poem

One big old illusion

.

And once again after years I traverse your roads,

And once again I find you, the same, unchanged !

Your deadness, immobility, and senselessness.

Your fallow lands

and thatchless cottages and rotten walls.

Your squalor, foul air, boredom, the same dirt as earlier,

and the same servile gaze, now impudent, now dejected.

And although you were freed from slavery,

you do not know what to do with freedom – you, the people…

And everything

Is as it once was.

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-Turgenev, about Russia, in “The Dream”

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“The problems, dilemmas, that faces this (Russian) society, and above all the intelligentsia, the democrats.

For instance, society and the state. How can one involve society in governing the country ? How is the state to be democratized ?

The Russian land, its characteristics and resources, favor the power of the state. The soil of native Russia is poor, the climate cold, the day, for the greater part of the year, short. Under such natural conditions, the earth yields meager harvests, there is recurrent famine, the peasant is poor, too poor to become independent. The master or the state has always had enormous power over him. The peasant, drowning in debts, has nothing to eat, is a slave.

Simultaneously, it is a land rich in natural resources – in oil, in gas, in iron ore. But these are natural resources whose exploitation and profits are easy to monopolize, particularly by a strong bureaucratic – authoritarian state. In this way both the soil’s poverty and its riches undermine the people and bolster the regime. It is one of the great paradoxes of Russia. – Imperium, Rapuscinski

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Once again,  it comes to the idea that society’s structure is often geographical. At first it seems strange that men have little influence over their own collective wills. But then it makes a lot of senses, cause a collective mind is not a mind after all. So what does that say about my country, where one can not live for an hour straight without meeting a whore or an imbecile ? Or, mostly, a thug, a lowlife ? People try to rob you the moment you set foot outside your door, in every ways they can think of, in every places possible. Stealing and selling everything one can touch. Everyone has gutter mentality. All the signs point to one conclusion : this country is going to implode, despite all the facades it puts on, despite all the fake riches, expensive beauties and lit cities. Behind its veil, this country eats its own flesh, and it has done that for so many years. But after writing these sentences, I realize that I wrote the thing everyone knows… Oh well, so be it. A paradox of Vietnam.

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The Bacteria, the Plate, and the Spaceships – Epilogue

4. Epilogue

You win a while, and then it’s done,
your little winning streak.
And summoned now,  to deal
with your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it’s real…

– Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

Tôi đã nghĩ rằng nên thêm một lời kết cho seri Ants and ships này. Sau cùng thì tôi viết ra những thứ đó không phải để thuyết phục ai, không gửi gắm điều gì cả. Đôi khi tôi cũng thử tự huyễn hoặc rằng tôi có một chút ham muốn, nhưng không phải. Nói, theo nghĩa nguyên thủy của từ này, với người khác, bất cứ người nào, là một việc mệt mỏi và hầu như luôn vô ích. Đó là nguyên nhân chúng không có mục chú thích – references, mặc dù chúng nói về khá nhiều thứ mà chỉ riêng việc biết một thứ thôi cũng cần phải đọc khá nhiều. Vậy nên tôi bỏ mục đó đi, và thấy chuyện đó phù hợp với thời đại này : người muốn biết sẽ google, người không muốn biết thì có hét vào tai họ cũng vô ích. Tôi viết chỉ để giải tỏa một lượng thông tin lớn trong người. Thật ra, có lẽ tôi nên phân tích chi tiết hơn về mọi thứ, bởi tuy đọc nhiều và hiểu khá cặn kẽ về chúng ở thời điểm này, với trí nhớ tồi tệ của mình, thời gian sẽ làm tôi dần quên đi hết. Thật ra, có lẽ tôi chả nên viết cái gì cả và để cái blog này tiếp tục rêu phong, như vài năm qua. Tôi đã được trải nghiệm những ảo tưởng cuối cùng của mình rồi. Tôi nghĩ mình đã hiểu con người hơn nhiều so với trước đây. Chỉ là quá khó để im lặng trước những sự kiện như thế này. Và nhận thức thấu suốt mà không đi kèm với khả năng thay đổi thực tại, là một điều còn khó chịu hơn nhiều.

2016 không chỉ là một năm của những sự kiện chính trị, nó còn là năm cuối cùng của một số danh nhân, trong đó có Leonard Cohen. Tôi thấy nếu phải trao giải Nobel văn học cho một ca sĩ, thì Cohen xứng đáng hơn Bob Dylan. Ca từ của ông đẹp, sâu sắc và độc đáo, ông là người duy nhất gắn kết thiên chúa giáo và sự gợi tình, mà lại tạo ra được sự hòa quyện không ngờ. Ông mất chỉ một thời gian ngắn sau Marianne, nàng thơ của ông. Âu cũng là một cái kết đẹp.

Luôn luôn là cảm giác có bao điều muốn nói, đồng thời không muốn nói thêm bất cứ điều gì. Xin mượn lời của Robert Frost : Khu rừng đen tối, ẩm ướt và lạnh lẽo. Tôi không muốn vào đó chút nào. Tôi muốn ở lại đây. Nhưng còn có một điều tôi muốn làm. Và nhiều dặm đường phải đi. Rất nhiều dặm đường phải đi.

Monologue with the night [14]

 

Không đề.

