Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng

Theatre at Con Market

Movie-house or makeshift booth, you are the temple we urchins worship:
going to the afternoon shows with loose change
still reeking of scallions that our mothers thrust into our palms
The ticket collector would admonish
Don’t holler and cuss if the film skips
But ten times out of ten the film
always skips
at the climactic moment
Not the close-up of a lover’s kiss
here they don’t show love
only hardcore adventure themes
Tarzan
Western cowboys
Roman gladiators
At times the Little Tramp

Tarzan airborne while arrows are flying, skip
A cowboy drawing gun, flips its trigger guard round his index finger, skip
A gladiator trapped in a net as a hungry lion pounces, skip
A dozen pair of eyes swivel in the dark and
glare up at the mysterious black square window
behind them, shouting and cursing
What the f . . . ! Drat! Money back! Money back!
But no one leaves
The projector’s whirring noise resumes
Turbid column of smoky light
The cowboy’s gun is back in his holster; Tarzan reaches the edge of the
forest
The gladiator’s feet are back on the ground, his enemies’ corpses littered
about the scene
Good triumphs over evil

FIN

The lights are on, the urchins file out of the theatre
trying to fill in the gaps where the film skipped
The first attempt at creation, fill in the blank
Peanuts in pockets,
mouths forming expression,
eyes blinking, the kids take turns at connecting the plot
They will go home to eat dinner, by oil lamp, gas mantle, and if
from better households, neon light
They will gather on someone’s porch, resuming their film chat
not minding their younger siblings’ cries, or their elders’ mosquito
slapping
(there are no artillery sounds during the pre-war years)

*

Theatre at Con Market, you were the Danang Winter
along with a ship’s sirens late at night
taking us on the farthest voyages
until the time of our parting
until our last film
in which there was no gladiator, no hero, no border saloon, no fighting
arena,
no mountain, no jungle, no sidewalk, no bowler hat, no cane

A most unusual film
with military costumes full of glitter, high boots, swastika, open jeeps
German shepherds
A black and white film, boring
and sleep-inducing
A column of radon
A room
jam-packed with women
shaved and denuded
A room sealed tight
where upturned faces waited
under large shower heads situated
an arm’s reach away
No water
No water
Only the sound of gas
Terror
Cut
The only time
the film did not skip
the urchins went home sullen, mute
Cold season, cold day, cold memory.

Rạp xi nê Chợ Cồn

Rạp xi nê Chợ Cồn

Rạp hay sạp, ngươi cứ là ngôi đền của bọn lỏi tì
Những xuất chiều vào cửa bằng tiền lẻ
Bà mẹ dúi vào tay, còn mùi hành
Bác soát vé luôn luôn đe dọa
Có đứt phim thì tụi bây chớ có
la ó nghe
Và mười lần như chục
luôn luôn đứt phim
ở những đỉnh điểm gay cấn
Không phải anh hôn nàng
đây không chiếu tình cảm
chỉ có thứ dữ thôi
Tạc Zăng
Cao bồi Viễn Tây
Giác đấu La Mã
thỉnh thoảng Sạc Lô
Tạc Zăng đang giữa lưng lửng vun vút tên tua tủa, đứt
Cao bồi vừa rút súng ra khỏi bọc, quay một vòng quanh ngón trỏ, đứt
Hiệp sĩ giác đấu bị quấn bà chằng vào lưới, cọp nhảy bổng vồ tới, đứt
Chục con mắt đen trong bóng tối nhìn ngược vào cửa vuông đen bí ẩn
sau lưng, la ó, biểu tình
Chơi gì kỳ! Chơi cha dzậy! Trả vé! Trả vé!
Nhưng chẳng ông lỏi nào thực sự đứng dậy
Máy lại rè rè
Cột ánh sáng lung linh nhờ nhờ, khói
Súng đã tra vào nịt, Tác Zăng đã ra tới bìa rừng
Hiệp sĩ đang di di chân xuống đất
Xác của quân ác đầy hiện trường
Ác tà đã bị đánh bại
                    FIN
Đèn đuốc sáng, bọn nhóc ra khỏi rạp
bàn tán mắm muối vào những chỗ đứt
Thực hành đầu tiên của viết, tra vào chỗ trống
Lạc rang trong túi quần
và những cái miệng nói
con mắt lấp nhấp của những đứa chờ tới lượt
Chúng sẽ đi về nhà ăn cơm tối dưới đèn dầu, hay măng-xông, hay
sang hơn thì nê-ông
tụ tập một hàng hiên, bàn tiếp phim hồi chiều
trong tiếng đập muỗi và tiếng khóc ré
[thời chưa chiến nên chưa cà nông]
Rạp xi nê Chợ Cồn, ngươi là mùa Đông Đà Nẵng
cùng những tiếng còi thúc khuya
rủ rê những chuyến đi xa nhất
Như thế cho tới thời chúng ta chia tay
Nhớ cuốn phim cuối cùng
không hiệp sĩ, anh hùng, quán biên thùy, đấu trường hay núi rừng hay vỉa hè nón gậy
một cuốn phim bất thường
có quân phục trang kim, giày bốt, chữ Vạn ngược, xe mui trần
chó bẹc giê
phim đen trắng, chán
buồn ngủ
rồi một đường rây đơn
rồi một căn phòng
quần áo đã cởi bỏ
một căn phòng phụ nữ nêm chặt
những khuôn mặt ngước ngước hứng nước
những chiếc vòi sen to
cách những khuôn mặt ngước một với tay
không nước
không nước
chỉ có tiếng khí hơi
sự hoảng loạn
rồi Cắt, lần duy nhất
phim không đứt
và những đứa trẻ ra về lầm lì, không nói gì,
mùa lạnh, ngày lạnh, nhớ như vậy
Close

