It’s Too Easy (Cheating in Hanoi)

At the altar,
old ash curled
like fingernails.
A funeral pours into the street.
Bouquets of lychee,
electrical wires
like black nests,
the way his old Russian motorbike
coughs down the alley—
it’s too easy
to write poetry
in this city
where nothing else is easy,
where the air is thick
and my eyes sting,
where fishermen rise from arsenic waters,
gleaming as buffalo
while I drink coffee.

See?
It feels like cheating,
stealing
images the city wrote
when it wasn’t even trying
(when all I ever do is try)—

when it was looking the way other,
when it was waiting for the light to change,

revving its engine or else
leaning a head
against a back:
arms wrapped
eyes closed

Writing poetry in its sleep

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6 Responses to “It’s Too Easy (Cheating in Hanoi)”


  1. 1 myblondemousatche June 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    awesome little poem. my phone buzzes everytime your posts go up and scurry over to your page to see what moments light your way.

    (don’t know if you noticed but your words inspire 🙂 loving the lonely girl journals.)

    blessing

    • 2 laurenquinn June 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Your phone buzzes?! I didn’t know that was possible. Good Lord I’m behind the times…

      • 3 myblondemousatche June 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        Well…its more of a melody that hums over the internal vibration of the phone, but yes, i consider it a friendly buzz 🙂

        it’s amazing what modern technology does – even in Africa – not only does it keep me in tune with the pulse of my favorite muses but it also comes to life in a way of its own.

        next thing we know they will be sending people in space…

  2. 4 Akhila K. (@akhilak) June 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    This is so true. It is so much easier to write beautifully/poetically when we’re traveling to someplace new. But perhaps we need to find poetry in our daily lives and learn to see beauty in the mundane.

  3. 5 Joaquin Gonzalez June 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Having been in Hanoi not long ago, I can relate to your poem (it evokes the hurried, noisy but exciting life happening around you.)

  4. 6 risingontheroad June 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

    It feels like cheating,
    stealing
    images the city wrote
    when it wasn’t even trying
    (when all I ever do is try)—

    when it was looking the way other,
    when it was waiting for the light to change,

    This I love – I often also have the same sense of theft albeit in other places. Beautifully written.


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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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