Nguyen Hoang Quyen
“Someone once pointed at my face and said: The bastard without a family. Without a god. Without a nation. I open a smile and start to sing.”
—“Một giấc mơ” (“A Dream” 1966) by Dương Nghiễm Mậu, translated by Nguyễn-Hoàng Quyên
Nguyễn-Hoàng Quyên (ir)regularly translate-writes with AJAR, a poetry press-journal in and out of Vietnam. She wonders how a body bears/is born across irreconciliable languagings and worldings.
don’t know how many times i lie with my face down on sand my eyes gently ajar looking at a sunrise looking til i notice a mutation from red to black it is no longer a scintillating crimson aura it turns into a flickering black hole, it haunts, the blood in my body begins to accelerate & the finest red blood corpuscles hurry down towards my energy center my cøck warms and hardens my cøck is about to weep my lucky cøck is ecstatic my hands dig into sand my belly touches sand my mouth gapes open for sand & my rump reels
we wanted to sleep, sleep incessantly through infinitely sleep, sleep past lives in damp chave-chasms of perfumed earth, sleep by a green grass zone and see ourselves as herbal beings beside the green grass vault
we have found in the deterioration of flesh and bones a spiritual liberation
and we sleep again, sleep endlessly through hours, increments, sleep ceaselessly while sky floats, sleep as a game with time, sleep longly messily like midday infants ensconced in cots, datelessly in perfumed pregnant air, in the home of living sound waves,
living in our waters, my waters, there is no other way but to be buoyant, several thousand kilometers of coastline, what else to do, i say to chàng, i have not yet known what it’s like to truly be buoyant, chàng and i, have we ever been truly buoyant, a dwarfish ferry ride connect the streets to an island too small to infinitely lose oneself in, streets again soon, worry again then forget, how to possibly forget, but being infinitely buoyant to what ends, laughter from the throat springs up out of nowhere, to simply be buoyant, to relish in the taste of water here and elsewhere, to make peace, to stop resisting, so that no endings occur, so that i know whether water is salt or fresh, or bitter salt fresh, is my body salt or fresh, or ultimately tasteless, i make a slip of the tongue, tasteless, and abruptly staggered and grieving, tasteless, is the most desperate state, condition, fate of water, is closure, is a non-adjective adjective, a bastard adjective, an orphaned adjective, a self-drowning adjective, a dead adjective buoyant in oblivion, i do not cease from astonishment, i am confounded like a fateless adjective, then, does chàng have to select an adjective closer to sea or closer to river, that bitter salt fresh taste is it the fate of river or sea?
Bản tiếng Việt do Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên cắt và tái lắp ráp từ văn bản gốc của Nguyễn Quốc Chánh (“Hội chứng,” “Đụ Vỡ Sọ”), Bùi Giáng (“Sương Tỳ Hải”), Nhã Thuyên (“vị nước”)
 translator’s note on the Vietnamese word chàng /ṯɕaːŋ˨˩/
1. pron. second-person (“you”) or third-person (“he”), used to address a male, literary
2. n. chisel
3. n. flying frog