A poem in Vietnamese by Lê Vĩnh Tài
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Photography: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm




signals your disappearance

into clouds of sadness


furthest from heaven

you’re in a storm

in the coming rain


when it rains you sense that

the sky was home with grey ceilings


nothing but lightning 

and thunder

and something smaller

and you could feel 

every drop


every drop of loneliness


the rain will always place me

beneath you




mặc dù những đám mây

thông báo rằng bạn đã biến mất

vào đám mây buồn


những tầm xa nhất của thiên đàng

bạn sẽ cảm thấy cơn bão

mà mưa mang tới


bạn chỉ biết khi trời mưa

bầu trời như căn nhà có trần màu xám


chỉ có sấm sét

và một cái gì đó nhỏ hơn

bạn cảm thấy từng giọt


từng giọt

và bạn một mình


mưa sẽ luôn đặt tôi

bên dưới bạn



Lê Vĩnh Tài, the poet and translator born in 1966 in Buon Ma Thuot, Daklak, Vietnam. The retired doctor is still a resident of the Western Highlands and a businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

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. Is meaning that important?

      since feeling is first
      who pays any attention
      to the syntax of things
      will never wholly kiss you;

      wholly to be a fool
      while Spring is in the world

      my blood approves,
      and kisses are a better fate
      than wisdom
      lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
      – the best gesture of my brain is less than
      your eyelids’ flutter which says

      we are for each other; then
      laugh, leaning back in my arms
      for life’s not a paragraph

      And death i think is no parenthesis

      E. E. Cummings

      Liked by 1 person

      1. heheh, I’m picking on you.. it’s okay, I just envy your youth.. 🙂 Let me tell you a secret: the reason I started to translate anything half a decade ago was because the words drew me in, but I had no idea what it meant.. The “experts” keeps saying how amazing I was, my poor grasp of the Vietnamese language and yet I could translate poetry of all things.. I thought it was obvious, I translated into a language I am familiar with with the hope of understanding some of it. Some poems evolved for me over the years as my grasp for their vernacular grew stronger, but the origina; feeling remains true to the very first moment I read it. Like love at first sight. I read so much poetry that I find most poetry like most human condition strenuous and boring, most people never try.. they walk through life like zombies like their poetry. They spend so much time worrying how it all looks, but they fail to be sincere. I prefer a badly written with sincerity than a well written one that taste like cardboard… heheh– thanks for putting up with my verbal diarrhoea

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahah “verbal diarrhea” 😂😂😂 whatever you think of what you wrote, I love it! On that note, I hope my poetry doesn’t taste like cardboard to you! 😯 If any of it does, I am so so so so so soooooo open to feedback pleaseeeee!! 🙏🏾🙏🏾

        A while ago, my relationship with my best friend crumbled. I was LIVID at him because he’s the one who was crumbling the relationship while I was screaming, suffering and trying to save the pieces. At the very end of our relationship, he wrote me a poem. I spent nearly 3 years reading the poem—lost as could be of its meaning—until one day I realized: the poem is an apology letter where he explains (super poetically 🙄) how I changed his life for the best, that the end is all his fault, but why he couldn’t be in the relationship anymore. So, in a way, I get what you mean by some poems evolved for you over the years. Anyways, wow, that kid was always a much much much better poet than I was (and maybe could ever be)—and he never even tried! It’s a shame that such good talent is going to waste.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s life, it’s complicated, and letting go is not easy. Embracing one’s nature/gift is something else for another day perhaps? But, one thing I do know is that when you’re not ready, you’re not ready, no one else can tell you otherwise. Here’s cheer to Sir Charles the Poet!

        Liked by 1 person

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