THE WRITERS POST
VOLUME 6 NUMBER 2
MAI VAN PHAN
Five poems by MAI VAN PHAN
(translated by Do Xuan Oanh )
he wore sweater of duck-neck color, large seat trousers
hair crew cut
hand holding a book
reaching the door still mumbled:
light then dark...stinking then fragrant...pump then deflate...walk then fall...slap then pity...half-ripe then overripe...keep mum then scream...stuck up then slacken...eat then caught in the throat...expose then cover...intimidate then spare...give then fail to pay...shut up then uncover...missed it then die...extort then find it...
bolt wooden door
draw iron door
he pressed five safety locks
then threw the key inside...
Turn over the heap of blankets where he used to lie
a piece of paper was seen scrawling
“Whoever finds me somewhere, call number...
Thanks and would reward”
after the piece of paper still resounded :
stir it up then muddy it...humiliate then lament...dissolved than drawn...unconscious then awake...request then drop it...
Arm and elbow always rigid
From wrist down fingers should be supple
Hand stately perform in the bag
I learned this lesson since childhood
(Once despised like fermented rice
trodden down the pavement by that stately one
Give it up for the rest of my life !)
Stately killing a mosquito
Stately speaking in general terms
Stately bowing empty
Stately stealing raincoat
Stately breathing smell into other’s mouth
Stately protect a wrong decaying tooth
Stately pissing at public spot
Stately sniffing in handkerchief
Stately readjusting cock in trouser pocket at meeting
Stately blowing nose on glass window
Stately squeezing money from a beggar
Stately overhearing telephone
Stately looking at sisters’ breasts in the funeral
Stately signing name in a scientific work
Stately writing love poem while being impotent
Stately sending virus into other’s e-mail
Stately changing fraudulent exam exercise
Stately spending counterfeit money
Arm and elbow always rigid
From wrist down fingers should be supple.
Just a dream
and asked me for the sexual organ
but if I disagreed
that precious thing would be thrown into latrine
(they knew both the secret and incantations)
I said :
You can take all
but let me keep a little private
would voluntarily be a toy, clout, dog servant ...
I stooped to receive yoke on the shoulders
I fluffed my hair out and began to bark loud
I swung and screeched beep beep
I ground my body on the floor.
I ran around and my mouth foaming
I sweated, shammed death, fluttered
I crumbled, stampeded, broke into pieces
I soaked and squeezed...
Always keeping cool
to see visitor off at gateway
The teapot already made
the visitor was no longer there
Called on the telephone
House people said he died seven years ago
One’s own house
Couldn’t remember when the portrait was put down...
Where was it the spring-operated clock?
The sham-antique tea set given by someone?
Dropped by the neighborhood
trying to ask a few kinds of foodstuff
kind of increased price
kind still of old price
In the house
The tea remained warm
Pushed the cup towards where the visitor sat.
The 1m60 high current of death coldness standing in face
now and then stooped.
Where darkness devoured darkness
he sat mumbling...
of unmade darkness
of darkness gradually swallowing darkness
of blackness that couldn’t be blacker
He was where the perfection of:
broken mirror whole again / born insect / lost virginity / snapped
cable / unclogged sewer...
was a dump of rags / glass pieces / sanitary towel / outmoded footwear...
was a bullet touching target / resuscitating menstruations / stream running into the sea...
Creeping up a high tree
he called aloud:
Hey, shed the light in here!
By glimmering flash-light
everyone saw him open wide arms and hovered like angel.
He laughed and waved fist through a hole dug on a piece
of board. Bony fingers curled up into iron fist to plunge thru the center without any obstacle. He thought, hand seeking the delight of a dog gliding through a big wall. The gap was too small between the board raised for the other hand to get through. Thirst for breath.
Every time plunging thru the hole mouth, his hand again open wide. The board was like a swimming jelly-fish caught into a bunch of hooks. Turning the board he sang: blue sky hey ho ... here the large chest vault...
Other side of the board was another world. Signboard, old teacher, expertise minutes, market, commemorative badge, sewer cleaner, fellow-countrymen society, monk, bathing oil, mouse trap, the prophet...and fashion was also different (that’s what he thought!) No wonder he didn’t plunge the other arm (!) He threw the board into litter box, stood firm, repeatedly boxed the conventional hole, plunged at a quick speed.
A forecast of sport future. With solemn title on evening paper, his name appeared in the list of champions.
MAI VAN PHAN
Editorial note: All works published in this issue are simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge magazine double issue 3 &4 Winter 2003 & Spring 2004. (ISSN: 1540-1723).
Copyright © Mai Van Phan 1999-2004. Nothing in this issue 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.