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


JAN 2005














                               MAI VAN PHAN







                                  Translated by DO XUAN OANH






Morning, back to work at the desk. Open notebook to list necessary things to do. Your hand from behind took my pen and pressed. The line just drawn trembled.


Wandering about like a fish, you said:

- Your room is too cramped!

- Cramped but warm - (I laughed pooh bah)

Sticking one’s chest to all things of spheric form. Beginning from lamp shade, paper-weight, tea service, vacuum flask, TV set, to wall clock, ventilator...And you taught me the way to breathe: inhale deep into the thoracic cage, press everything down the feet! You had given me another perception.


The road was my own limbs

Once leaf drifted back to leaf

moonlight didn’t move

The road glued tight

lifted up together with horse hooves


Made the tree vault recreate me

Your hair shade of roots

Tree trunk vertical high

willing to tear away

from unequal low pressure zones

in shakings

willing to tear away from body warmth

pushed from under ground

from marrow sleeping deep in condensed air

support human lives

Decant from you

extract from you

I existed

while being non-existent


Frenziedly the top of fall dropped

Or the howl, the groan, the voice...

Foams threw into the air and ran away

Splashed into one another gleams of five colors rainbow


Off to the sea alone

Remembrance tied to hair roots

Your body facing the ocean flapped


Faces inserted one another. Meaningless words open up imagination. Placed you in an empty place, blew into toes and made your body suddenly tense and invaded space. Breath began with motions. Your feet glued to my shoulders. Drop of sweat lighted in dark throat. Didn’t care soft tongue just hung us up...


My mouth still fragrant of fruit and tea aroma you drank. Sweet cake mixed with cream and cinnamon twig. I still remembered. The seat was quite large. When shoulder bloomed, my lips lighted sacred lamp in dark corner. Flower could only express a small part of the wide land bed. Land bed shook when flower stood still.


Light was torn. If ever a morning. Really antipathetic when it was seen resemblance to eye-protruding fishes. You splashed into me several deformed flowers. Easy mentally troubled if compelled to live in astigmatic world. No, we still have voice. Each syllable would then make truth appear. Obvious truth upset all universal convention.


Gone to suburb looking for space to relax. Looking straight into a point on the green floor. Comparing oneself to a cloud ripple both flying and rallying. Your breath suddenly rose from grass root. Big rain here last night. Even cyclone, lightning without noise...You had been waiting for me long before.


Loving one another. Being rituals for chanting sky and earth. Now is spring. Mine the fate of Metal and yours, Fire. From fire Earth, Wood and Water were made. Earth trembled. River flowed. Thousands and thousands of sprouts burst out from body.




Picking up a few dots of sunlight, pecking the way of community’s gastronomic culture. Compensated for the days of starvation. Trying hard to keep cool and courteous before dawn. All are yours, such concept resounded vague in each jaw bone motion. Penetrated of spirit until the heel, throat instantly transmitted password down to stomach, waiting for knee to tremble and repeat it. Ankles open wide, winced that feet might tread on twilight.

Only after a long sleep was it realized that the whole past had been stolen. On green grass over there, mountain peaks had been leveled, fences carefully plaited shrunk and hovered on the head. Eye of the lamp lighting in muddy night and important look of the neighbor had now become rot. On that green grass I was born and warmed by numerous concepts. Had once been self-sacrifice, twists and turns, respect, toadies, arrogance, flatteries, wrong claims, masturbation, sanctity, false accusation, sacredness...Grass stately rose up in front and intimidate me.

Light off. The crowd grievously returned to city. Deliberately and accurately. Moved ahead one thousand meters to meet the square, turned right three hundred meters to see the avenue, then a school, then a bookshop, then a few inns...They silently walked while talking to dark walls, dark electric poles, dark panels, dark bits of dark languages. They followed one another under dark sun to sink deep into the past. Strange that thru an empty space none among them could remember what had happened here.

Took a book and swam towards the sea. Fixed a knife on the ground then watered. Covered a blanket to attend wedding ceremony. Climbed alone on high hill and raised hand to speak. Played a trumpet tune to attend funeral of spider. Wrote one’s name filling the pages, here underlined there not. Wrapped hands on two poles of the bulb waiting for it to emit light. Whitewashed those walls not able to receive moonlight. Noted money serials existing in pocket, classified and numbered them in order. Hung one shoe and used the other to beat the rhythm. Raised toothbrush and calmly pressed trigger.

Huge ant-letters flocked on me, inconsiderately moved back and forth through body holes. Confusion, heap up, weighing...which made me perceive that ants were also killers. A way must be found to chase them away or make them line up. Only semantics could now control, but all concepts had been dimming. I tried to pronounce the word “dark” to call dark ants. Immediately ants of all kinds and colors gathered to make up meaning of the word “flocked dark”.

People said the river there had been sterilized. I cautiously bathed and washed from precious aromatic matters. As I waded, water level turned my body black and blue then feathers grew. So half of my body under water became that of a bird. But twitter must escape thru throat and tongue. Since then, my mouth constantly resisted inertia of the dark part submerged in water.




I slept on the bed

The dog on the floor

at 03m75 centimeter from me


It began to rain

We began to dream


The dog dreamed

of waking up in early sunlight

acquainted with odor of passers-by

no need of rushing out and furiously bark

not being despised and beaten

the familiar food had been served


I dreamed

of sleeping in the night without the need of locking door

of going out without being duped by anyone

people said what they thought

a glimpse of good food and nice sunlight

Pity for the dog !


Tears woke me up

Pain rolled into silvery waves


Suppose it didn’t rain last night ?

Suppose I didn’t sleep on the bed ?

Suppose the distance was not 03m75 centimeter ?


                                                                MAI VAN PHAN



 · THE WRITERS POST (ISSN: 1527-5467),
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.




Editorial note: Works published in this issue may be simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge Magazine Issue 6 January 2005 (ISSN: 1540-1723).

Copyright © Mai Van Phan 1999-2005. 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.


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