Tác giả gửi cho bè bạn bài thơ dưới đây Where have all the flowers gone? và nói là “một bài thơ buồn”. Có người đọc lại nói rằng bài thơ đó không buồn mà chỉ là những chấm phá ghi lại diễn trình thay đổi của đất nước Mỹ, trong chưa đầy một thế kỷ, một vùng đất tự hào và được coi là “đất của cơ hội”. Và chấm dứt bằng một nỗi bâng khuâng.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
You can tell me I am pretty,
That I have a sunny smile,
At home, at work, on the go.
I am not offended by your comment,
I relish the compliment,
As I know it comes from a gentle heart.
Like the sun whose rays on the porch dance their art,
Your compliment won't stroke my ego,
It just gives my day a good start,
And keep my steps bouncing all day long.
Is it how I start my day or is is just a swansong
Of the stark reality of the present everyday life?
I remember a time when our country was gentle, so was life,
Doors were without keys, houses were open to walk-in neighbors,
Carrying a dish of pie, borrowing a cup of milk or sugar,
Days of sunny porches where sat elderly people,
Watching children play hopscotch, dance in the sun,
Mothers come by with baby carriage for a morning stroll,
Fathers heading to workshops and factories,
In leisure bouncing steps, a smile on their physiognomy.
I remember the days when a compliment is a compliment,
A date is a time of acquaintance over an ice cream cone,
When teens are not, out of their mind, stoned,
Parties are not drowned in smoke of marijuana, design drugs concoctions,
Sex is not a thing vulgar and violent,
But a time of happiness of two hearts in communion.
So sad is a time when fourteen years old girls become pregnant,
Because they forget to take birth control pills of prescription,
A time of children born out of wedlock, without father figure,
Not growing up or growing up in the harsh omen of a doomed future,
A sad time when inner city kids are victims of gun and gangs' violence.
I remember a time of ribbons, flowers and youth spring,
When evenings are times for poetry writing and reciting,
Nights are for serenades under the moonlight,
A time when boys shyly ask girls to a long awaited prom night.
When have all those sweet moments disappeared from our life,
Were have all the flowers gone, withering in the harsh life strife?
I don't think I am yet old and forgetful,
As those things so genuine, so wonderful,
Existed just four decades ago, in the mid seventies, in our country,
When from sea to shining shore, the star spangled flag flew so proudly,
As the war folded, the soldiers came home,
To their sweetheart, sweet family, sweet home.
When did we become so callous and heartless,
When does the world fill with terrors, threats, distress,
Bombs in trains and subways, work places; skies overtaken by drones,
Cars with unattended babies, vehicles moving on their own,
With parents dead in the front seats from drug overdose?
When is a school bus driver flagged down by a seven years old girl out of her mind,
Telling him that her parents won't open their eyes,
Gone in the high of drug haze or nightmarish delusions?
When did gangs grow like mushrooms in ghettos and suburbs,
Police lose control of riots and grips of what is fair and square of decision,
Homeless people overtake city parks and street curbs,
Mind numbed in drugs, forgetting their tattered children in sad tow,
A picture of health crisis, security and order in shamble, of appalling, pathetic human show!
O when, O God, has my country become so tragic,
With distraught people out of hope,
A country overwhelmed with violence and dope,
Morals in decline, faith in panic?
And we still live in a self-denying illusion, unhealthy, apathetic,
That the USA is still a giant with liberty, freedom, equality, justice, in seams and dreams,
A land of opportunity and prosperity where still exists the American dream?
Huỳnh Anh Trần-Schroeder