Lê Vĩnh Tài | SAIGON IN LOCKDOWN (34/56)

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


like a silkworm in its cocoon

you’re wrapped up in the worries

you’re relentless

you’re helpless


without the vaccines we have still sadness


the small consolation

as you ascend like angels

with not a scar

except the salty saline would burn your eyes


it rained

then came the deaths

the artist Lê Thánh Thư passed away

his daughter message that it was sudden and quick


Nguyễn Viện cried 

Trần Tiến Dũng cried

Đỗ Trung Quân cried

Thận Nhiên all the way in Vung Tau also cried

Fat Nhân in Saigon also cried


powerless we tore off the pages of the calendar

good people never disappear

they farewell us 

the way the Sun temporarily disappear in the rain



we stare into our bowls of instant noodles

we talk and we talk

forgetting high in the sky

an artist had just away fly


with not enough time to remove his mask and breathe


(October 2021)


Lê Vĩnh Tài, an acclaimed Vietnamese poet, born 1966 in Buon Ma Thuot, Daklak, Vietnam. The retired doctor is still a resident of the Western Highlands, an acclaimed businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

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