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from the November 2018 issue

Somewhere Better Than This Place Nowhere Better Than This Place

These translated, cut-up and reassembled Vietnamese texts are by Nguyễn-Hoàng Quyên, originals by Nguyễn Quốc Chánh (“Syndrome,” “Fucking Skulls Open”), Bùi Giáng (“Sương Tỳ Hải”), and Nhã Thuyên (“taste of waters”).

birds one by one penetrates a gap, disappearing wings disappearing songs, beaks remain, cut open one another’s eyes, napes, death lies in wait on a bowed branch, a forest of guns bulges out of soil sockets, weapons shielded under fatbergs, bullets lie deep in the brains              

don’t know how many times i lie with my face down on sand my eyes gently ajar looking at a sunrise looking til i notice a mutation from red to black it is no longer a scintillating crimson aura it turns into a flickering black hole, it haunts, the blood in my body begins to accelerate & the finest red blood corpuscles hurry down towards my energy center my cøck warms and hardens my cøck is about to weep my lucky cøck is ecstatic my hands dig into sand my belly touches sand my mouth gapes open for sand & my rump reels

we wanted to sleep, sleep incessantly through infinitely sleep, sleep past lives in damp chave-chasms of perfumed earth, sleep by a green grass zone and see ourselves as herbal beings beside the green grass vault                      

we have found in the deterioration of flesh and bones a spiritual liberation  

and we sleep again, sleep endlessly through hours, increments, sleep ceaselessly while sky floats, sleep as a game with time, sleep longly messily like midday infants ensconced in cots, datelessly in perfumed pregnant air, in the home of living sound waves,

living in our waters, my waters, there is no other way but to be buoyant, several thousand kilometers of coastline, what else to do, i say to chàng,1 i have not yet known what it’s like to truly be buoyant, chàng and i, have we ever been truly buoyant, a dwarfish ferry ride connect the streets to an island too small to infinitely lose oneself in, streets again soon, worry again then forget, how to possibly forget, but being infinitely buoyant to what ends, laughter from the throat springs up out of nowhere, to simply be buoyant, to relish in the taste of water here and elsewhere, to make peace, to stop resisting, so that no endings occur, so that i know whether water is salt or fresh, or bitter salt fresh, is my body salt or fresh, or ultimately tasteless, i make a slip of the tongue, tasteless, and abruptly staggered and grieving, tasteless, is the most desperate state, condition, fate of water, is closure, is a non-adjective adjective, a bastard adjective, an orphaned adjective, a self-drowning adjective, a dead adjective buoyant in oblivion, i do not cease from astonishment, i am confounded like a fateless adjective, then, does chàng have to select an adjective closer to sea or closer to river, that bitter salt fresh taste is it the fate of river or sea?


1. translator’s note on the Vietnamese word chàng /ṯɕaːŋ˨˩/

              1. pron. second-person (“you”) or third-person (“he”), used to address a male, literary

              2. n. chisel

              3. n. flying frog]

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