Ocean Vuong



Gấu có thể là người đầu tiên, trong giới viết lách, khi post bài thơ của anh, về bức hình Tướng Loan xử VC ngay trên đường phố Sài Gòn. Bài thơ, ý nghĩa của nó, khác hẳn, không giống ai, trong giới cầm bút Mít khi phát biểu về nó.

Ocean Vuong

The Photo

After the infamous 1968 photograph of a Viet Cong officer executed by South Vietnam's national police chief.

What hurts the most
is not how death
is made permanent
by the cameras flash
the irony of sunlight
on gunmetal
but the hand gripping the pistol
is a yellow hand,
and the face squinting
behind the barrel
a yellow face.

Like all photographs this one fails
to reveal the picture.
Like where the bullet
entered his skull
the phantom of a rose
leapt into light, or how
after smoke cleared
from behind the fool
with blood on his cheek
and the dead dog by his feet

a white man
was lighting a cigarette.




Bức hình

Điều làm đau thật là khủng
Thì không phải như thế nào
Cái chết trở thành chuyện thường ngày ở huyện,
Chuyện cơm bữa,
Chuyện thường hằng,
Nhờ cái ánh chớp của máy camera,
Cái tiếu lâm của ánh mặt trời
Trên thép súng,
Nhưng mà là, cái bàn tay nắm chặt khẩu súng
Là của 1 tên da vàng mũi tẹt
Và cái bộ mặt liếc xéo
Đằng sau nòng súng
Là bộ mặt của 1 tên da vàng mũi tẹt.

Như tất cả những tấm hình
Tấm này thì cũng thất bại
Không nói lên được cái chó gì cả.
Thí dụ,
Khi viên đạn chui vô sọ anh ta
Thì một bóng ma của một bông hồng nở ra
Làm sao mà lại xẩy ra cái cảnh, sau khi khói thuốc súng tan đi
Ở đằng sau tên khùng với máu ở trên má
Và một con chó chết ở dưới chân

Một tên da trắng mũi lõ
Bật quẹt hút thuốc lá.

Với Sến:

