Xuan Son was born in Thua Thien Vietnam in 1942. He began
writing poetry in 1962. Vien Pho, his first collection of poetry,
published in 1989 by Viet Chien Publisher. His most recent work
Hue Buon Chi, a collection of poems published in 1993. Hoang
Xuan Son's poems have appeared in numerous magazines of
literature and art published in the United States and Canada.

Suddenly One Day
(To Cao Tan)

I have lived here all of three years
but haven't got a high nose or blue eyes
All of a sudden, one day I became a citizen of X country
It's all there, on paper, fully spelled out
That I enjoy every right, of every sort

O it's stinging enough enduring three years!
At any rate I should still say thanks to this land of indifference
Which indifferently turned me, an unskilled one, into a skilled one
I can now handle hammer and pliers without too much shame

Are we happy on this day of skin shedding?
We shed our immigrants' coat, always on the receiving end.
How come tears keep welling in our eyes?
Are they tears of happiness or tears for our uprootedness?

Translated by Nguyen Ngoc Bich
Springfield, February 19, 1989


I'm standing here, before you
The huge garbage of the soul
I'd like to ask you
How long have you been through

The waste of a beautiful life
The curl of a poor death
The wanderings of unnecessary badness

I really love to know your feelings on
The silence of an empty barrel
The disability of a baby doll
And the fading of words at all

You'll be soon in recycle
Back to your original
As material, wood and stone

But I'm recycling myself I know
Every tick-tock every row
Recycle me Here and Now
In every breath out .


A Golden Fall In The Old Town

When leaves in maplewoods turn redder yet,
he smells the sandarac scent all wafting hereabout
Oh, these resplendent autum on strange soil!
He still longs for one golden fall in his old town,
misses its streets at purplish dusk,
someone's white dress while she walked in a haze,
her heels' soft whispers from plain clogs of wood,
marking a time that haunts his thoughts or dreams.
He still recalls a sky of silent clouds,
the river lying hidden by dark mists,
those dawns with yet no sunshine on the streets,
the chill that breathed sheer rapture through his soul.
He still holds them,
dead butterflies from pages of old tomes
and, pressed inside a boy's notebook, love flowers
for casual trysts kept after each school day
or for some girl he timidly pursued.
As fall and his own muse come back, the fool
still hugs a poet's dream of beauty for the world,
strewing the sidewalk with his lonesome steps
and wandering like some twilit cloud astray.

He wants to ask
how many shifts a human life must take.
The train moves on and lingers at no stop,
and yet those flowers or butterflies still stir
the memory of a golden fall in his old town.
Today, he stands beneath this gorgeous maplewood
and from years past sees the blood of flame trees.

Translated by Huynh Sanh Thong


Snow as if never had yet
A few days closed up the door
Returns the kindness of visitors
Winter looks like a thread
The stretch eternally over and over
Sitting sadly to catch a fire
To burn the empty circles.

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