my poems 1996

RENDEZVOUS  /  Thai Ta, April 1996

Meet me up there on that plane
Where thoughts and feelings melt together in harmony
No pretension necessary
Just pure peace and joy
And love pours through our thirsty hearts
Mingling with the whole.

How I yearn to sense you up there
On that plane where flowers smile
Where their fragrance reminds me of millennia past
When we first embraced now embracing and will again and soon on that plane

If you’d just…

Meet me up there, oh it’s not so hard
All you need is nothing, what you really need
Is follow your instincts, your deep-in-the-core-of-your-cells instincts
And you’ll see a different form
Which is perfection — The Absolute!
Which is You
Which is I
Which is God.


LOOKING  /  Thai Ta, November 1996

With looking comes uneasy peace
Of knowing that the game is on
You play, and play hard
To win
The prize, the prize, the ultimate goal
Love, the love, to have and to hold
Pray that you never lose
At least, not till you’ve played a good game.

With knowing comes the burden
Of accepting that which is universal
I mean, of course, dissatisfaction
With living in general
Love in particular
For how can there be perfection
In the world of illusions

But com’n, I don’t want to sound
Like I’ve given up
I haven’t really
Am still looking
That one day someone will say
Come now, hey, take a chance
Come now. You! Take my hand…
Yes, I have found
I am found
At last.


SWEET FRIEND  /  Thai Ta, February 1997, Vi Kien Retreat

Always faithful, always gentle
You wait for me at the end of a restless quest
You wait for me to be still
And accept
That which is meant to happen, which is no big revelation, but an answer
To a burning question.

I’ve been so lost and alone
Sometimes it takes blind rage to just carry on
You know the cycle, the routine
of wandering and wandering
And all the while searching for a tiny meaning
Of life, my life, my way of living
Of You, your truth, your way of being.
Tell me, Sweet Friend
Which is more significant,
The fact that I’m from You, or You are a part of me?
You see, it’s tricky but it matters
That I can be your friend, not just You are my creator.

Always there, always fair
You wait for me at the end of a journey
Have I been blind, really ignorant all these years
To not know your call, urging, cheering on?
Have I been so caught up in this fantastic illusion
To not distinguish shadows from light?
If so, forgive me Friend
Let’s start now, let’s start fresh
On equal terms
We’ll be friends
Special friends
Now and forever.


CRY  /  Thai Ta, March 1997

Sometimes I wish I could cry
Real tears
‘Cause of some biological malfunction my eyes are dry so dry
For my mother, whom I just bought a leopard-print jacket in hope of cheering her up, who knelt on the pavement to pay respect to a Burmese high priest just the other day, whose man had just left her for some Amerasian my age… Dear Mom!
For my aunt, whom I gave my drag wig when she stopped by around Christmas, whose photos taken as a sweet child, a beauty, a white-haired woman made me think how fast how so fast life could just pass you by, and at the end, at her end, I hope it won’t be with the man who sweet-talked her into living with him but treated her less than she deserved… Oh my aunt!
For my brother, whom I’d actually prefer not to see nor hear from, but still care, still love, maybe, maybe not.
For friends, HIV+, divorced, estranged, etc.
For myself pity pity pity!

I cover my face
My surrounding, incense, wine, candle, shadows on the ceiling, “Jesus to a Child”, my face still smooth…
“God”, I pray, “God, help me, so weak, can’t feel You, can’t feel…”
Must be the wine
God I can’t cry!


MOONLIGHT  /  Thai Ta, July 1999

please don’t touch me, moonlight
my shell’s been broken, and I’m hurt
lying here exposed
waiting for the final blow

no pity, but no pity please
some jokes are more cruel than others
a good laugh, a good cry
and then we all die

but please no moonlight tonight
its caress won’t hold any comfort
I need my dignity
stay away, moonlight, please!


IN LOVE  /  Thai Ta, July 1999

something in the eyes / intangible / a heartbeat / quickened / dizziness / spread through / something seems to form / from thin air / that makes sense / of your life on pause / this is meant to be / because… / because!

someone with half your soul / asks to be given / to return / the gift / this precious gift / of noblest nature / purest essence / someone waiting /someone hoping / that heavenly bodies align / earthly elements combine / perfectly / for just one night.

never the same / ever the same / yet / something about / a feeling / no more / no less / fleeting / that ignites a machinery / long dead / a hundred winters ago / now illuminated / soon animated / a smile / a faint sigh,

yes I am.


