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More BMR Authors' Books:

Making Scenes
by Adrienne Eisen

Small Boat with Oars of Different Size
by Thom Ward

Viking Brides
by Richard Cumyn

Interesting Monsters
by Aldo Alvarez

The Gauguin Answer Sheet
by Dennis Finnell

Rosicrucian in the Basement
by Robert Sward

Bloodroot
by Aaron Roy Even




























The Blue Moon Review
 

 
Three Poems
by Lam Thi My Da
translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh

The Color of Phai Street
At Tet, people buy chickens in the market
I bought a clay rooster when I was a child
Now that earthen rooster lies in the earth 
But he's still crowing brightly against the sky

Suddenly a rainbow sweeps before me
Many beautiful flowers speak dreamy words
In the flowers a small angel keeps appearing
Her dark eyes waiting, full of anticipation

Sometimes I think the soul is the color of Phai Street
Its silent mossy tiles, its silent walls
The morning weather, like being seventeen 
The leaves waking up, releasing their strange scent

* * *

Illusive Lover
I wait in rain for the Ha Long Bay ferry
The storm churns black coffee in my cup
Ha Long Bay, like a lover I've never met
Desire is swirling anxiously in my heart

How can it be that we might not meet?
If it keeps storming, I might have to turn back
Ha Long Bay—a beautiful dream
Like you, forever distant

Please let my imagination
Fall like a leaf against your magical face
Your handsome face that humbles the gods
A wanderer's face, with dreamlike features

I am resigned: I will become a desert
And bow to say goodbye to you
In the rain that falls on the far horizon
Ha Long Bay is like an illusive lover
A lover who doesn't exist in this life 

* * *

Dawn
Cock a-doo—
Cock a-doo—
The rooster fills his lungs with daylight
The grandmother's broom sweeps layers of night away
Moonlight dissolves in the white areca blossoms
The boiling rice-pot sounds like a burst of rain
The mother rolls up her pants
And lifts her shoulder poles to carry seed
The father exhales pipe smoke
Breath by gray-blue breath

Voices laugh in the distance 
In the mist by the village road
Damp grass is barely visible 
Spiderwebs 
The river market is bustling
Brimming with vegetables 
An oar rustles lightly
The river trembles

Night blooms
Like an egg into day
Dreaming birds sing in the trees 
Falling stars fill the cistern

There's a lazy man
Who often sleeps late
This morning he wakes early
And stands to watch the day break
Now his idleness saddens him
Because he knows it has made him lose
All those clear cool dawns 


Lam Thi My Da lives in Hue, Vietnam. She has published five collections of poems in Vietnam, as well as three books for children. Poem without Month or Year (1984) won the National Award for Poetry, and Dedicated to a Dream (1998) received highest honors from the National United Board of Vietnamese Literature and the Arts. Lam Thi My Da graduated from the Writers' College in Vietnam, studied literature at Gorky University in Russia, and served with the youth brigades and the women's engineering units during the American war in Vietnam; she has worked as a reporter and a literary editor, and has served on the Poetry Council of the Vietnam Writers' Association. Translations of her poems have been featured in Six Vietnamese Poets (Curbstone, 2002), as well as in Manoa, Poetry International, and Santa Fe Poetry Broadside. A bilingual edition of her poems, co-translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh, will be published by Curbstone Press in 2003.  

Martha Collins is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which, Some Things Words Can Do, was published by Sheep Meadow in 1999. She has also co-translated, with the author, The Women Carry River Water, a collection of poems by Vietnamese poet Nguyen Quang Thieu, which was published by UMass in 1997 and won an award from the American Literary Translators Association in 1998. Collins is Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College, where she also serves as one of the editors of FIELD.

Thuy Dinh is a writer and attorney living in the Washington, D.C. area. Her essays, film and book reviews have appeared in Amerasia Journal; Rain Taxi Review of Books; the anthology Once Upon a Dream: Twenty Years of Vietnamese-American Experience (Andrews and McMeel, 1995); Hop Luu Magazine and Viet Magnet. Since the fall of 2000, she has been working with Martha Collins in translating the poems of Lam Thi My Da. This year, a few of their translated poems have appeared in the anthology Six Vietnamese Poets, eds. Nguyen Ba Chung and Kevin Bowen (Curbstone: 2002); Manoa; Poetry International; the websites Santa Fe Poetry Broadside and Poetry Daily.

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