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PROSE

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm | Beauty is not in perfection; beauty is by the years marred. (60)

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

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EPIC POEM/TRƯỜNG CA

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – BÀI TRƯỜNG CA VỀ CÁNH ĐỒNG BẤT NHÂN

Lê Vĩnh Tài is a Vietnamese poet, a resident of the West Highlands. A retired medical doctor, currently an acclaimed businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

The translation has taken two years to complete, I hope you enjoy the final edit.

(July 2021)

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 37/37

Infusing hope into shrouds
Turning them into drifting clouds
The poet always want to appear to be amorous
Innocent

Innocently hiding behind the back door of the Palace
Gosh how graceful
The devil and their gifts
Obedient
A loaf of bread and a gun
The grandiose exaggeration

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 36/37

History is a book
Full of the images of dead kings
The poem had placed its cold hand 
Upon the faces of Kings
Closed their eyes
The dictators in the end had to surrender
This is the fate of money tainted with blood

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 35/37

The poem is thinking of you
Even though you’ve been obliterated by bullets
The poem doesn’t understand why the past needs to be stretched out for so long
A piece of land drenched in blood and then tears
The poets continued endlessly with their tricks
All in the name of the nation
Dragging out
Its fate
To where?

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 32/37

But the poem demands a promise from the poet
That I must continue to love you
From the day you descended the paddocks back bent digging and filling up the holes
The gut wrenching exhaustion
Sold everything to survive
Sold as well the life of
Your children
To the pools of mud
The overwhelming saltiness

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 31/37

A witness to the budding grass within the vernacular
You’re the green grass
Though red is your chest
But the best question has no answer
I am the void within your tomb
I’m curled up nestled within your humiliation
Even when you’re a bullet
You wouldn’t want to be in any way marred
Not even a fingernail
You like to fly(not fail)

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 30/37

We all know you’re sinking my dear
Like the vow of the thousands of people
Long ago adrift out at sea

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 29/37

What’s left are the summon notices
In the end of all the people involved

Lonely. Like the thoughts in one’s mind
The fear. Beyond death
Not the consumables tainted by Chinese poisons.

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 26/37

One half of the truth is not the truth
But half of the agony is half of the pain
And the poet’s blown up face
Gets blown up along with his beard
Except the poem couldn’t be blown up
Since it may possibly be, a choking hazard

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 24/37

But when the onlookers scream
The word “cheat” gets stuck in their throat
It couldn’t escape
Spit and mucus were all they could spare

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF  INHUMANITY – 23/37

Instead of the severe inflation
Instead of beyond the wooden pikes the invasion
Instead of the exported brides
Like they had to quickly withdraw and ejaculate
More tiring than breathing

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 21/37

Yes, you’re nothing but an object
Tightly bound
In copper wire
A kind of power
You thought belonged to you
How can you be that despicable

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 19/37

A glimpse of someone naked
Grabbing at their clothes void of any kind of sensuality
Imagine your face
After that

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 17/37

There within the darkest instant 
The purest moment of clarity 
An escape from poverty
A new beginning

The colours of a bride
The blinding brilliance

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 16/37

They actually, couldn’t recall
Or were they aware of the destruction of the crops, it never happened
Just the opening and closing of a dream
Even gone was the light
In the blink of the eye, the bird’s  eye view

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 15/37

This Tết, lots of people like you
Chomp on soft stuff like watermelon
But after the first bite lose their teeth

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 6/37

Unto you allow me this
Darkness is something we all cherish
Because in the dark
Evil can be
Effortlessly misplaced

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PHOTOGRAPHY POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | A FIELD OF INHUMANITY – 1/37

You’re happy when it’s been explained
How cosy spring is
When I left
My shadow long upon the pavement
How I could never wear black

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PHOTOGRAPHY SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Văn Thiện | DEMENTIA (20)

By Nguyễn Văn Thiện, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm   DEMENTIA You wake up one day, with a broken mind. You read about such things but never believed it. You’re full of doubts, you know after every cloud there’s another, and each bout of wind swallows the other. When you discover that you no longer […]