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Manoa 14.1 (2002) 138
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Tran Tien Dung
At the Barbershop
Me, if I look into the barbershop mirror I want to be a revolutionary it's not clear, between hairstyles and the art of cleaning out ear wax, which is a more satisfying revolution. I am a dark-skinned, working-class man, and don't normally pay attention to that value, but if someone pastes the color red or white on my eyes, I go crazy immediately my entire body darkens to the color of blood pudding mixed with the aroma of mint leaves and peanuts. I hate to join the uprising of those at the wine bar but each evening I'm drowned in that piss smell. I crave the sort of wine brewed from the sea the sea speaks a universal language the sea cuts hair and cleans out ear wax several times a month each clump of hair each clump of ear wax is a ship carrying consciousness of democracy to help shriveled old men become boys with large foreheads incubating dreams of becoming the president.
Chicken-feather-duck-feather sky a sneeze redolent of five spices. Schools over flames, one and all can learn about fear, the lessons dragging from one night to the next each night fear is honed into a sword planted on a head a place where the wind howls. Fear! That's the kind of music I want to hear not always good but a safe kind of music. I listen to it endlessly I listen until death and the criminal just want to return the corpses.
Translations by Linh Dinh
Tran Tien Dung was born in Go Cong in 1957 and now lives in Ho Chi Minh City. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, Moving Mass (1997) and Appear (2000). His appearance in this issue is his first in English.