RAMBLING  /  Thai Ta, August 1999

a word / thrown out / floating, floating / like a helium balloon / reaching / hope against hope / wishing / to reach the stars / only to be struck down / by silence / back to

a heart / forever scarred / nursing its wound / beating, beating / pushing the blood / red like roses / scattered all over

a body / too tired to move / too torn to salvage / a bit of pride here / a bit of respect there / forget about joy / gone is peace / just leave / a little /of

a memory / in sunny climate / where youth reigns / love rules / goodness prevails / people look at one another / in the eyes / and see / a soul / like yours and mine / and his and hers / the substance / of angels and / maybe some not-too-nasty / devils

a thought, / just…


PRAY  /  Thai Ta, August 1999

if I had just one dream
it would be to sit by Jesus the Christ
looking in his eyes
listening to his words
catching him smile
wondering about the transformation
from Jesus the child to Jesus the man,
of a mortal heart to Holy Spirit
how could he love the way he loved?
how could I learn to emulate?

forgive me, but I’m filled with hate
and cynicism, suspicion, revulsion
of ugliness and yuckiness and blandness
in people, God’s children,
so I guess, my own
brothers, sisters
but not really
I don’t see myself in them
then again

if I had this one wish
the world would be in harmony
wait, let’s make it the universe
all kinds with all joy
joy within and joy without
God weeps!
tears of happiness
no more ignorance
away indifference!
I care, you care, we care
caring is divine
y’know what I mean
never mind!

’cause there’s no dream
and there’s no wish
all spent, all wasted, all dead
now I wait for the next day
same like today, same like the last
days, slow, days, fast
and I pray to Jesus my savior
help me bear my sorrows.


SLEEPLESS  /  Thai Ta, August 1999

I miss the love I never had
in all those springs, all those summers
I miss the love I’ll never have
through coming falls, bitter winters

I miss the man whose eyes are kind
who comforts me when there’s no hope
I miss a phantom in my mind
which whirls like crazy, I can’t stop

thinking about how I’ll grow old
white hair, wrinkles, all alone
will God save me from emptiness
will I say I’m truly blessed

’cause I survive the darkest years
and look at me! I have no fear
life’s for living, I’m already dead
might as well, now go to bed!


NEED  /  Thai Ta, December 1999

need a reason to live
need a reason to be
I ask inanimate objects
to cheer me up, please
candles, music, movies
books, flowers, TV
a little wine to numb the senses
but really the trick
is to have a lot of money

have a heart that cannot love
have a body that cannot feel
I escape to my dream world
of exquisite passions, cheap thrills,
of alien images and fantastic
plot lines, and sometimes
sexual relief, comic relief
I come, I laugh
but dreams are brief

and I wake up with the alarm
wishing for shock treatments
settling for a cup full of caffeine
feeling the urge to flee
need to pee
need a reason to breathe
need a slap, a kiss
need a meaning, a revelation
need God, even God’s condemnation
but instead I fear
I just have a medium depression.


BE HAPPY  /  Thai Ta, December 1999

everything boils down to money
everything boils down to a few
seconds of orgasm
everything boils down
to me, me, me!

it should be said that I agree
to basic necessities
provided we don’t hurt anybody
go ahead & be happy

do all the things you wish and dare
become heroes, stars, extraordinares
put your heart into shaping
a better world
with certain flair

do one thing
for free, now and then
a charity
be content
that you are put here on Earth
for a reason, a purpose

not to make money
not to have sex, or just… be
no, no, stop, think for a minute
have a perspective

be weak/strong
be right/wrong
if you can afford it
be eternally young
for life is fragile
and when you’re gone
what’s left


REVELATIONS  /  Thai Ta, January 2000

I pray to You
the God of big designs
and of small details
the God of all things in between
reveal to me your secrets
’cause I’ll never find out
on my own

I pray to You
the God of my blood
of RNA and DNA
of brain waves
for that matter, radio waves and micro waves
how frightening You are!
the extent of your power
hidden in those dark matter
reveal to me your thirst
for adventures

I say to You, my Lord
the finest creation ever
must be love
yet, in close examination
it’s what we lack, I fear
is the engine that pushes us forward
to the unknown region
of your world
love and the attainment of love
dull our drive
reveal to me your imperfection
before You demand my trust

I pray to You, my Lord
take back your prophets, saviors, religions
and leave me with just a knowledge
that You, too, are in your prison.


