Nguyen Quang Thieu: Chapter 14 (from Slaughterhouse)

Like a newborn baby, without diapers, he runs through the field.

He runs like early summer wind, reverberating in a free and gorgeous dawn.
His hair flies back, the flag of dawn.
His arms flap, clanging the sky.
His legs, wild horse’s legs, gallop across the meadow.
His teeth, two of the most beautiful strings of pearls in the world.
His eyes, two stars that brighten even the day.
His flesh, rich alluvial soil in the fields along great rivers.

He runs, his heart beats like a huge drum.
He runs, his breath heats the hills.
He runs, his genitals shake like a horse’s head.
He runs, the light turns his hips like a ship turns waves.
He is not a madman. He – who is thirsty for freedom,
He is bare and naked against a frivolous, false and hidden world.

He is here, two lungs bulging and wide, two sails in the storm.
He is here, the body radiates blazing heat, a lava stream.
He is here, and with a right to be born, he raises his voice.
He is here, and has a right to live, and a right to die.
He is here, the enemy of the frivolous.
He is here, the death-row inmate of darkness.
He is here, the hostage of dreams.

He is running now; he is flying up.
He doesn’t leave the world, but he leaves the crowd.
He found his country. He found his sky.
He found freedom in all of the prisons of power, in all limits of darkness,
Freedom, which God grants to his fellows everywhere.
Like He created water for the fish,
Created the sky for the birds,
Created words for the lips,
Created love for woman and man.

One free blade of grass makes the great meadow.
One free tree makes the forest.
One free fish makes the sea.
One free bird makes the sky.
One free man makes the universe.

His body now a priceless item of freedom
On the endless land, under the immense sky, only him,
Among grass, trees, water, air, among light,
They are all of him, and he is of everything.

Freedom makes him swim underwater like fish.
Freedom makes him fly in the sky like a bird.
Freedom makes him brighten the fire but not be burned.
Freedom makes him talk with mankind although he dies.
Freedom is miracles,

And now between the endless land and the immense sky
He sings and dances,
His arms swing in circles of light,
Brilliant and luminous rainbows.
He walks as if above the ground, the wind crosses the fields.
He shows his teeth, two of the most beautiful strings of pearls in the world.
His teeth shine into the dark trees and flowers start to blossom.
His hair blows up to the sky and grass and trees follow to grow.
The hills move from East to West.
His head sways, the great forest in a storm.
His back bends, the river in flood season.
His body is a huge waterfall at dawn
Which pours down into the world from high in the sky.
All sing who follow him, all dance who follow him.
All join his resounding voice, all enable his body in motion.
In light and in freedom, he is a magic dance of the universe.

Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl's most recent poetry collection is On the Shores of Welcome Home which won the Isabella Gardner Award for Poetry and was published by BOA Editions, Ltd. in the fall of 2019.BOA also recently published Weigl’s innovative short prose book called Among Elms in Ambush.Previously he published The Abundance of Nothing (TriQuarterly Books), one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2013, a memoir – The Circle of Hanh (Grove Press, 2000) -- as well as more than twenty-five other works of poetry, essays, and translations from the Vietnamese and the Romanian.He lives in Oberlin, Ohio, and in Ha Noi Viet Nam.
Bruce Weigl

Author: Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl's most recent poetry collection is On the Shores of Welcome Home which won the Isabella Gardner Award for Poetry and was published by BOA Editions, Ltd. in the fall of 2019. BOA also recently published Weigl’s innovative short prose book called Among Elms in Ambush. Previously he published The Abundance of Nothing (TriQuarterly Books), one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2013, a memoir – The Circle of Hanh (Grove Press, 2000) -- as well as more than twenty-five other works of poetry, essays, and translations from the Vietnamese and the Romanian. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio, and in Ha Noi Viet Nam.