Theatre at Con Market

Movie-house or makeshift booth, you are the temple we urchins worship:
going to the afternoon shows with loose change
still reeking of scallions that our mothers thrust into our palms
The ticket collector would admonish
Don’t holler and cuss if the film skips
But ten times out of ten the film
always skips
at the climactic moment
Not the close-up of a lover’s kiss
here they don’t show love
only hardcore adventure themes
Tarzan
Western cowboys
Roman gladiators
At times the Little Tramp

Tarzan airborne while arrows are flying, skip
A cowboy drawing gun, flips its trigger guard round his index finger, skip
A gladiator trapped in a net as a hungry lion pounces, skip
A dozen pair of eyes swivel in the dark and
glare up at the mysterious black square window
behind them, shouting and cursing
What the f . . . ! Drat! Money back! Money back!
But no one leaves
The projector’s whirring noise resumes
Turbid column of smoky light
The cowboy’s gun is back in his holster; Tarzan reaches the edge of the
forest
The gladiator’s feet are back on the ground, his enemies’ corpses littered
about the scene
Good triumphs over evil

FIN

The lights are on, the urchins file out of the theatre
trying to fill in the gaps where the film skipped
The first attempt at creation, fill in the blank
Peanuts in pockets,
mouths forming expression,
eyes blinking, the kids take turns at connecting the plot
They will go home to eat dinner, by oil lamp, gas mantle, and if
from better households, neon light
They will gather on someone’s porch, resuming their film chat
not minding their younger siblings’ cries, or their elders’ mosquito
slapping
(there are no artillery sounds during the pre-war years)

*

Theatre at Con Market, you were the Danang Winter
along with a ship’s sirens late at night
taking us on the farthest voyages
until the time of our parting
until our last film
in which there was no gladiator, no hero, no border saloon, no fighting
arena,
no mountain, no jungle, no sidewalk, no bowler hat, no cane

A most unusual film
with military costumes full of glitter, high boots, swastika, open jeeps
German shepherds
A black and white film, boring
and sleep-inducing
A column of radon
A room
jam-packed with women
shaved and denuded
A room sealed tight
where upturned faces waited
under large shower heads situated
an arm’s reach away
No water
No water
Only the sound of gas
Terror
Cut
The only time
the film did not skip
the urchins went home sullen, mute
Cold season, cold day, cold memory.

Theatre at Con Market

Movie-house or makeshift booth, you are the temple we urchins worship:
going to the afternoon shows with loose change
still reeking of scallions that our mothers thrust into our palms
The ticket collector would admonish
Don’t holler and cuss if the film skips
But ten times out of ten the film
always skips
at the climactic moment
Not the close-up of a lover’s kiss
here they don’t show love
only hardcore adventure themes
Tarzan
Western cowboys
Roman gladiators
At times the Little Tramp

Tarzan airborne while arrows are flying, skip
A cowboy drawing gun, flips its trigger guard round his index finger, skip
A gladiator trapped in a net as a hungry lion pounces, skip
A dozen pair of eyes swivel in the dark and
glare up at the mysterious black square window
behind them, shouting and cursing
What the f . . . ! Drat! Money back! Money back!
But no one leaves
The projector’s whirring noise resumes
Turbid column of smoky light
The cowboy’s gun is back in his holster; Tarzan reaches the edge of the
forest
The gladiator’s feet are back on the ground, his enemies’ corpses littered
about the scene
Good triumphs over evil

FIN

The lights are on, the urchins file out of the theatre
trying to fill in the gaps where the film skipped
The first attempt at creation, fill in the blank
Peanuts in pockets,
mouths forming expression,
eyes blinking, the kids take turns at connecting the plot
They will go home to eat dinner, by oil lamp, gas mantle, and if
from better households, neon light
They will gather on someone’s porch, resuming their film chat
not minding their younger siblings’ cries, or their elders’ mosquito
slapping
(there are no artillery sounds during the pre-war years)

*

Theatre at Con Market, you were the Danang Winter
along with a ship’s sirens late at night
taking us on the farthest voyages
until the time of our parting
until our last film
in which there was no gladiator, no hero, no border saloon, no fighting
arena,
no mountain, no jungle, no sidewalk, no bowler hat, no cane

A most unusual film
with military costumes full of glitter, high boots, swastika, open jeeps
German shepherds
A black and white film, boring
and sleep-inducing
A column of radon
A room
jam-packed with women
shaved and denuded
A room sealed tight
where upturned faces waited
under large shower heads situated
an arm’s reach away
No water
No water
Only the sound of gas
Terror
Cut
The only time
the film did not skip
the urchins went home sullen, mute
Cold season, cold day, cold memory.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère