English Poems / Thơ tiếng Anh



Every day seeing our Daddy
Leisurely, chanting and meditating
Purifying the earthy realm.


Between coming and going
Realizing we are a powder of dirt
Dissolving in the immense emptiness.


This time of year, the Magnolia blooms
Our mother, like the flowers, keeps smiling
Motherly love is forever
How come the tears blurred my eyes?

Mommy! We’re still mourning you...


There are empty spaces
Just close our eyes tight
Seeing the life's limitations.


I am departing again in a hurry.
A snail greets me as I leave,
Who stands gently still?
Smiling and bowing to each other!


In silence for many days
Just awoken in pure consciousness, 
knowing everything is fragile and changing
We need to just love more 
have more love in this life.


In a walking meditation, 
Calm and serenity. 
A flock of wild turkeys followed.
I stopped and observed 
Without saying a word.
More quietness.
Life is subtle
And the truth, truly is magical.


An environment of non-harming, silence, and solitude
Always at ease and peaceful,
friendly and loving
without hostility, only nobility.
All come to practice with gentleness and relaxation,
cultivating loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
With hope, we continually engage in the practice
to change ourselves, others, communities and societies.


The course of life is like a wave’s
foam—forming and breaking.
Chasing fame and power is delusional with
tears flowing
The calm sea and a reflective moon—
Just rippled


Ninety-three unique individuals
from doctors to educators, married to single, young to old, and from all walks of life
leaving behind their families, work and everything in between
to seek calm, peace and equanimity
The meditative sessions are hard at times,
though the vegan food is delicious.
We learn to take what is offered
and learn to let go of the materialistic life.
Learn to accept, not demand or reject,
Learn to be humble and frugal in our living
and relearn how to be kind
to love,
to forgive,
to live
in this burdened world.
With all the diligent practice
our desires are shrinking,
our visions are expanding
as does our knowledge, wisdom, compassion and loving-kindness
to take back and apply to everyday life.
Embracing, loving, empowering and serving more life
to be harmonious in the world.
Peace in oneself. Peace in the world.


On the surface of the high sea
Who is still afloat?
Floating with the current
Of our country’s destiny.


The branches
reaching out or
shooting straight up
from the old and decayed trunk,
reaching for sunlight,
for life and for relative beauty.
And so are we…


The old way of life in the ancient village.
The fish are not stinking?
Life is so pure and healthy.
The sea is livelihood.


The moon of our hometown is
Always clear as it can be,
But the people are still unclear.
Why are they tepid toward the things happening around us?


Our hands reaching out,
Picked up the fresh, dead fish.
And why are we so obsessive and worry for the lives of the fishermen.
Their sweat and tears,
How many times we have shed.
Flowing as a river downward to the sea a hundred times
The fleeting lives.
These fresh, dead fish!


Below the waterfall, I sat still.
The water poured over my head.
The sound of a meditative and raging waterfall.
Just be present at the moment—Breathe!


Being here at the present moment
Sunny and bright
The vast sea
True happiness


Listening to the Sea dying,
Our hearts are choking with pain,
Just like the stones, broken over our heads.
Suddenly woken.


The trees are waving in the seasonal wind.
The hummingbirds are still buzzing extracting the nectars.
The bees are still busy pollinating.
The lizards are still sunbathing.
The wanderer is still actively observing.
Only the statue of the Buddha sits still, reflecting upon the clear pond—


Drink tea, remembering
Our Mother, who passed freely
Our Father, sits quietly
Between the two of us, still many emotions
Of the ups and downs.


Moonlit in our ancient hometown village,
We, the native, didn’t demand or show greed.
When they were hungry, they sailed to the sea
And when they were tired, they just relaxed
and buried themselves in the sand.


Birth, aging, disease
And sickness.
We cope,
Without negativity.


We invite you all from all walks of life
To our land of mindfulness, “This is my land, this is your land.”
Namaste. “I bow to the Buddha's nature within you.”
To sit with us.
Let's begin with an act of kindness.
The act of non-harm, take what is being offered,
integrity, communication and purification.

Please come, just sit
Please let me know your struggle, worries, loneliness, disappointment, suffering, despair...
Mine is no less.
Please share with me your joy, loving-kindness, aspiration, inspiration, appreciation, gratitude, excitement...
Mine is no more.

Just sit still, pay attention, and breathe.
Meanwhile the turkeys, the deers, the bobcats still roam this land.
Meanwhile the lizards still sunbathe.
Meanwhile the insects still call their desire.
Meanwhile the birds still sing.
Meanwhile the quails protect their young.
Meanwhile the yogis are practicing and non-practicing.

And the fog still comes and goes,
As does the sun and its moon.
Let's breathe and cultivate
Mindfulness, Gratitude, Compassion, Loving-Kindness…

For those I have been encountered and Dr. Bureau.

Now that we found each other,
a thought, a speech, an action,
glow in an autumn night.
Windy and cold, yet a beautiful lunar eclipse
lit our way, majestic was the warmness of the heart
inclusive with the inner wealth bathing into the emptiness.

Destroying Forest

Peaceful is the body of the redwood;
in which the hand of a human loses all peace.


A cold and windy New Year Eve in the wilderness
Hand in hand were stained with sunset.
Majestic is the quietness, we feel at peace.
Listening to our heartbeats, merging with passion as one with the universe.

Our Mother's Hands

Our Mothers hands, my hands cannot compare
They show hardships, languish and sacrifice for me
Those beautiful tapering fingers only reveal love and magic for me

Our Mother and Magnolia

This time of year, the Magnolia blooms
Our mother, like the flowers, keeps smiling too
Motherly love is forever and right
The how do the tears blur my sight?

Mommy! We still mourn for you...   


The morning dew forms and fades
The golden sunshine soothes
The peaceful heart and mind awakens to
See fame, money and power looms
Wobbling like the clouds
Fragile and unpredictable as the wave foams
Shimmering, impermanence as-is,
Yes it is ok.

59 days past
Were still missing you
Our tears shed whenever we think of you,
Mom, our tears keep rolling- our unspoken words strive
Were still missing you with our cries


The six sounds of the chime spread through the air
Real and unreal is this world
Exists and unexists is the realm

Comes and goes in this kingdom
Leisurely flow
As freely as the limitless clouds!

A Tear for A beloved Master

Crying for you, our tears flow back to the hearts
With your departure, we seek to understand and love more and more each day
Oh, our beloved Master, you are beautiful and sparkling like the dew drops which we treasure in every way

MOTHER – The bright Moon

The swallow departs and ascends into the seven clouds (haven)
The moon cresents and eclipses
Is the lunar eclipse still displacing?
Our tears encompass the milky way for you are the bright moon- dear Mother

Paying The Buddha Respect

The heavy rain just came by,

soaking Buddha's hand to later reveal a glittering sunset

Turn Them Off Now!

    For my wonderful friends, QK and their children

Please turn on the lights; turn them off now!
so we can clearly see this home
your love, my love, the love for our children
let us see our core values within
who give us happiness, suffering, despair or pity,
those that might take almost a lifetime to build, but only an hour to destroy?

Please turn on the lights; turn them off now!
so you can clearly see this life
it is fragile and impermanent
why don't we see the dew
like our love
or maybe it is only just the raindrops from the eyes 

Please turn on the lights; turn them off now!  
don't we see the wild firestorm
like a tornado of our time
endless nostalgia
the mountain of anger is extinguishing our merit on love
a prayer for you, a prayer for me and a prayer for our family
the future is endlessly full of  beauty, dream and hope
or just a flap of sunlight in the wind or sun fire
the dust do not obscure our essence nor our path
the old trail of love, tolerance, forgiveness and loving-kindness
still forever nurtured
Please turn on the lights.

Cutting Mom's Nails
To our beautiful mother

While doing the manicure for mom
with her pale and skinny hands,
the embodiment of all of the care and love;
I realize they are reserved for us, her descendants

All the hard work and suffering
of a dedicated mother you are willing to bear
to raise your young to have strong wings
that can fly across different mountain ranges

Now that we are living together, once again,
We are loving and caring for each other:
From you I learn how to love
with immense compassion.

