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Volume 9

Tall Tales - January 2012


Written by
Luu Trong Tuan

I am currently an EFL teacher at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I received my Masters degree from Victoria University, Australia in 2004. My poem entitled “Memory of Sakura” has been published in the Australian literary magazine “Going Down Swinging”.


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A road
And an American soldier
Both converged
Into the cold –
Vietnam war.

That American soldier was I
Who, along that road, would hike
Along which
A little farm girl would drift.

Our eyes converged into serenity
In the midst of the Brownian motions of hostilities.

My fingers met her wrist
Felt her skin
And her pulse
Through the silk of the sleeve of a ba ba shirt(1)
We were being given a glance
I was sued for harassing a naïve girl
And Vietnam war for harassing a naïve land.

We American soldiers,
In our confession to God,
Were guilty
The dust storm of Agent Orange used to chase our helicopters
And have ever chased our thoughts
Burned rice fields and bodies have lingered in our snapshots.

We came
To harrass your green rice fields
By imposing buildings on their deaths.
To harass your civilization
By driving you to touch the literary semen of Anthony Hecht
And to be a slave to western knowledge.

I came
Not to harass you –
A little country girl who taught me how to handle chopsticks
How to say “chao”(2)
And how to love the war invalids.

I held your arm
To sense
The tranquillity in your capillaries
Under the epidermis
Of your ba ba shirt
And feel,
Through the noise of shells,
The peace in your villages
Behind the robust bamboos and myths.

(1)Áo bà ba (or ba ba shirt), a traditional Vietnamese costume, is a long-sleeved, button-down silk shirt. It is most associated with southern Vietnam, especially in rural areas.

(2) “Chao” is a common Vietnamese formal greeting. 



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