight away

Stiffen the legs to push wind away

Provided you can get near the flower

Gently playing in the stormy wind…


His Majesty / His Excellency / Comrade…

This humble servant / this dutiful folk / I…

Will fulfill obligation


This is the peak of heaven

Or the bottom of a deep abyss

Only parching hot wrinkles of the rod are felt on the back


Sweat of travellers on gray stone

Bloom into cotton-rose hibiscus…



(*) Phong hoa dai : Watch-post on the Great Wall                                  



Love text No 16 in Autumn Flowers


Here, I eat a choice titbit, here, I drink a cup of tea. I also give you a salt crystal, a wiping cloth, a sauce. And soy sauce, egg-plant, chinese pea, fragrant rice too…While being away you advise me to eat and sleep moderately, and eat for you one more spoon. I am a king-crab swimming around a table piled up with food. According to rituals of king-crab species, I always raise the food high before eating. I constantly remember you on my back, the big female king-crab that covers the ground. You are a slowly drifting cloud, the dawn en éventail, a lion fluffing out its hairs, a squirrel that moves in a flash from one branch to another. The draught twines my legs. The rain is silky, sifty, coldish…I am carrying the sky with my hard and solid legs. Seeds find light under my back. Laughings of children let fall strings of pearl. The inch-worm dumbfoundedly creeps around a chlorotic leaf stalk. A peony at the alley entrance just bloomed hastily….Monsoon, monsoon…And water runs, water runs !

Sometimes I forgot your recommendations. But it has become instinct, I again swim away and raise the food high.



Reciting a dream


Last night I dreamed of being forced to act as spy, the sort of double agent, which was called double-dealing spy in my native place. I had to act because being accidentally stuck in a round up, not for the sake of money. I still remembered well the password, knew how to cut the tail, to install an eavesdropping machine, and to secretly send a telegram…But I wondered why those telegrams and rudimentary communication means of the early last century still existed ? I again felt myself getting old in a different institution. In the morning I leaned on my stick and walked out on the street listening to the blowing wind, and smiled…Then I was discovered, also accidentally. Somebody found my name among the scraps, a file in which I was a twenty parties-dealing spy. Obviously there had been an ill-bred guy who deliberately added zero to the number 2. How could a secluded countryside have at the time that much as twenty institutions ? Was the countryside a place for measuring wits ? Or an information center ? A hot point ? I was sneered at and slighted by my children and grand children as a worthless one. Being cynically calumniated, I couldn’t explain away. I wanted to cry before committing suicide. But crying without reason was very difficult for an old person. I reconciled myself to soothe a new-born who just woke up among the tightly rolling nappies.


                                                          MAI VAN PHAN



The Writers Post
the magazine of literature

& literature-in-translation,

founded 1999, based in the US.




Copyright © Mai Van Phan & The Writers Post 2009. Nothing in this magazine may be downloaded, distributed, or reproduced without the permission of the author/ translator/ artist/  The Writers Post/ and Wordbridge magazine. Creating links to place The Writers Post or any of its pages within other framesets or in other documents is copyright violation, and is not permitted.


Return to Contents