For and After Linh Dinh

 

 

Early on in his career, this poet wrote patriotic poems 

inspiring youth to premature but glorious deaths. 

This poet was one of the first of his countrymen 

to cut his hair short and adopt barbarian clothing 

and habits of speech. This poet was jailed 

for three months, where he failed to commit suicide. 

A reluctant survivor, he committed his poems 

to memory. By his own admission, this poet 

became brilliantly mad. He was, by all accounts, 

the closest to a beatnik our country has ever produced. 

To this poet, a finished poem is a corpse, 

a published poem a mummy. Favorite themes: 

romantic love, alcohol, and opium. This poet

was also collector of jokes, many of them bawdy. 

As critics have observed, this poet’s poems—

profane, obscene, and silly—might have been 

written by a five-year-old or illiterate drunk. 

This poet went from a somebody to a nobody, 

and then back to a somebody nobody read.

This poet died in a neighboring country, of malaria, 

while on a gold-digging expedition to escape from debts.

This poet introduced a cleaner, starker music

into verse and was the first to write about jazz. 

Forgotten by all but a few, he escaped overseas. 

This poet became obsessed with phantoms, 

penning classics such as “Phantom Spring,” 

“Adventures of Phantom,” “Village of Phantoms,” 

and “My Life as a Phantom.” This poet is the author 

of one unfinished historical novel and over 

one hundred unpublished, unwritten poems. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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