 

Những cơn gió mùa đông

Hay vạt áo dạ của người lữ khách

Làm cánh bông hồng sắp tàn kia

Tựa xuống đất, vững vàng.

 

Đôi giầy đen bước vội không nhìn

Hay chính những giọt mưa lao nhanh

Làm vũng nước mưa

Vỡ vụn thành muôn mảnh.

 

Một bộ xếp hình ẩm mốc

Chiếc bình ghép từ nhiều mảnh vỡ

Những kẻ ngốc vụng về

Nghĩ bàn tay mình bịt được thời gian

 

Người ta có thể yêu thiên thần được bao lâu ?

Mười tám năm, hay cả một cuộc đời ?

Hay rốt cuộc chỉ vài năm ngắn ngủi ?

 

Sự trong trắng sẽ tan đi

tình yêu có còn ở lại

 

Khi ấy tự do sẽ đến,

mỉm cười với tôi,

Rồi dang đôi cánh, đôi cánh dạn dày,

không hối tiếc, chẳng lo âu,

Bay đi trong đêm ấm.

Being a grown man

 

The asses I never got

A yellow bulb turns on

Bad people’s happiness

Is like a beacon of heat

Just remember

What did I do ?

 

Bare hand moving out

And the winds kiss it

Rotten memories stirred

In this dusty steppe

Try to imagine

What did I do ?

 

Show you love  in a handful of dirt

Like a bird seeing its first light

Show you love  in a handful of dirt

Like an eagle emptying her mind

 

 

Ten AM with morning light

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Bà nội trợ trẻ – William Carlos Williams

Mười giờ sáng, người vợ trẻ đi qua lại trong
tấm áo ngày thường sau bức vách gỗ
trong ngôi nhà của đấng phu quân
Tôi lướt qua trong chiếc xe hơi, nghe lòng cô đơn lạ.

Rồi nàng ta ra phố
gọi một anh bán kem, một người bán cá
lại đứng chờ
Rụt rè, không áo nịt, tay cố giữ những lọn tóc rối bay
và tôi ngầm so nàng
với một chiếc lá rơi.

Xe tôi lao đi không tiếng động làm vỡ
một chiếc lá khô khi tôi cúi chào
nàng và lướt đi
với một nụ cười.

Nguyên tác

The young housewife

At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband’s house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

 

I mean the blue one

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for Mokoto, but also for any invididual, I think

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Where does the ocean go ?poem by Yoko Kanno.

all day the city’s selling something
always, the busy people spinning ’round
busier
dizzier
’til they go back home to somewhere

and taxies stop to say “hello”
“want a ride? I’ll take you there”
“to anywhere, just tell my driver”

the sun is casting shadows
an afternoon is fading
I ask, but no one knows
the answer to the question
my life is like an island
where does this ocean go?

shyly, a wino sips his wine
slowly, cause to him that is all that matters
he sees a cat he knows so well
now sleeping on a bench together

a woman waiting by herself, selling flowers
“please buy some, so I can help my daughter, will you?”

the man with spider eyebrows
is standing on a corner
“who wants to see a show?”
his head looks like a melon
he turns into an alley
then stops to blow his nose
sky is filled with neon
the buildings stand electric
and almost seem to glow

want answers to the question
my life is like an island
where does the ocean go?

Dream of Albion

You asked me of guidance, so
Think twice, men, before saying :
I’ve known solitude
Taste your words well, praying

Cause you are about departing, to a faraway land
The sea isn’t wide, the waves aren’t violent
You could possibly see from here
Stand there, like a monstrous monument
The white Dover, and when you set foot there
These broken ships will be left behind
There’s only that cliff for you to climb
A grassy dream, and green forests you’d find
You would think it’s easy, wouldn’t you ?
Don’t say, but here is bad news :

Albion is a no man land
There are wolves in the forests,
pigs in the farms,
and witches in trees
But, be sure, Albion is a no man land
The wolves growl : we kill and be killed
The pigs squeal : we eat and be eaten
The witches scream : we suffer and make the world full of suffering
They look upon you : what are YOU doing here ?
We all have JOBs, what is your JOB ?
You would stand there, in Albion, a no man land,
Don’t know how many years were passed
The winds had devoured your voices
The rains had flooded your tears
The cold had frozen your heart
And you’d hardly remember a man
Whose name soon be forgotten
He said, some time in the past : “I’ve known solitude”
You’d laugh at these words
No, he didn’t,
not until they asked in open :
“How could you possibly live alone ?”
As if I’m living, you’d say
“How could you possibly survive, if you’re on your own ?”
Then you’d realize, for the first time
Albion is a no man land
Where men are of no use, less than a pig
You are the worthless kind
In a worthless world
You’d go to Dover, to undo your climb, seemingly,
But inside, you’d known it well :
like love, knowledge, and dignity
your fall doesn’t sell.

The flowers of Nihilism

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from Street spirit
I discover this :

Aubade
by Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Dilemma – what does a newborn need ?

.
The truth – or shelter ?
What should I do ? But be myself, indeed ?

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
Though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

From winter and from a river

And it was at that age…Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

from Poetry – poem by Pablo Neruda

“you win a while, then it is done
your little winning streak
and summon now, to deal
with your invincible defeat”

from A thousand kisses deep – poem by Leonard Cohen

that’s where poetry found me, I guess.