Poems by Nguyen Ngoc Tung – Vietnam

Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετρόπουλου Λιανου

His brief biography: He was born in 1950, in Vinh Phuc province. Former Chairman of Vinh Phuc Culture and Arts Association, term 7 (2009-2014). Published 13 books of poetry and prose. Won 9 literary awards. Member of Vietnam Writers’ Association; Member of Vietnam Ethnic Minority Culture and Arts Association; Member of Vietnam Journalists’ Association; Member of Vietnam Association of Architects; Members of the Association of Culture and Arts of Vinh Phuc province.

His poems:

The Midland afternoon

It is green autumn afternoon in the Midland

The round-shape tea hills, the bowl-upside-down tea hills

Continuously green buds

Where is my older sister now?

At the age of eighteen, she went to a far away land for reclaiming

Calloused hands, smooth gravels

Her whole lifetime is to care roots

Gong sounds of the tea farm still echoing to the future?

The tea parcels are like the fingerprints of the Midland

The green youth, full of aspiration

The rainy December, the tan May

At night, bathing by the moon, sobbing by the forest sound.

The bullet-bomb time cutting the promise

The father went to the battlefield without knowing his child’s face

How many tea trees, the same plenty of people’s love and the land love

The loves that she preserved for caring the green sprouts.

A fragrant teacup sipping the taste of the homeland

Soaking in the moonlight, the love of the youth age

The street behind the hills, pink tiles and white clouds

Releasing to the sky, the Midland dream.

(Tam Dao, September 2021)

Khai Quang

The deserted hills in the past years

It was barren and inert with stones and gravels

The days herding the buffalo, playing marbles, catching crickets

Melastomataceae flowers dying purple of hill memories.

The hills did not produced rice for generations

Did not create works in the leisure time

The village was starving all year round

Boys and girls gathering to the streets.

When the land is a potential advantage

The hill areas are bustling with industrial zones

The factories are busy days and nights

The vast roads are busy with cars passing by.

Returning to Khai Quang is like walking in a dream

Meeting everyone with open smiles

The village changing day by day, the streets jostling

The old homeland people returning to replace the homeland leaving.

Businessmen and businesswomen

Buying and selling transactions on the phones

Getting rich despite of the horizon or corners of the sea

Our homeland has opened happy ways!

                                              (Vinh Yen 2021)

The legendary echo city

Ciconiiformes footprints putting on the top of the Red River Delta

Deserted days

Turning to the junction of Bach Hac River

The ancient land, the curling dragon, the kneeling elephant

Nghia Linh Mountain discovering its origin

The legend of King Hung who built Van Lang country

The offspring of Lac Hong, some people went to the forest, others went to the sea…

The river junction, clear and unclear flows

Its shape of ciconiiformes foot opening the Red River civilization

The king taught the people to plow from the ancient land of Minh Nong

Growing rice, growing moraceae, weaving silk

Planting bamboos against floods, planting palms for roofs

Planting tea trees for drinking

Neighbors lived with minds “tribulation and hardship sharing”

Opening boat racing and palanquin festivals

Rice cakes, fragrance in the countryside

The old saying: “drink the water, remember the source”…

By my village, by your village

Boats turning waves to connect the two loving shores

Upstream of the Lo Xanh, windy Thao River

Buying the betel in Dau market, selling arecas in Nu market

Singing Trong Quan, listening to the ancient chant and forgetting the way back.

The day I built Viet Tri industrial park

The dusty city, houses without numbers, streets without names

The market in middle of the streets calling the “grab” market into a familiar

The back-forth trains acrossing the bridge

Passing the workers village, romantic clouds.

Today returning to “Festival City”

Horizontal boulevards, high-rise street blocks

You are in a shift with the sound of machines

People’s faces are bright with the spring color.

You go with me on Hung Vuong Boulevard

From the Hung Temple echoing Uncle Ho’s words:

“The Hung Kings had merit in building the country

Our next generations must protect the country together!”

Young soldiers offering the incense to the fatherland

Listening tenderly to the waves on Truong Sa.

Dear Viet Tri, legendary echo

The river junction, white ciconiiformes flying back…

A clay pot

In old time, my mother went to the provincial market

Bought the clay pot to cook rice

The days boiled by the straw

The straw roof, the kitchen smoke wandering.

Every season the water rising

The mother caught the fish upstream

Anabas testudineus stewing with Alpinia officinarum by the clay pot

The fragrance spreading to the whole riverside neighborhood.

The clay pot was as gentle as the clay

Soot smudged all day

The mother’s life was hard from early mornings to late nights

Under the sunshine and rain, torn clothes.

Mom, the clay pot was slim

Broken, how can it be healed?

Who played the game of breaking the clay pot?

Risk games buying the laughter.

Dear mother returned to the heaven

The clay pot is no longer on the stove

Where is the smell of burning sticky rice?

I return, full of missing my dear mother.

A sheet of calendar

Peeling off the last sheet of the year-end calendar

The winter still has a few leaves

Goodbye old year

Emotionally meeting an apricot branch.

Carrying the four seasons on the shoulder

Hanging the calendar for months and days

Happy and sad scattering

No one knows how many flooding seasons in a year?

The new road, not forgetting the old way

How many flower seasons in a year?

With good seasons, birds return chirping

Bad seasons, the market is empty.

The rain and the wind are all over

The pandemic is over

Downstream boats, remembered wharfs

We turn back to the old days.

Peeling off the old Winter

Hanging new Spring

The time is like flowing water

The calendar burdening the sadness and joy. 

Translated into English by Khanh Phuong