Are You Still the Same?

for my “LL” group

Taking a stroll down memory lane
Are your voices still as sweet
Are your hairs still as lustrous
Are the waves still as soothing
Are you still the same?

Are you still the same?
The fun we had playing game
during Tết dinner party;
The shocked reaction you took when I
your sand castle at Vung Tau beach;
The day you asked me when
I would come back and
all you heard was
but a moment of silence
while the fragrance of plumeria
was overwhelming in the air

Are you still the same?
Despite an ocean and over a decade away
Despite the dreams lost or materialized
Will you remain the same for me
when I come back home?


I was inspired to write this poem after listening non-stop to this song:

Em Van Nhu Ngay Xua

The Autumn is Gone / Không Còn Mùa Thu (a translated song)

Somehow I have been in the mood to listen to many songs about the Fall in Hanoi on and off since Sept, as seen here and here.
Below is my translation/adaptation of another one.


The Autumn is Gone

The Autumn is gone and the moon
does not come landing
on the balcony any more
The lullaby is over and there is
no more dreaming about your soft lips
You were the maiden Spring whose love
filled up the long and lonely nights

I was the Autumn
for you to dream about
I was the lullaby
hovering over you
You’re gone and don’t care
about the yellow Autumn
nor the coming Spring any more

When we were in love
you came and looked
at the twinkling stars with me
When we were in love
we spent the stormy nights
together. Remember
the promise under the moon;
the love not yet uttered
from my clumsy lips?

The paths we passed have disappeared
beyond the horizon. Who knows
which paths we will tread on
in the future.The evening
is fading wearily. I stop
dreaming and go versify
my pile of sorrows.



Random Thoughts 10.08.2015

Bob threw out the question
during our trip to Denver
what I miss most about Vietnam
and I responded right away
Vietnamese language

I love my mother tongue
I have loved it since
the day I was born
My mother tongue
four thousand years of joy and sorrow
crying and laughing thru the ups and downs
My mother tongue
the language of my soul
the language of my heart
the language of my mind

I can never stop loving a language
that sounds like singing when it is spoken;
its intonation and music
make it intrinsically poetic;
and remember to stress the right accent
when conversing
otherwise yêu (love) will turn to yếu (feeble)

I hope my words don’t buffet you but rather
serve as a buffet of ideas

*words in italics are lyrics from the song “Tình ca tiếng nước tôi” (“A love song of my mother tongue”) composed by the talented late musician Phạm Duy.

Random Thoughts 09.30.2015

It was drizzling today
and I’m told a strong El Nino
is predicted to hit California
late this Fall and into early Winter.
The many melodies about the Fall in Hanoi
still linger in my mind

Are you the Autumn in Hanoi
I have been looking for
deep into my grey years?
Are you the Autumn in Hanoi
I’ll be back to a thousand years later
hanging on to your shadow?

The question suddenly arises
Can one go back in time
to witness the birth of oneself?
Can one go back in time
to write a birth celebration poem
for oneself?

Goodbye September,
my birthday month.

*words in italics are lyrics from the song “Có phải em mùa thu Hà Nội”

Missing the Autumn in Hanoi*

There’s a chill in the air
and it is a cloudy day
Oh how I’m overwhelmed
by nostalgic memories
of the old old days

There’s no Fall in Saigon
where I grew up
Yet I miss Hanoi in the Autumn
The melody keeps
recurring in my mind

Hanoi in the Fall
Strolling among people
I’m wondering if
I’m missing someone
The Autumn sky in Hanoi
will respond to me someday
The roads will have
the answer for me someday

Hanoi in the Autumn
The Autumn in Hanoi
How I miss someone
thus missing everyone

* the title of a popular Vietnamese pop song
The words in italics are lyrics from the song.