To Return to the Urges Unconscious of Their Beginning
I want to return to the first urges, those urges that seemed so unconscious of their beginnings.
Urges that were eager to admire the first pen in my life my mother brought me when I was a child.
Urges that were the radiant new shirt of days in my poor village.
I want to return to those urges so unconscious of their beginnings.
Urges that were my astonishment at seeing the first feeding breast and the 1001st nostalgia that seemed almost too much to bear.
Urges that were the first na?ve and truthful song a soldier of the 308th division taught me in his loving arm.
Urges that were my first sensations at seeing my poems in print. How happy and anxious my heart that moment seeing the small creatures of handwriting incarnated into the dragons of type.
Urges that were the first insult about my poems that I heard from the mouth of one who didn't know me.
I want to return to those first urges so unconscious of their origins.
So I need no longer know which urges are introverted and which are extroverted.
So I need no longer know which poetry must be connected to policy and which must be away from policy.
So I need no longer know which poetry must be in established patterns as in "North of the River," or must be in free fashion as in "Cochinchina."
And last, so I need no longer know, can poems be sold, and can they be sold at a profit.
In the Labor Market at Giang Vo
I don't dare ask who you are,
selling your strength out on the street.
The rich need someone to put up their new houses.
They don't care who you are, where you come from.
I care. You are the dark alluvial soil
torn from the river bend, the jagged rock
wrenched from the mountain.
One difference though-hunger gnaws at your guts.
These days every village must be a great city,
stacks of foods shimmer and dance in the street.
Not lack of work, but this new life gives birth to new lines of workers.
A new sky must mean new kinds of clouds.
Dusk crawls up the road. The crowd thins out.
No one left but you. I recognize you now,
the look of quiet tenacity, the scar,
the last broken shard of war