EM, an epic poem by Lê Vĩnh Tài at Spillwords.com
Frank Mckenna



written by: Lê Vĩnh Tài

translated by: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


the awful feeling of having committed a crime is like smoke…

carried away with it are the ashes of a spent cigarette
it’s a cloud, a fog
the breath of an undefined spirit

you can not stand there and accept who you are as a man
as the world stands there bare and swear in the light of day
the salvation is suffocating
as I and the moon are fading away
into oblivion

and I’m drowning

heading for home…

my feet carry with them
drops of water dripping from my hair
laden lashes staring at the moon

lungs stuffed with the chill of the night
within the bloody footprints are the frozen teardrops
in the middle of winter

I’m dragged along my path
the debacle of my gift
as it ages and deteriorates
my heart continues to beat

I’m walking on water
in the light of a setting sun
people call home

in the moon’s cool shadows…

the sun is a candle flame
burning inside a mirror
a reflection smelling like sweet sixteen

spinning pits of darkness
love, an ocean
deep within each wave

dissolving salt grains
on a wall
addicted to the flame of your kiss

in the moon’s dark shadows
the varying breeze upon touch
the arousal of your skin

The Art of Madness…

the ink smudges on a white background
the brave indentations, the hearts
the racy curves
her hair in waves
like a trickling stream in the inky colour of the flesh
as translucent as the juicy flesh of starfruit
fresh are her wet lips

through my cool breath
her name echoes like the sound of church bells
over the meadows
the scent of our childhood

overwhelmed with wanting
a strange symbol of maddening desire

I am not me
the careful anxious steps
tripping on your Shadow (baby)
and falling

I’m falling

I’m crawling
crossing over
I will not answer to another soul other than her

my head hitting the ground
my eyes searching for my childhood
red hues

my heartbeat grows weaker
the blood begins to pump
slowly through my veins

teary hues
racing after my smile
as it falls apart

Is it okay to cry?

tears of joy
or sadness?

tears offered up to the sky, screaming…

and the hundred-dollar note on
the squeaky bed

hidden behind the tightly shut doors
the insufferable tearful
vices of grown men

“Am I supposed to be sad or happy?”

the universe

I hate the sight of myself in the mirror
I find strangers frightful

my brown eyes
blurred and grainy
imagine if I were to completely disappear
if I were to be
completely erased

life is a joke
and I’m the joker
I’m the clown in an empty theatre
laughing at my shadow

I’m lying here in the dark

now and then
I would close my eyes and listen to the screams
the demons fighting inside me

I am in league with the dark
one hopeful evening

in paradise
where you live
where it is always full of laughter
the way we had laughed together
and spoke of unimaginable beauty

brilliant ruby lips
a flower
budding from an old
shrivelled up tree trunk
its scent is carried away far and wide
by the night wind

fragile petals of stars
a smile in the moonlight
a trunk full of treasures

in a secret room
in my mind one quiet winter evening
she is dancing
her hair prancing
inhales the chill air of her lover

and I could feel
his warm hand on my chest

his hovering shadowy form
searching for me
I could feel his breath
on my neck
I hear him calling
pulling me into a world of depravity
we’re on our knees
bearing the load of a pounding heart

tongues dancing
the load inside my body is an ocean

and the horizon is beyond my field of vision
I’m a bird of a wind
surfing the curvatures of my skin
my flesh

I could discern
through the bottom of the broken bottle
the wine on your lips

the rush through my veins
the resistance and regret

love until it hurts
like hell as my hands
held tightly onto the bottle
your face is never far away
it’s always there
pooled in all crevices of my mind

your smile, your eyes
a storm beyond a stormy night

the uncontrollable drawing sound of our intoxication
a room at the heart of the earth, hot and heated
like hell

the blood on my hands
the sweaty dreams
resisting the eyes popping indignation
the ghosts

inside me is a gun from hell
firing in a dream
cause bleeding in one ear
it could no longer hear

the howls of murdered souls
a tombstone blocks
the bridge of my broken nose

nails hammered into both hands
I was hurt last night in a dream
in a fight the entire night

the quietude
discerning your beating heart
the resounding echoes of the wind

the wind painting your name
and the leaves waving
a reflection in your eyes

we shall forever remain in the dark?

