“(Tai)verberations” ~ a poem by Võ Đức Quang

Early Winter on Street Corner by Le Huong (Nguyen Art Gallery)

~ ~ ~

Listen to Võ Đức Quang read his poem:


with fond memories of Taiwan

I. Encountering old friends at Chia Nan University

In our morning rush to Tainan Station,
we nearly missed
three familiar faces
we met one Houston summer
standing by our shuttle bus
Dropping our laden bags,
we rushed to hug the shy figures
light as willows
not knowing when we would meet again
Days travelling through pigeon colored skies
felt warmer—
with each parting smile

II. Outside the matchmaker god’s shrine

Yue Lao
the matchmaker god
has a little shrine stocked with devotees

the many hopeful angel-eyed
sprout dreams sweeter than tangerines,
higher than woodwind trills

Standing comfortably next to you,
I see the sanctuary smoke
creep by our feet—then move on

III. Water calligraphy

A sandstone slab,
some trickling water,
a brush for two.

Six characters
we wrote
not knowing why
lay side-by-side.

Evening strips away
another afternoon.

You turn,
I set the brush to rest,
and our characters
harden back to stone.

IV. Walking through Chia Nan University

Now all the mirroring waters
above Chia Nan
turn milky dark

and yet I see you
beautifully empty
like blossoms colored by the moon.

You know that mirror flowers never bloom—
but softly knock on my door
and I promise to reply.

V. Remembering Taipei

How the cars’ exhaust hid
my discreet stares.

Rain showers briefly
our slender bodies.

Firefly girl—
I weigh my luggage
and leave you behind.

Thinking of home,
I wonder where it lies.
Among mirror strangers or
foreign friends.

VI. Tucked on the metro

Tucked on the metro
reading Pilgrims of the Clouds.

Dandelion faces
in athletic wear
decorate the turquoise seats.

A mother corrects her little boy
innocent as water
for talking loudly.

I miss the homeland
sheltered in my mother’s voice.

VII. Reminiscing at a polling station in Zhongzheng

It may be argued that the past is a country from which we have all emigrated.
               —Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands

As we stood watching the vote tally,
every secret grain of delta silt
sewn into my skin
for a childhood home.

I conjure phantasms
from the homeland in my mind—
a lonely Vietnam without goodbyes
hidden behind birth-pained eyes.

Amid vibrant Taipei,
I stare back at a monochrome memory—
if I turn to salt.

Author Bio

Võ Đức Quang is a recipient of the Susan T. Scanlon and the Joy Linsley Memorial Poetry Awards at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas where he served as poetry editor for Laurels literary magazine. His literary interests are Vietnamese literature from 1940s-1975 and diasporic literature.

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