Morning at O’Hare Airport

Hai-Dang Phan translating Phan Nhiên Hạo from the Vietnamese

click here for the Vietnamese text

click here for the Translator’s Note

Fried coffee            elastic air                buttery smell
black trash cans         music mildly jazzy           sogginess
airplanes taking off           airplanes landing             I’m not glad
escalators rolling                 the crowd                  compromises
rainbows of words           for advertisement          waste of color
history                                  on television           waste of blood
crap food                   restrooms flush             noisily.

Hai-Dang Phan is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Florida. His translations of other poems by Phan Nhiên Hạo appear or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, Cerise Press, and Drunken Boat.

Phan Nhiên Hạo was born in Kontum, Vietnam in 1967 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1991. He is the author of two collections of poems in Vietnamese, Thiên Đường Chuông Giấy (Paradise of Paper Bells, 1998) and Chế Tạo Thơ Ca 99-04 (Manufacturing Poetry 99-04, 2004). A full-length, bilingual collection of his poetry, entitled Night, Fish, and Charlie Parker, was translated into English by Linh Dinh (Tupelo, 2006). Translations of his poetry have also been featured in the anthology Of Vietnam Identities in Dialogue (Palgrave, 2001) and Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish, 2001). He lives in northern Illinois, and edits the online journal litviet.