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Best Poems Written by Hai Phan

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Details | Hai Phan Poem

Last lines of poetry

Not many words left for you
my lips become icy
days and nights freeze on my skin, 
on my head, on my shoulders, 
on my back, and on every strand of white hair tonight... 

New year comes through the window, 
blows chilly wind into my bones, 
quivers my every cell, 
and shakes my legs...

My hands softly try to grasp every day, 
catching the still-far-away joy... 
You should watch 
carefully to see that
the fog tonight becomes my breaths, 
that the midnight moon 
is your face among the stars fading away... 

Not many words left for you
I sit under the moonlight, 
write down until no ink remains, 
and see my last words 
soak in fog and smoke...   

my last lines of poetry in my life 
now become gifts for you
and tomorrow I will live a homeless life, 
wandering under the light of moon and stars

no more words in my life
when the sky becomes a piece of paper,
when the flying stars become ink lines 
and when you become the moon...

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022



Details | Hai Phan Poem

Once upon a time

How could I write about a time 
when I saw the wind 
and knew that your hair was so short,
when I saw the dry sunshine 
and knew that your cheek color was so pale,
and when I invited you to a festival 
and knew that you learned nothing about make-up.

How could I write about a time
when you brought waves of laughters into my life 
and let them echo deeply in my memory,
when you walked on wooden clogs in our naive 
years and sounded the music in my sleep,
and when we first time looked at each 
other and knew the time has stopped.

Once upon a time. There was a time. A time that has 
made me shake while recalling the color of your kissing lips.

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Words flying away

On the paper at midnight
my writing hand feels tired
lines of poetry get blurred with fog

and my soul rolls
alongside the ink lines
unstoppable

farewell now
my writing hand gets so tired

saying farewell to you
the poet
with lines of words 
flowing from the memory

farewell to you, 
who walks ahead of me 
on the lonely path of poetry
farewell to my dear poet

and also to my childhood days. 
One life, one time, 
sitting and gazing at the paper, 
writing down the soul of a century, 
farewell now to the tired writing hand 
and to the closed eyes 
and to the souls of poetry. 

Farewell now
to the souls of poetry 
when you lie down 
and when words in line
softly fly away and 
fly high away – 
scattering my souls away.

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Oh Please, Not to Fade So Fast into the Afternoon

I.

Oh please, not to fade so fast into the afternoon
The one that is scattering in a goldenly swooning loneliness
The one that is shattering at a purply time of faintness
And the one whose wind is playing with so many violins

Because the wind will flow away a sky of ending summer
Blending mistily the fragrances of rice straw and areca nut
And you will see a piece of very strange sky
Falling its colorless sunlight onto your garden

Because colors had a fine crop of a reunion the previous day
And are gone with traces of flying birds the later day
Words turn into rocks and miss the flapping waves
And I transform into a seat where you sit on

Because the seat where you sit is suitable for a dream
That won’t gray out the leaves voicing the greetings
That won’t see the end of folk songs whispering
And that won’t cease the surprise of whys and whys


II.

Oh please, not to fade so fast into the afternoon
The one that is scattering on greenly swooning soul of moss
The one that is falling on whitely faint shadows of tombs
And the one that is hammering the nails on a scream

Because that scream echoes so deeply and so sharply
Becoming deep tone heartbeats humming in my chest
And you will hear over a very slim trail
A song of leaf-made trumpet from far far away

Because the ancient spring coyly ran dry under the previous sky
And the old stream is squeezing its skin under the later sky
Water pales its face, cloud thickens grayly
And I become a pale homeless guy

The one homeless guy who’s addicted to being a ghost
Who gazes endlessly at the slanting afternoon shadows
Who looks left and right, high and low at soaring dreams
And who suddenly sees the time is perfumed with flowers of blood . . .


III.