Tôi sẽ không bao giờ gột nổi thiếu tướng Nguyễn Ngọc Loan trong bức hình nổi tiếng của Eddie Adams ra khỏi trí nhớ….
PTH (1)
… chuyện ông Loan rút súng bóp cò làm tù binh xịt máu và văng óc, chúng ta đều đã có ý kiến...
Đỗ Kh. talawas
Không ngờ xuống cấp đến mức như thế này!
Hết thuốc chữa!
Bài thơ này, thấy post trên tờ Harper's, nhưng Gấu không mua, nên không đọc được, có trong cuốn Thời gian là 1 bà mẹ. Gấu đọc, nhưng quái là không mặn, chán thế!
"Dear Rose"
"I have known the body of my mother, sick and then dying."
Let me begin again now
that you're gone Ma
if you're reading this then you survived
your life into this one if
you're reading this
then the bullet doesn't know us
yet but I know Ma you can't
read napalm fallen on your
schoolhouse at six & that
was it they say a word
is only what it
signifies that's howl know
the arrowhead in my
back means I'm finally
pretty a word like bullet
hovers in an amber
afternoon on its way to
meaning the book opens like
a door but the only one you
ever read was a coffin its
hinges swung shut on lush descriptions
of a brother I point to
you to me today a Thursday I
took a long walk alone it
didn't work kept stopping
to touch my shadow just in case
feeling is the only truth
& there down
there between thumb & forefinger
an ant racing in circles then zigzags
I wanted significance but think
it was just the load he was bearing
that unhinged him: another ant
curled & cold lifted on
his shoulders they looked like a set
of quotations missing speech it's said
they can carry over 5,000 times their mass
but it's often bread crumbs
not brothers that get carried
home but going too far
is to admit the day ends anywhere
but here no no Mom this
is your name I say pointing
to Hồng on the birth certificate thin
as dust Hồng I say which means
rose I place your finger on a flower so
familiar it feels synthetic red
plastic petals dewed with glue I leave
it out of my poems I turn from
its face - clichéd oversize
head frayed at the edges
like something ruptured
by a bullet I was born
because you were starving but
how can anything be
found with only two hands
with only two hands you dumped
a garbage bag of anchovies into the glass jar
the day was harmless a breeze hovering
in amber light above us gray
New England branches swayed without
touching to make fish sauce you said
you must bear the scent of corpses
salted & crushed a year in a jar tall
as a boy they dropped with slick
thumps like bullets each word must stop
somewhere—why not a yellow
poet I put in the fish sauce I take out
the fish sauce I dance
on the line until I am the line
they cross or cross
out they nearly killed me
you said for being white
with a toilet plunger you pushed the fish
down sound of bones like gravel
the violet vein on your wrist glistened
your father was a white soldier
I had amber hair you said they called me
traitor called me ghost
girl they smeared my face with cow shit
at the market to make me brown
like you & your father the eyes glared
from inside the jar they shot
my brother you said looking down
but away from the dead
eyes my little brother
if reading is to live
in two worlds at once why
is he not here Ben said you can do
anything in a poem
so I stepped right out of it into
this one to be entered is
to be redefined the bullet achieves its name
by pushing flesh into flesh I was struck
by these words we say I was caught by
this passage it moved right through opened
me up these eyes reading not
yet healed shut but full of lead
-en meaning which parts
a red sea inside me sinew dusted to soft tissue
my blood a borderless translation
of errors in the reader's
hands a gaping rose Hồng
I say which also means
pink the shade every bullet meets
before finding its truest self Calvino said
human instinct is to laugh
when someone falls the soldiers
were cracking up as they fired
your brother running his sky
-blue shirt pink on the ground
our evolution as hunters Calvino went on
the collapsed body a signal
of meat thus hunger leads to lethal
joy it's almost perfect
you smiled your nose deep
in the jar because the bullet
makes you real by making you less
which is perfect in poems the text
amplified by murder
-ous deletions leads to inevitable
art the pristine prisoner
in his marble coffin the length
of a fish a timeline
across the page to document days
the dead a measurement of
living distance
the corpse blooming
as it decays Pink Rose Hồng Mom
are you reading this dear
reader are you my mom yet
I cannot find her without you this
place I've made you can't
enter within months their meat
will melt into brown mucus rot almost
-sauce the linear fish-spine dissolved
by time at last pungent scent
of ghosts you said you named me
after a body of water 'cause
it's the largest thing you knew
after god I stare at the silvered layers
the shadowed line between two pressed fish
is a finger in the dark gently remembered
in the dark his finger
on my lips Ma his shhh
your friend the man watching me
while you worked the late
shift in the Timex clock factory why
am I thinking this now the gasped throats
mottled pocked fins gently the door its blade
of amber light widening as it opened
shhh it sounds like an animal
being drowned as you churned
the jar your yellow-white arms pink
fish guts foaming up gently you must
remember gently the man he's in
the '90s still his face a black rose
closing do you know
what it's like my boy my
boy you said sweating above the jar
to be the only one hated the only
one the white enemy of your own
country your own
face the trees they were roaring
above us red leaves leaving little cuts
in the sky gently I touched
your elbow the fish swirling
in their gone merry-go-round
sightless eyes no no Ma I said
holding my breath I don't know
what it's like & turned
my head up toward the sun
which brightly cancels
if you're reading this then
I survived my life into yours
you who told your brother you were hungry
so he stole a roasted chicken
so he tucked it under his sky
-blue shirt & it's not
your fault reader you had
to work you had to get up
in the blood-blue dawn to warm
up your car you who held
instant coffee with both hands
ate your lunch of Wonder Bread dipped
in condensed milk in the parking lot
alone you bought me pencils reader I could
not speak so I wrote myself into
silence where I stood waiting for you Ma
to read me do you read me now do you
copy mayday mayday you who dreamed
of dipping shreds of chicken
into fish sauce as you hid in the caves
above your village you white
devil girl starving ghost
but I shouldn't have been so
hungry you said looking up
at the leaves vermilion through the brother
-blue sky I hated my hunger the veins
on your fists the jar all amber crush
empty as a word
-less mind stop writing
about your mother they said
but I can never take out
the rose it blooms back as my own
pink mouth how
can I tell you this when you're always
to the right of meaning
as it pushes you further into white
space how can I say the hole
in your brother's back is not
a part of your brother but your brother
aparted who is still somewhere
running because I wrote it
in the present tense the bullet held
just behind his death an insect
trapped in amber the charred
chicken clutched to his chest dust
rising from sandals
as he sprints toward the future
where you're waiting by the rain
-warped window wet footsteps
on Risley Rd but dear reader
it's only your son coming home
again after school after
the bullies put his face in brown
dirt what if I said the fastest
finger pointing to you Ma
is me would you look away
I point to you no no I went right
through you left a pink rose blazing
in the middle of the hospital
in Sài Gòn reader who
cannot read
or write you wrote a son
into the world with no
words but a syllable so much
like a bullet its heat fills you
today a Thursday
(ours not Vallejo's) partly
cloudy a little wind I
kneel to write
our names on the sidewalk
& wait for the letters to
signal a future an
arrow pointing to a way
out I stare & stare
until it grows too dark to
read the ant & his brother long
home by now night
flooding the concrete black
my arms dim as incomplete
sentences reader I've
plagiarized my life
to give you the best
of me & these words these
insects anchovies
bullets salvaged & exiled
by art Ma my art these
corpses I lay
side by side on
the page to tell you
our present tense
was not too late




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