Maternal love emulates the galaxies
in their immensity and eternity.
Doing the manicure for mom
reveals the echo of The Lotus Sutra.

Buddha mind is inside every one of us:
The Diamond Sutra - Our Mother's hands.

For Vietnamese version for this poem, please click here

For Vietnamese song of this poem, 
music by Nguyên Quang, please click here
Buông Bỏ    --      Letting Go

Lá thu bay            Autumn leaves falling         
Xoè bàn tay          Palms opening                         
Buông                   Letting go                                     

Đời hư ảo             Life is unreal                           
Bao phiền não      With much negativities           
Bỏ                         Let it drop  


At dawn, everything is just about to wake up
The wind howls in the stillness of this earthy place
The ocean is forever powerful
The waves crash into the shore,
The foams are as white as the clouds.
The ocean is vast, immense and sacred
It is as deep and wide as the love of our father
It is vast and limitless as the love of our mother
Looking at the ocean, I realize how tiny we really are
We are but a small stream, flowing into the big sea
A sea of compassion, a sea of wisdom and a sea of awakening
Life is beautiful and ever-changing,
Like today's rain following yesterday's sunshine
Life is a constant change and as fragile as a drop of dew, as sea foam or as evening clouds
But we are lucky because we have all the basic conditions for happiness
From your feet, your breath, your lips to your eyes
From your brain, your heart, your mind to your healthy hands
From the hope and encouragement of your friends and family
From the everlasting care and love from your parents and ancestors, 
Embedded with much pride, virtues and traditions
We must live to nourish our mind and heart
We must live to cultivate understanding, compassion and courage
We must live to make this world a better place for all.

THIỆN MINH - An Eternal Guiding-light
  In the memorial of 35th passing of the late Most Venerable Thich Thien Minh

The late most venerable was one of the Zen pillars of Vietnamese Buddhism;
His vows were to liberate suffering of all beings with his wisdom, courage and compassion.
He was a symbol of the national heroism with extraordinary leadership talents.
He was from the village of Bich Khe, Trieu Phong, Quang Tri.
In 1933, he became a novice monk at the age of 12 years old;
And after many hard years of studying and practicing the teachings of Buddha,
At the age of 27, he became the president of Da Lat Buddhist Association and a Dharma teacher.
He was an exceptional monk, high-regards with senior leadership ranking within the Buddhist Revival movement.
He helped build and strengthen the infrastructure of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam from Southern providences to the Highlands.
He then established of many Buddhist schools and Buddhist Bodhi academy of Nha Trang
As well as founded many Vietnamese Buddhist Associations (GDPT)
His teachings transform many generations of Vietnamese youth to dedicate their lifetime for the greater good.
The venerable fought for religious equality and social justice by non-violent means
He was the symbol of wisdom, conscious, courage, sacrifice, and peace
He was a resilient leader, indomitable and intelligent
He held many positions from Director General for Youth
To the Acting President of the UBCV’s Institute for the Dissemination of the Dharma.
He traveled and shared Dharma from East to West
His endless works and efforts were for the welfare of all Vietnamese people, Dharma, and for the country of Vietnam.
The venerable was in and out of jail in three different governments
And eventually passed away mysteriously in a harsh condition of the Communist prison
On October 17, 1978.
In the state of shocking, touching, loving and respecting of a great honorable Master
He was the symbol of Bodhisattvas in modern Vietnam Buddhist era
A great frontier, a compassionated Buddhist teacher.
He was a "White cloud floating in the vast sky..."*
"Like the moon shining upon Mount Lanka
Like the perfume rising from the Prajna lotus." **

* A Dedicated Poem by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to venerable Thich Thien Minh
**The poem of king Ly Thai Tong praised Zen Master Tỳ-Ni-Đà-Lưu-Chi (translated by Vo Dinh Mai)

The Early Morning Moon and a Wander 

In the middle of the sacred forest, listening to the sutra’s chanting
What a mystical place and space – shimmering and uplifting
The forest bird songs are orchestrating and beautiful sunshine is a gift
A dimly pale moon still exudes its striking moonlight

Herbs intoxicating the insects
Sutra's verse intoxicating me
The bell just invited – an opportunity to awake all beings
Suddenly I realized we are living in the wonderful yet impermanent world.