the rustling whispers of evergreen leaves
talks about the sun
the young men and young women
the plots, the desires full of resentment

we will hide beneath a long blanket
king and queen
deep in our love

the sky covered in grey clouds
and I’m the young woman crying
in the rain

the world had forgiven me
but one person
adamantly did not

I had no faith
or holy text as I preached
about redemption

no soul would ever be able to help this sinking
drowning body of mine

beyond the millions of sad faces
stuck in the dark
what they call light

where what left is right
where what right is left
and what’s in the middle is nothing
but a dream

with all those scars in history
itchy and bleeding
they scratch them until they break our nails

trying its best to delete what was in
a distorted mind
marking the graves of all
our lost souls

– I wish you truly did commit such immortal sins, then at least your murder was justified. Pray that you will end up in a better world, with better luck, a lot happier than you were in this despicable world. (Tr D.)

I’m a flick
stretched out along with a flimsy bit of elastic
the moment the planet was quiet

my lonely soul
flowers on graves
whispers of a black shroud

me watching the sun setting
sacrificing itself for a dream

my thoughts castaway with the cold
sea water

in a sinking sky
the night a woman in a white dress
no shoes, her hair bubbling in the hot water
and her hot skin is as brilliant as the moonlight

It’s not blood right?

Why did she choose such a path?
as the woman in a black dress
like a blanket of autumn leaves
rose to the surface of the water?

her skin glowing
her smile brilliant
her eyes radiant
as her golden hair drapes over her shoulders
drips seawater

I’m awake
this time, I’m awake, it’s true

– Am I happy or sad?

her cool breath in my ear as she whispered
”I need you to be the conqueror of my soul”

the sheath of her hymen ripping at her flesh
like the black lingerie
in the clutches of her left hand
held firmly against her chest

the shame of Eden
dazzling in the sunlight
the genius of fingers
the perfect curves

we lay there silently staring
at the plain white ceiling
the drape of her hair, long and black
the terror of a dream in white

we’re rolling around in a garden of red flowers
“Do you love the way I cry?” she asks

she squeezes the life out of me
all our strength pooling on the tips of her tiny fingers

the pain comes
shooting from my heart through all that is red
the tears pool in her eyes
the way Nguyện Viện the author might say
they are dripping with seamen

her cool silence
looks straight into my heart
as I fade slowly into the shadows

Why now?
after all the waiting, only because she was simply mad
– Do you love how it hurts you?

you bleed when I bleed
please smile while I’m looking into your heart
be vulnerable to my the coolness of my whisper in your ear
since we are learning how to love again

– Am I too ambitious?
flames of yesteryear

loaded is the pistol
in her hand

the tremor of fingers
over the hole in my chest

“breathe” she said
don’t hold your breath

the nature of breathlessness
a room as sound
as you baby

– then when it came to his turn, she said
you must understand why you had to wait so long

why are the storms
so angry and the ocean littered
with ripped sails

by the time it’s his turn, each handed moment has meaning
he cherishes each wound
and we are the scars

when love finds you
you’re a photo album
full of memories

her touch awakens your flame
a smile is the boulder
she uses to create a masterpiece
outlasting the ages

love found you baby, she will never stop dancing
sweetly to the beating of the ocean waves
coming home

the moments between dreams,
the tails of stars, painting the sky with fire
in the brightest of colours

when love finds you baby, it weaves a tale of folklore
exhilarating whispers
the sound flapping of sails

in this game baby, you are on fire
you raise me up to height of inebriation
you are an addiction

and every star is competing for its chance
to light up the sky, to shine its light
upon us all

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  • EM - April 15, 2024