Lê Vĩnh Tài | no. 18:15 – I’ve lost a lifetime consuming scrap

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, a 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, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

I’ve lost a lifetime 

consuming scrap


I’m circling, flying short-sighted

over a sad and derelict

garden of Eden


you escaped

so you hung me 

upside down

I have to look up at you 

from down under


and since I’m

no longer in sync with you

at any given time I would stop and 

demand food


as you weave the deception 

for your retreat

into a place

no one could penetrate

you sigh


within a week, you would swell up

and burst open

in the realisation that

fresh blood

will ooze like flower petals

glossy parting lips

my feet will then take-off


as you have flown

without an engine stabiliser

or the aid of a pilot


if I wanted to fly with you

all I need to do is vibrate

like the mobile in my pant pocket

with the promise:

I’ll message you when I’m done.


tôi đã mất một nửa cuộc đời

chỉ để ăn phế liệu


tôi bay trong trạng thái

cận thị, quanh một khu vườn

buồn và cũ

bạn đã thoát

vì thế bạn đã treo tôi

lộn ngược

để nhìn bạn từ phía dưới

vén lên

bởi vì tôi

không còn cùng bạn di chuyển

thậm chí cứ tùy ý dừng lại

đòi ăn

bây giờ bạn đang dệt một vỏ bọc

rút lui

vào nơi

không ai có thể vào

bạn thở phào

trong vòng vài tuần, bạn sẽ sưng lên

và vỡ

bạn biết

máu tươi

sẽ bơm qua như cánh hoa đang hé đôi môi

rực rỡ

tôi sẽ nhấc hai chân của tôi

và bay

như bạn đã bay

không cân động cơ

hay phi công hỗ trợ


nếu tôi bay với bạn một lần nữa

tôi chỉ phải rung lên thôi

vì trong túi quần tôi

vẫn có chiếc điện thoại mà bạn đã hứa:

khi nào xong em sẽ nhắn tin..

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

13 replies on “Lê Vĩnh Tài | no. 18:15 – I’ve lost a lifetime consuming scrap”

This ones seems as if someone is about to jump down.
While all they want is to fly upwards.
Trapped in the middle, being tired of waiting.

But if it isn’t then I am sorry and thank you for sharing and translating it here. ❤

Liked by 1 person

Yep, that’s true, about the poetry and the relationships. I just usually want to know what made someone write or do something and how they felt, rather than what I might see in it.

You take care as well. 💜

Liked by 1 person

LVT is a medical doctor, he has the head of a scientist and the heart of a poet, this might help you see his poetry in a different light. There are many layers of meaning in his poetry. E.G. in this poem, he literally paints her moods due to her menstruation cycle, to him she is beautiful still, but thoughtless when she’s in such a state. I have these insights only of my many translations and research of his poetry over two years, even though I’ve only started blogging since May to help with the frustration of the pandemic. It is beyond my wish that his poetry would have reached anyone. So again, I thank you.

Liked by 1 person

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