Lê Vĩnh Tài | if you could read my thoughts (81)

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

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

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


if you could read my thoughts

you shall see over a thousand newspapers

full of poets

jammed pack


the verses full of blood

with exemplars

sad tales



if you could read my thoughts

you shall hear the terrifying screams

the shattered dreams

jot down in bed


if you could read my thoughts

you shall see the shadows

hidden inside me


you will hear the bells

the words resounding: 

– I’m tired, I’ve err

I am a failure


if you could read my thoughts

you shall feel the tears

I’ve shed


you shall see the holes

that no one could escape


if you could read my thoughts

you could be reading

a book you never want to 

touch nor read


but now and then I would wish

someone could read my thoughts…


May 2019


nếu bạn có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi

bạn sẽ thấy trên hàng ngàn tờ báo 

đầy những nhà thơ 

bế tắc 


những câu thơ đầy máu 

với những mẩu 

chuyện buồn thảm 

chưa được viết 


nếu bạn có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi

bạn sẽ nghe thấy tiếng thét kinh khủng 

từ giấc mơ tan vỡ

viết vội trên một chiếc giường 


nếu bạn có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi

bạn sẽ thấy những cái bóng 

ẩn giấu trong tôi


bạn sẽ nghe thấy tiếng chuông

rít lên những từ ngữ:

– tôi mệt mỏi, tôi phạm lỗi 

tôi là một kẻ thất bại


nếu bạn có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi

bạn sẽ cảm thấy những giọt nước mắt 

tôi đã từng khóc


bạn sẽ thấy những lỗ thủng 

mà không ai được giải thoát


nếu bạn có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi

bạn sẽ có thể đọc 

một cuốn sách bạn không bao giờ muốn 

chạm vào và đọc


nhưng đôi khi tôi vẫn ước 

ai đó có thể đọc được suy nghĩ của tôi…

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

5 replies on “Lê Vĩnh Tài | if you could read my thoughts (81)”

And so it be old friend Lê Vĩnh Tài,
although we might have never met and never see each other.
In thought we were one, by hearts shattered pieces.
But there is light, there was always light and more beyond.
Like you, if only people could have read my thoughts and seen my visions.
But I know they did, at least some of them might here and there.
Hopefully more and more now, these days, everywhere.
The weight of the world upon our shoulders.
The weight of it all until we fall.
And so I laid on the floor like dead, left my body it seemed.
See it all around when walking, when being in bed.
As if I watch a stranger there.

I failed to die, so I thought I can’t fail more.
But then I probably haven’t really tried, was meant for it at all.
But then was anyone?
When I was or am fully me, I couldn’t see the full abyss (anymore).
I only see an endless space fill with endless variation, although maybe hidden in detail.
I just knew it was there, like one knows a book might be fill with pages full of words.
They could all be empty, but usually when you open one, it is full of words.
So like with a book I know what is in it before I open it,
although I can’t be sure and was surprised each time.

And by my freezing toes and fingers, I know that the endless seeming pain can’t be forever.
Those who fail to be, they are gifted to see.
So they may teach, and feel for all those who are forgotten, for they seem one of them.

I am a weird man of many words and I wish I would have never had to use them.
Only to tell stories, sing and maybe invent some words for fun.
Or just not speak at all, if I wouldn’t have to, like thoughts speaking for themselves.
Understanding without the need of words.

Without those who catch the darkness, it would all be unseen, and might get everlasting.
The one who catches it, writes it down or in another form, they should be honored and not overseen. Without you many more might have died and got lost in the holes you mentioned.

Lê Vĩnh Tài, who ever you are, thank you for failing.
Thank you for all you did and if it just were words for others to read.
Some tears rolling down my left eye. You shall never be forgotten.

And thank you Trâm for translating all of these words and the ones you write yourself.
Tears of love, sadness and joy. From one shadow to another. And from the shadow to your heart. 💜

Liked by 2 people

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