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DRINKING WITH A NORTH VIETNAMESE SOLDIER

Posted by phanxuansinh on Tháng Tám 12, 2009

DRINKING WITH A NORTH VIETNAMESE SOLDIER

Transl. By Kevin Bowen & Nguyen Ba Chung

Pour me another drink, buddy
This is an occasion I’d like to savor
Let’s not think about tomorrow
Forget tomorrow, let’s enjoy this moment/today
What soldiers aren’t frightened at the moment of battle
Some pee in their pants

Like you I have a young sweet heart/girl friend
Eying anxiously at the gate at home
Death or life is an intractable disease
It isn’t easy to escape one’s lot
We soldiers today carry no hatred
Friends or enemies there aren’t any line

Let’s drink. Leave all problems behind
We might even have a couple more rounds if we could
Why do we have to play the game of blood
to give water to the seeds of hate
Fie! I am sick of all these nonsense tricks
Playing games that we both lose

Your sweat heart lives far away in the north
Is she now busily hiding from the falling bombs
or anxiously eyeing the southern front
fearing her lover would return a martyr
And she will learn to forget, like so many things
love has to be treated like an ornament
even if one/she has to lie to admit it

This round of drinking today, I’ll have to get drunk,

buddy so that in that stupor we don’t have to see each other as  enemies.

WAITING FOR SPRING
BY THE ROADSIDE

Transl. By Kevin Bowen & Nguyen Ba Chung

By the side of the road, I stand, waiting for spring
In a world upside down, churning with sorrows
From what’s left, can we give each other enough space
like the vastness of the sky that never ends

The street is now completely deserted
Spring hasn’t come but there’s the moon
I do not know where I will go next
The moonlit path is buried deep in the snow

Leaning against a corner I can see
I am swimming in a sea of thirsts
Here comes the spring. Should I shout
Or turn my back, hiding behind a shrub.

LIVING LIFE A MISTY VAPOR

Transl. By Kevin Bowen & Nguyen Ba Chung

Blasts of hurricanes shook the earth
And I a small bird losing/flailing its way
Death specter came near and quick
How many mountains could an ant climb?

Rifles and butts, sweat and despair
A world darkened by fits of terror
Arrests and prisons, roads and dead ends
How many frontier passes without/
[I didn’t leave] a footprint?

What voice I still hear now, midnight?
What wailings of ghosts still ring my ears?
The price of clarity is immense sadness
Could I mend, even a bit, the old wounds?

In the new land, my hair is turning white
The old village roofs disappear in the distant mist
A life half drawn of a bad lot
The other half lives with the old nightmares

Is there a home the old bird could return
Or has it been lost to the myth of time
And I condemned to relive the broken past
Living life a misty vapor.

PHAN XUAN SINH

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