To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Friday, March 16, 2012

A New Vietnamese Avant-Garde, Part Two: Four Poems by Phan Bá Thọ & Lý Đợi

Translation from Vietnamese by Jack J. Huynh

 [The following is continued from a previous posting, in which details are given of an extraordinary & little known development in contemporary Vietnamese poetry & culture, like all true avant-garde art “against the grain.”]

k a f k a c o c a i n e
annotations: 1. to verify these clauses, please contact
cell fone: 0908.376.458 inquiries direct to the devil’s
     assistant phan bá th
2. in accordance with his understanding, superficial or
     simply put [of course], there are 999... reasons
dreadfully distorted, namely [several circumstances,
     sporadically cited]:
- as nguyn hu hng minh was at great pains, because
     her motorbike crashed itself
- as the poet nguyn quc chánh, because he neglected
     many things + his wife
- the condition of 2 brothers, at pains to go out in the street
a wisp of poison wind passes the lips of the yawning mouth,
     & as such:

the sun is hell [1] or to speak contrarily [thoroughly,
preposterously harshly misused etc. – etc. however
     discretion permits &] it knows that
as humans ® always in motion, changing for the worse
it’s always pursued by implications stuck like glue
     because of its own shadow
this problem is of more use[less] than erroneousness
     / join / the thoughts of very many people
1.5 / aus
looking straight on [except when strolling
     contemplatively some scenes of production] it
always sees straight in the time it displaces
[this fact denounces the original act of fidelitous
     cohabitation, fearful & timorous
its uprightness opposes many things...]
25 /
rigorously execute 112004 statutes
[including: the 2003 statue concerning spouses, to rest
     the head neck heart lungs &
densely the terms vague
things turn back once more, fossilized backwards
     underdeveloped descendants,
offspring without prescription pressing tummies
this fact also demonstrates continually, the act of
ill breeding – natural naivety – innate to it & to
     all the many
approvals similarly afflicted with it
33 / beer.humbly base
to summarize, since the time it was discovered
     we: humanity
it also discovered facts: it’s worse than a worm
rotting till not craving knowledge of the statutes
     of people
changing for the worse / inside of it, with a
     squeak of freedom
[thought thats the thing freedom lets pee all over]
hell sparkles shimmering with light & this fact can
     also be contrary ®
worms also follow its shadow
the complex thing to obtain is when, all the worms
     and people don’t distinguish
where’s kafka where is cocaine ®
everything is gloomy obscure / surreptitious /
     entangled and absent of meaning or explanation
the following lines, which often give: 2 rascals,
     open - lips
- mouth – distorted – face [2]

Phan Bá Th: “k a f k a c o c a i n”, from Đng rác vô tn (Endless Rubbish Heap)

who the fuck are you

a baby girl with 70 years experience zipping in and out of
     alleyways at night
an old daddy wanton & messy in many ways, also inviting
them here, knowing 80% who I am
I, not taking the name rilke or rimbaud
guessing, its not the men women & depraved
not homo [ monetary / consubstantiated ] sexual etc.
     & etc.
[hey, the quality of all the flawless & self-contented
speaking honestly I, a cow bound tight in a deserted
     house with much comfort
body riddled with holes but flawed, barren of a hole to
every day, I chew up a blade of green grass & ten dead
swallow 30 kilowatts whole but still take more.

 Phan Bá Th “mày là ai", from Đng rác vô tn (Endless rubbish heap)

Constitution (or the law) for a public restroom
       + inevitably following observations made in HCMC,
and also a gift for Vi Thuy Linh, Hanoi.
                     - Do not put your feet on the toilet seat
                     - Do not flush tampons down the toilet
                     - Do not write nonsense on the wall

                          [especially poetry]
                     - Do not shoot up on drugs, substances
                          which cause addiction or aggression
                     - Do not make use of the private room to leak
                          national secrets
                     - Do not hock loogies, litter, ash cigarettes
                          messily about
                     - Do not masturbate
                     - You can not use condoms [both men and
                     - You can not use profanity
                     - You can not forget to flush the toilet
                     - You can not forget to pay money
                     - You can not forget your personal effects and


                    And finally: PLEASE KEEP PUBLIC HYGIENE

                                    IGNORE PERSONAL HYGIENE

                                    PLEASE KEEP PUBLIC HYGIENE

is the terminology pressing the light of life in the substance
     and spirit of my Vietnam
because all same Compatriots
because all same Uniform
because all same Unanimously concentric
Because all same Accomplices
Because all same Coreligionists
Because all same Fellow disciples
because all same Comrades
because all same Sickness
Because all same Brass
Because all same Empty unharvested moor
Because all Same same… alike each other
Lazy, ignorant, meddling, disgraced, sullied, falsified,
     misrepresented misled and victimized among ourselves
     ... this is our profession
We live according to the doctrine [magic] law [jungle]
We are a public bathroom
Can’t be this, can’t be that...
But in the end also must: KEEP PUBLIC HYGIENE

Lý Đi: “Đnh chế [hay là lut] ca cu tiêu công cng”

First Dish: Boiled

                + According to the Northern style of boiled water spinach

When living in Vietnam eating boiled dishes is best
There has yet to be found a thing the Vietnamese cannot boil...

Thus said:
            Living in Vietnam, boiling is best

From boiled hondas, real estate, diplomas, titles of
From boiled hygiene, food safety regulations, insurance...
From boiled intelligence, aesthetics, culture, human
From boiled human rights, freedom, thought, psyche...
There’s yet to be found a thing Vietnam can’t boil
            Living in Vietnam, boiling is best
From boiling to boiled
Everybody thinking about boiling
Every household joining the boiling
Industries test racing boiling...
Really there’s only one reason why we’re boiled: is we’re
As such:
             Living in Vietnam, boiling is best
             Boiled is best
             Boil is best
             Boil best...

Lý Đi: “Món 1: Luc”

[biographical note. Lý Đi, a freelance journalist and poet, is along with Bùi Chát a co-founder and major member of the M Ming (Open Mouth) poetry group.  Phan Bá Th is a practicing lawyer and well-respected figure among Sài Gòn’s underground literary circles.]

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