Sa Mộc – Phạm Vân Anh (Chapter 4)


Monologue in the middle of Sky domain

Owl shrieks throatily all along cloud path

Hear sadness rises to the summit

Want to fly…

Yet night densed

Want to flow

Yet water surges

Another night that I melt

It’s the rain of Jan and Feb, mother

Enthusiastic murmur inside tree, underground or my heart

that is urging

On going rain agglomerates in lonesome remnant of tree

Straining to raise the verdant fortune

Descent of woodpeckers chase the sleepy termites to crawl into


Every pieceses of night splashes around the rotten-tree party

The consistent peck carves every single grand forest hole onto


Continuance rain season dangled across mountain slope

Scrannel trees reflect shadows in forest region

We children…

Every single pieceses of night

Blend into light!


I see myself in the young soldier tonight

The aspired nineteen, twenty

Green badge ­

Twinkly nightful of stars upon the night watch

Jan and Feb rain

Pours into me a domain of innocent childhood

The spotted doves returning to the flowering bead-tree under the

 rain flock by flock

The way they fly, the way they perch seems just as a gentle boor

Like peasants hold on to their land

Despite miserable plow, handful of muddy

Interminable wars

 People hide themselves in separation

Still act kindly on Buddha’s words of humanity and


Still shabby on the farming field as destined

Sea change of rises and falls

Store the lid eugenia tea that pleasantly sweet

Pleasing-smelled is brown rice bowl

Jan & Feb’s kitchen smoke is light just as a rain


Spring is just passing through your face

I shift onto the holy kind of leaf to return to your side, mother

I learned to be apathetic when nobody ever mentions me

We children have, more or less, hoped that

Among the stream bed that reeked of gun powder

Flimpsy blossom

War have slept well in the drawer of oblivion

Like the dried clod of dirt that is unabled to hold back the rubbed-out step of time

Just the mother who could not stop longing

Could not stop calling me in illusory incense fragrance

Noisy thoughts assemble into ranks and files

Lift the afternoon up in quivering

Dreams that imprinted by the straight trajectory of bullet

Drunks that break enemy’s chest

Our generation grew up fast

Forgot our age

 Hustle backpack, hustle canon bullet

Less than a year in the army but having marched through Ha –

Tuyen, all the way down Thanh – Nghe

Firesome memory of the border is just as the abyssal grand forest

Though not yet familiar to bastion and watch but the shoulders is hardened of rifle tripods

We children…

Take the moon season across the undetermined life

Take our age across war

Grow up hastily for the purity of the Nation

Sing the hammock song

Cunninghamia hangs the age-crescented moon in the middle of

forest night

Dawn lights up the early-blossomed peach flower

Border sallutes new year with misty-eyed

Our battalion enter the battle

Hold on to the constant trench beds that gather water to the sea

Hold on to the hill slopes that small as a hand

Hold on to every single mountain chain that wind tumults

from upfront

The night watch has many blubber

Among hourly-lasting canon sound there come a loudly crow of

a chicken

Rumor, like a disease, gradually approaches

Silent bushes of rose myrtle hide gunsound behind the flowers

The rose myrtle fruit exuded poisonous internecine though

has not yet riped of honey

Hey gun…

Stay up with the border, shall we!


Explosive charge has blasted

Comrades side by side set up stone barriers then charge

Pierce the danger,  pierce the ambition that spread ahead

Fiercing is cunninghamia ceremonial force

Show courage upon Sky Gate

White headband in mountain’s entrance

Wind and cloud honor your death

Take a sip of Northern wind

Listless milestone silently neglects the continuous life

Newly lit cigarrette

He had gone too fast

Bit by bit the flag color soaks the sweated chest

Thousand white common reeds have not yet forgotten that they were once green

Hurriedly mourn for a faded youth

Numerous bullets blasted, free from a drowsiness

Spit hatred into darkness

The battlefield is hungry of echoing gunsound

For days and nights the tiny hamlet have been receiving the


Mud house is lent for those who go to war

Whoever counts sacrifition

That day the whole borderland is a battle line

The fence of people’s heart that blend

Poor land’s dignity remains with the nature


Explosive charge has blasted

Having evacuated to the valley, hearing terrible news about the

former place

That afternoon, the borderland is full of red

Smell of bombs and bullets is no more burning

Just the green leaves imprint on the red waterflow

Just cold rock remains with souls of the broken those

Tree’s top black as a dazed rake

Draw an exclamation into sky base.

Bronze drum sound clamorous as human blood

Sympathy for the old shaman whose eyes darksome of the rituals

Detest the bamboo line for having been unable to be your


Detest that the mourning could not last up to three days

Detest that the mourning ritual of the long gone is now meant for

the newly deceased

Circle dance is no more joyful

Only hope that you guys find your way back to where you first


Mother’s heart!


A mother can tell that her child is suffering just by looking at the


An incense stick for the afar…

Could not heat the approaching cold

Chirping Kham Kha bird picks at the beads

Perches, then flies, on the snowy dew where I lie

I wish that this season’s Northern wind is not as arid

Mother gathers peanuts along river bank and sings the blues

Father counts on bamboo pipe’s whizzing sound to escape lonesome

Know that there’re sadness…

The slim buffalo stays silence, its hoof does not knock

Piles of straw, bundles of thatch dream of a day that smoke may passionately rises

Hibiscus blooms upon our lane

Another rain season just passed through Jan and Feb

Every single damp in the upper starts releasing flood

Let us return home in an alive and kicking afternoon corner

Moment of half yin, half yang

The children who are still too young to become fireflies

Not wise enough to merge with their own shadows

Line up leafy boats

Flow along the flood returning to the conceive domain[1]


Still a beat of marine

Still a condensed alluvial
Still lenient despite the fact that the coast is awashed with unjust

 flow from brimming watershed

Hardship it is, but is there any river that does not flow,
          is there any child that not yearning for the root

          despite that the country is hurtfully poor

As we children make a pilgrim from rocky promontory

To where do the leaf return when the shadow lost its image

Stunned for a life-time when seeing our parent sweeping leaves

See the little child sprouts as the sawdust kitchen

And her, the childhood friend, is no longer young

Just that and then flow along the flood

Dock of life and death is one arm away

Ephemeral life flows along cloud

Catch the wind, return to forest.

[1] Translator note: spirits of the soldiers who felt will hang on the leaves, flow to the lowland, and be reborn.

What do you think?

Written by Trúc Anh

Vietnamese, English, Thai, Chinese

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Chùm thơ mới của nhà thơ Hy Lạp Eva Lianou Petropoulou