Oh please, not to fade so fast into the afternoon
The one that is scattering with so much faintness of roses
The one that is flying with sunny laurel wreaths
And the one that is warming the sounding rocks on Hon Kem

Because the rocks sing from that mountaintop
Softly echo alongside the wings of the birds
Become the round notes for you to pick up
And blend the beads of youth into your heart

For now, I search and see the previous day’s seat is left vacant
And the later day’s voice is also bygone
Yeah it is true that we are dying
We are gnawing and tiredly chewing the silly madness

Oh silly madness, just watch the heaven and earth
where the cycles of births revolve around the faintness
Where I transform into a small mosquito
And hover around you and smile naively...
April 2011

Translated into English by Phan Tan Hai
Original poem titled "Xin d?ng v?i tan vào bu?i chi?u" - written in Vietnamese by Nguyen Luong Vy.

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Words of sorrow

Translating some sentences a day 
I see words of sorrow 
roll on paper, 
feel my mustache 
and hair hesitate to grow, 
and fail to grasp months and days. 

Translating some sentences a day
I see the ink 
print deeply the sorrow, 
scattering on paper 
my millions of lifetimes in exile.  

Translating some sentences a day, 
I see my hand
hold the pen erratically, 
feel the pain arise 
from liver and guts, 
and let words of sorrow freeze my fingers.

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022



Details | Hai Phan Poem

Come along with me

Just come along with me to the town 
where long time ago I bicycled, 
walked and ran about whenever
I wanted to smell the fragrance of Saigon

where I raised my hand  to salute the 
spirits while passing by the Lang Ong 
Shrine and bathing my body among the 
incense smoke drifting out over the 

streets and worming my way away from 
the crowds of fortune-tellers talking 
endlessly about their understanding of 
universe and keeping silent on their own. 

just come along with me to the town
where I said hello to people in the 
Ba Chieu Market where they yelled and 
boasted about their bargain prices

and always be prepared to load
all their stuff on their shoulders and
heads and run away from the police
and jump over all the walls on their ways

while scattering behind with sandals,
sunglasses and hats... while throwing 
into the sky their yells and screams – and you 
see now, those sounds still vibrate in my heart.

just come along with me to the town 
where I have left many parts of me 
onto  the dirt trails of Dong Ong Co
leading to my dharma uncle’s temple 

and please gently step into the village,
please softly move and try not to break the 
standstill air here, where you will see 
my footprints still visible around the altar

where decades ago I asked the old 
monk Thuong Chieu about the way of
Zen, and then he smiled – and now
I would surprise him when he first time sees

a lady walking beside me. My dear, please 
walk gently here in my unchanged 
village, where you will see the cows still
standing in the field with their heads staring

at the far-away sky, the birds still reaching 
high into the sky, the monk still sitting there
with his endless smile, and there the answer 
he gave me now still remaining in an original 

state: he threw a piece of tile against the wall 
and asked if I heard the sound and then said 
that that was the way of Zen – you now see 
that that piece of tile still remains floating in the air

just come along with me to the town
where everything stays unmoveable,
and unbreakable endlessly, where the 
monk and me live like the unmovable statues.

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Short breaths, long breaths

I sit breathing, feel the breaths in and out,
know the breaths long and short, wish the peace 
for heaven and earth, wish for soothing seasons 
of rain and wind, and wish for all to have 
enough food and clothing. 

I sit breathing, feel the breaths short and long, know the breaths in
and out, spread the breaths through my sitting body, and see me sit 
with me sitting. I sit breathing, feel the breaths long
and short, see some breaths out short and some in long, 
wish the peace for heaven and earth, wish for 
soothing seasons of rain and wind, and wish for moms and sisters
and brothers to have food and clothing. With tears in eyes and 
heavy karma on shoulders, I sit breathing... 