PROMISE  /  Thai Ta, July 2000

There will be skies for you, my love
filled with wonders, and you will ask,
“All this for me?”, and I will say,

“There will be worlds, eternities,
a million you, a million me.”
A seamless dream good for a laugh,

good for a cry. There will be skies
of ancient past and fluid future,
and you will start to remember

that way back when at this moment,
a simple promise has been made —
my love for you would never fade…


QUIET  /  Thai Ta, January 2000

quiet joy & quiet pain
I cover my face
in quiet shame
a confession
now and then
to God, to self
it’s all the same

quiet life & quiet death
no one will know
my hate
my love
quiet eyes
look but can’t see
heaven above


TEARS OF THE SEA  /  Thai Ta, May 1984

(my original poem in Vietnamese, Lệ Biển translated by Nguyễn Quốc Vinh)

The sea holds in its caress an unending epic, /  mixed with the doleful sound of seagulls on their spread wings sweeping through the last patch of scattered light.  /  In long strides on the sand – human footprints continually effaced by waves upon waves – /  I walk on, as if in a dreamy trance.

Tonight will be a night of glory!  /  My friends’ skills at make-up will make me shed my hull.  /  With a bit of cream smooth upon my countenance,  /  With exotic colors harmonious over my eyes,  /  With a touch of powder on my cheeks, a dash of rouge on my lips,  /  With clothing flashy in its garishness,  /  With a long stream of hair caressing my shoulders,  /  I will exude such radiance as a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, /  and such aristocratic elegance as a swan sporting jade-white wings.

Tonight, /  amidst a soiree ball sparkling with lights, reverberating with music I will…  /  take the dainty steps of a damsel across the wide threshold,  /  through rows of tables, before countless yearning eyes, over hushed admiration and gossip.  /  I will show a most radiant smile and throw myself to dance the rhythms  /  sometimes slow, sometimes fast,  / of a sinuous tango.  /  Packed tight around me are faces  /  some familiar, some unfamiliar,  / Packed tight around me are couples  /  Some young, some old.

Tonight will be a night of glory.  /  I will sit silent like a stone statue, listening quietly to a sad song  /  and chuckle to myself upon having discovered someone singing praise to my unique, extraordinary comportment.  /  To myself I call my name, my name (?)  /  and philosophize,  /  “Life is a string of dramas.”

Tonight will be a night of glory?  /  I will take mental note of the loves in my life and add them up to a distasteful zero.  /  I will remember those people I have loved in silence, in desperation, in bitterness, in disgrace,  /  those times I have made a fist in protest against a hallowed force that toys with misadventure.  /  “O my soul, after nights of anguish,  /  please take leave of my body —  /  in utter disregard for heaven  /  or hell.”

The sea continues in its caress of an unending epic,  / mixed with the murmurs of my weary heart.  /  A drop of sea water hangs over the corner of my eye,  /  a twitch of the trembling lips…

Tonight,  /  when the rouge and powder will have gone smeared what will I have left…  /  except the body of a boy?!


ONCE GIVEN  /  Thai Ta, November 1985

Received or rejected  /  Once given, it’s gone  /  The heart, no longer protected  /  Bears its fate alone.  //  Lies or deceiving truth  / Once whispered, it’s heard  /  The reply is but…  /  Not a single word.


FROM WHERE I STAND  /  Thai Ta, May 1993

From where I stand  /  Life is an endless road  /  Not that I haven’t traveled far  /  But the journey seems long  /  Because…

Should I tell you about my search  /  Inward, outward, upward, downward  /  For some sense of who I am  / And from where I came.

Often I wonder – with all imagination, intuition, and a bit of logic –  / About the very first instant I was created  /  A spark among sparks of life  /  From God and of God  /  Eons, eons ago  /  It must have been thrilling, that exciting awakening!  /  Did I think to myself — or ask my sibling selves –  /  Where will we go?  /  What should we do? /  Eternity, such concept!  /  An endless road  /  The journey’s just started…

From where I am,  /  Reunion with my Creator seems so impossible  /  The countless incarnations, transformations, experiences have made me a desperate soul  /  Imperfect  / A tainted spirit  /  Yet always, this yearning for Love,  /  for Home, For God.

Now that there are zillion worlds and beings and complications and laws and whathaveyou  /  I feel lost.  /  Lonely. Forgotten.  /  Will God miss me if I don’t make it to Reunion?  /  Does God care?

Of course God cares, I should know better  /  From where I stand, nothing really matters  / Except…  /  March on!  /  One foot in front of the other  / March on.


