a poem in the wind

A poem in Vietnamese by Thái Hạo
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Photography: Nguyễn Thị PhươngTrâm

a poem in the wind

like a white linen scarf

flew the length of the East coast

a raised flag in the cemetery

I voted for myself with a white test kit

in my tired aching hand 

appeared nothing

we’re all still negative

laughing like lunatics

surveying a home destroyed last night

while you are still dear 

as negative as the field of sunflowers

we safeguard for each other a long sigh

clouds in the deep valleys have hidden the abyss

Buddha sat crying alone by the river 

austere sutras

as a bunch of people danced at the side of the mountain

erected boulders

the souls slipped away

the fallen brick and mortar flew 

I voted for my hometown

salt and white rice

on the severed roads

the ballots of spring fields

seedless husks

bleached white

a nestling warbler

alone flew

searching for white rice

on the freshly erected graves…

MARCH 4, 2022


Bài thơ gửi đi

như chiếc khăn sô gai màu trắng

bay dọc bờ đông hải

nghĩa địa phất cờ

Tôi bỏ phiếu cho tôi bằng que test kit màu trắng

không có gì hiện lên

trong lòng bàn tay nhức mỏi

chúng ta vẫn âm tính

với tiếng cười của những người mất trí

đang đi quanh ngôi nhà vừa đổ xuống đêm qua

em vẫn âm tính với với cánh đồng hoa hướng dương màu vàng

chúng ta đặt vào nhau một tiếng thở


mây trong lũng sâu đã đậy kín những miệng vực

Bụt ngồi khóc một mình bên dòng sông nước chảy

lời kinh khắc khổ

đoàn người đang múa trên triền núi

đá dựng

những linh hồn trượt chân

vôi vữa rã rời bay đi

Tôi bỏ phiếu cho quê tôi

là muối và gạo trắng

trên những đường đứt quãng

lá phiếu của cánh đồng mùa xuân

hạt lép

trắng toát

con chích bông làm tổ

một mình bay đi 

tìm gạo trắng

trên những mồ mới xây…

Thái Hạo, the poet and journalist currently lives in Vietnam.

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the blogger, poet, and translator, was born in 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.


  1. It’s compelling how this idea of white as death is repeated again at the end. I love when a poem does such a great job bringing an idea in the beginning back around. A while ago, you criticized me for asking you for the interpretation of a poem. Reading this piece, I have a deeper understanding of why because I could interpret this in soooooo many different ways. That makes the poem more impactful, you know?

    By the way, I do a poor job of making time to read published and successful and famous poems, so I read your translations to make up for it hehehehehe 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hmmm, that’s an interesting way of paying someone a compliment yeah. I, thank you, kind sir. I truly enjoy reading your poetry too, and as you said, probably because we’re on a similar journey. The only difference is that your smile is more brilliant than my eyes yeah. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It feels very comforting to meet people who are similar to me. So once again, thank you for sharing and for your vulnerability. My smile is bright because it helps shine the way when my journey gets a bit too dark (my vision sucks so that doesn’t help lol). It’s my secret tool that I can never lose because what am I without my smile? I’m sure you have your own thing too that shines through any obscurity and helps you to get up!

        Liked by 1 person

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