I stand breathing, and breathing I stand. Feeling the breaths short,
I know the breaths short; feeling the breaths long, I know
the breaths long. I see that all the springs, 
summers, autumns, and winters are hiding in

my breaths. This breath is long, carrying a warm
spring; the next is short, rushing the summer 
sun. My body moves along with short
and long breaths, carries away the sorrow of 
autumn’s falling leaves, and soaks in the chilly breeze
of winter amid which we shiver and miss each other.
Breathing I stand and feel the breaths in and out, and wish the
peace every day for the world, and wish for all children 
to have their happy schooldays... 

Breathing in me is the vastness of heaven and earth, where
the breaths flow in and out and short and long, where the clouds 
fly in my lungs, where the wind blows past my lips,
where the forest clatters in front of my eyebrows, where
the sea whistles along with the short and long breaths,
and where the ocean rages through my rushing breaths. 

I sit, I stand, I walk, I lie, I run and I feel breathing in me
the surprise of heaven and earth, where the trees 
and the hills stand for me and for mom and for you, where 
the Tibetan forest whistles for thousands of years, and where
the wind still echoes the songs that Lao Tzu tapped on the ox horn.

Breathing I feel the breaths short and long, and wish the
peace for heaven and earth, and wish for all children 
to have enough food every day... 

Breathing I feel the long and short breaths; breathing I feel 
the short and long breaths -- seeing the red breaths,
seeing the blue breaths, seeing the yellow breaths,
seeing the black breaths, and wishing for the world’s suffering
to soak into the breaths. Thus I sit and endure the world’s suffering;
thus I stand and endure for that you and mom and sisters and brothers
would be peaceful.

not a self I see;
I see not a self.
only breathing,
only the breaths...

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Seeing you

Let me catch sight of you in this 
life and in others, where your face 
hovers in the spring, summer, 
autumn and winter, when your black 
eyes twinkle along the curved 
words I have found again in this life.

Let me catch sight of you in the 
morning, noon, afternoon and evening, 
for I shall hear your laughter along 
the sidewalks and around the morning 
markets, feel your hair’s fragrance 
once, and never stray away from you again.   

Let me see you appear calmly and 
brightly in every thought, in every short 
breath, in every long breath, and in every 
pulse of my heart – intrinsically, calmly and brightly.  

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Living in Reverse

I live in a town where all things go in
reverse. The bushes grow reversely,
shrink smaller back into seeds, and roll back
into the past-life seeds. The river flows

reversely, very swiftly. My friends,
my nephews and nieces, my siblings, and
my parents walk reversely, and
steadily become smaller, younger.

Helplessly, I stand, watch, and cannot grasp
things back. The brains think reversely
into the prehistory; the handwritten
pages decrease, turning reversely for

never being lost. The ruined house of the
neighbor girl is built reversely, becoming
back the house of her young days. The
voices, familiar and unknown, talk

reversely into the afternoons and
noons and nights, calling up the wronged ghost
of a priest whose enlightened shout wakes up
the legendary copperhead, which slithers

and crushes a corner of the forest. A
tornado blows reversely, peels away
the layer of sedimentary rocks,
and shows thousands of ancient cities, where

millions of bricks become new again to
build countless clusters of towers, and where
the waving hands, smiling lips, colorful
clothes, villages, crow’s cries, and flocks of birds

fly reversely into the sunshine arc.
I solely stand, lonely.

Translated into English by Phan Tan Hai
Original poem titled "Song Lui" -- written in Vietnamese by Inrasara.

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022

Details | Hai Phan Poem

Blurring the ink lines

you, this young lady
please keep really silent
on every step you walk
gently, please
just listen to every corner of the temple
where the wind from the ancient meditation forest whispers 
and recites the way of Buddha sitting soundlessly 

you, this young lady
please keep really silent
while reading the ancient sutras
just see on paper my words that have turned yellow
just hear the breezes still sing within the ink lines 
once, in a long past age I wrote down
words of Buddha
thousands of years ago

you, this young lady
please keep really silent
really silent

please don’t laugh
who would remember
a laugh from a young lady that broke my heart
and blurred the ink lines from my poems.

By Phan Tan Hai

Copyright © Hai Phan | Year Posted 2022