THIS TIME, I’LL RUN  /  Thai Ta, August 1993

There are times  / When I remember to look up  /  To see clouds chasing clouds on a canvass of blue  /  Times when I feel my own breath  /  So gentle, so foreign  / And I think of You.

Tell me once more about the sunlight  /  How it touches everyone without discrimination  /  How the rain washes all dirt  /  From everything without hesitation.

The sky above where angels mingle  /  The breath I borrow that one day I’ll return  / When I think of You, my Lord  /  My eyes burn.

Have You not granted me the world  /  And miracles, blessings, and above all, Love?  / Have I offered in return  /  Promises, more promises, and what of my love?

Yet, tell me once more about the Path  /  That’s narrow and less traveled  /  Ask me to hurry, to come home  /  This time, I’ll run!


ECLIPSE  /  Thai Ta, November 1993

I saw the moon this morning  /  Still round, still intact after the total eclipse last night  / I saw the sun  /  Bursting its brilliant light.

Out there, I know, lives a mystery  /  Since Beginning, until the End  /  A wondrous entity A friend.

Beyond the grinding machinery called living  /  There must be more, gotta have more  / A meaning  /  Of what all this is for.

I saw myself this morning  /  Caught. Struggling. Help, please!  /  I saw myself  /  Yet, I couldn’t really be.


BLESSED NIGHT  /  Thai Ta, March 1994

In endless nights, I’ve tried to find  /  That piece of me, that peace of mind  / Be still my soul, be still my heart  /  Nothing matters, here, in the dark.

A million times, I’ve cried Your name  /  A thousand lives, lessons, the same  /  Be free my self, be free my selves  /  Break the cycle, break all the spells!

One day soon, old doubts erased  / In darkness, I’ve found solace  /  One day I’ll learn about the truth  / Blessed night, when I find You.


OUT  /  Thai Ta, May 1994

Mama! This is my man  /  We have a lot in common, he and I /   A love for theatre, music, and dance, spicy Thai food, and pizza with everything  /  He’s a bit serious  /  I’m a bit careless at times  /  Don’t know what’s appropriate, what’s not  /  But here he is, so nervous meeting you  /  Here I am…  /  Mama! D’you approve?

Oh Papa, tell me again!  /  How it hurts when you lose your woman   /  The age-old pain  /  Must have felt the same  /  I still love my woman, y’see  /  Maybe I’m a fool, but I really thought she was the one, oh God, let her be the one!  /  Her smile had this power, still does, that made me skip a heartbeat  /  Made me long to kiss that flower.

Mama! This is my man  /  We have a lot in common, he and I  /  A love for each other, same taste in clothes  /  He loves my moustache, but can’t grow one  /  And I adore his eyes, so expressive  /  Two black holes, black holes used to be suns, y’know?

Papa, it hurts so bad  /  Nothing helps, and don’t tell me it should hurt less  / ‘Cause it’s not real, my love for her  /  Perhaps it should hurt more  /  ‘Cause I’m a woman, yeah, a woman feels more.

Family! This is my life  /  (louder) THIS IS MY LIFE  /  Not just some alternative lifestyle!


LEAF  /  Thai Ta, August 1994

A green leaf sang  /  In my dream last night  /  Look at me  /  I’m one I’m million I’m none  / A manifestation of forces  /  Done and undone  /  May I share with you a secret  /  Whispered to me by the wind, or God’s breath?  /  In the core of humanity  /  Exist  /  Seeds of paradoxical dualities, unparallel beauty…  /  In the heart of God  /  Forever  /  Loneliness.


MONK  /  Thai Ta, September 1994

A lesson? — He asked, gently  /  No child, I have none to offer  /  Perhaps one, just this one thought  /  Breathe in  /  Breathe out  /  Contemplate on the nature of nothingness  /  My mother smiled thankfully  /  For words of wisdom from a Buddhist monk standing in a quiet corner near Phat Tai Supermarket  /  For blessing, my mother wanted me to give the monk a dollar  /  But I couldn’t.

When I wanted to a few days later I went back  /  To where the strange monk stood,  /  And where my mother took off her shoes before respectfully approaching  /  He wasn’t there  /  Yet, I felt a lesson  /  Of reaching up  /  Reaching down  /  Reaching in  /  Reaching out  /  Of how we live between two eternities  /  Flying round the sun a few dozens revolutions and round and round…

And the dollar intended to be charity  /  I traded for a lottery ticket.