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Manoa 14.1 (2002) 96-98
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Poetry Manifesto for the New Millennium
Write poems always the martial arts for adventurers
Ossein, pills, and powder—hereditary family power
Poems especially to cure leprosy
Diabetes and bloody urination
Skin diseases, irregular menstruation
Poems to beautify what's ugly
Poems to clean what's grimy
Poems to bring sight to the sightless
Now and a thousand years to come.
Main Street Revisited
Our parents and grandparents, directors of the stage
They play their trumpets and drums a bit poorly
That's to say it kindly
Before we can learn the four directions and how to count
They carry us on their backs south of the seventeenth parallel
Raise us up on sun-soaked boulevards
Under the shadows of ramrod-straight flaming trees
They, the directors of the stage
Of half of what no one could seriously call a country
They left behind the coins in their pockets
Boarded the helicopters that landed on the roofs
Steered their boats to the high sea [End Page 96]
Now occasionally we return
Sing karaokewith girls half our age
Songs that our parents and grandparents, directors of the stage,
Worthless left behind
Krung Thep Princess Mingles Bar Midnight Blues
Put me up!
Put me down!
Put my feet back on the ground!
This woman is short but wears a miniskirt
A ten-centimeter heel couldn't make her legs any longer
She drains the life out of me with her singing
here at the dance hall, second floor of the hotel
Atrium, 1880 Pechtburi Bangkok.
Queen of the stage
queen of the blow-dried haircut
queen of the hot tub
queens who lie inviting
Twelve months multiplying in the sea
Gates big and small sit watching the tide
Queens hiding their heads under the table
Mouths chewing audibly
Queens of the streets [End Page 97]
Les princesses de la rue!
In the nightclub of a Ha Noi hotel
A short leg is like any short leg
Knees on the stage all look alike
Look at you, dancing body lustful
One looks like the other
She raises her leg, her hand
Country roads, take me home!
Breaking heart!Aching heart!
Who will ever stop the rain . . .
This season there is no rain . . .
I feel sad to the point of tears
but not a drop comes
to fall into my orange vodka.
Translations by Kevin Bowen and Nguyen Ba Chung
Do Kh. was born in 1955 in Hai Phong. After studying in Paris in 1974, he decided to return to South Viet Nam, where he enlisted in the army; later, he went back to Paris, where he now lives. His publications include The Poetry of Do Kh., Unspeakable Chagrins, The Rain-Making Stick, Record of the Trip to the West, and Prewar Time. He cofounded Hop Luu journal and Tap Chi Tho.