Boulder Creek, CA, April 2013

Fragrance of Hoa Quỳnh (Epiphyllum)

The 16th night of a summer lunar month unfolds,
who is waiting for each other?
The parted clouds just show the moon
Hoa Quỳnh (Epiphyllum - Queen of the Night Flower) blooms
as snow white to show its elegance and pureness.
With sureness
Quỳnh’s extremely rare magnificence soothes our souls
Its blossom lifespan is about four hours and short as a scroll
If life begins and ends in that blossom lifespan
What do we do in between?
The beauty of the here and now.
…Time is bobbing as a thread
Quỳnh’s fragrance is so attractive making us float like a web.
The fragrance of the Queen of the Night Flower.

Dance with Spring

A hill of tall grass
dancing with the wind
harmonizing with poetry and music
like the sound of the waterfall

Most of these words
are from our four-year-old son, Kiet Bach.

Sacramento, April 2013


The grass is so green on the mountain.
The white cloud is drifting and bobbing freely, purposeless,
Yet it’s formed like the shape of the dragon.
It flies high and low, still it appears far and near.
The cloud is sometimes just like a human’s emotion,
real and unreal.

     Praying and sharing with Boston and its Marathon's bombing victims.

a gloomy sadden afternoon
oh my dear
we are all crying

The bombs like a cyclone
just touch-downed here
our tears

Soothing and healing
holding our faces with two hands
care and love for one another

The pain
will vanish
like sponges of the wave
like a dispersing cloud.

Morning Lotus

The universe is in the dew drops
Sparkling and fanciful
Realizing the dew are clouds
- a state of being
The wisdom of the mind itself.

Spring, 2013.
Sacramento, CA.


Moon light shimmering bright at midnight
Forever remembering our homeland
Shallow tears and blood
Golden sea, mountain and land

Sacramento, CA - Spring, 2013.

            For our Oanh Vu
Loving and respecting our parents
Loving and caring for our siblings
The Buddha is in all of us
So, we always show respect.
July 15th, 2012.


The bells are ringing at the Vatican
The Roman Catholic Church has a new pope
with new direction and hope.
May our world peace is spreading
as thousands of people at the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican city are cheering
for the betterment of the church and many heart and mind
as well as for the greater good of mankind.
and let's bring on celebration
The present is the precious gift.

Sacramento, March 11th, 2013 at 11:25AM.

Peaceful Steps

Which flowers covered the still lake?
Remembering the cherry blossom season with its poetic rhythms
Is it the rain of flowers petals or your hair floating freely?
As the gentle breeze blew
Is it a virtual dream or reality?

          To the those who was affected by Sandy in the East Coast

Lived in the central coast of Binh Dinh, Vietnam
I witnessed typhoons many times
when I was a young boy
Like hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean of our States
It is fury, powerful and devastating
The power of nature is limitless and
is a mighty phenomenon
Once experienced, we realized how tiny we really are
Again, it reminds us to live
in harmony with others and with our mother earth
Protect and embrace her.

        To my friend Ann Silberman – a cancer a**kicker.

Sickness is part of life, but you’re handling it
with so much compassion and perseverance
As graceful and elegant as you truly are
from the chemotherapy to the mastectomy that you faced
you’re doing so with courage
and you’re full of awareness.
To me, you are awakened when you realized,
“My cancer is me, my cells.
My stubborn, self-willed cells.
Why would they be any less determined than I am to live, to survive?”
Yet your determination to live has the foundation of love and compassion
Of wisdom and altruism
You’ll overcome another hurdle with devotion to serve
I admire your willingness to heal yourself as well as others
- an act of selflessness
I also appreciate and promote your openness, honesty, and attitude
Your fighting spirit is marching on
Living, learning and loving
Find the joy and beauty in the ordinary things
Even the tiny smallest things
Cherish the things that you have and things that you don’t have
You’re the true champion of love and benevolence.

Mira Loma High, Oct. 5th, 2012.

The Moon - Emptiness, and astronaut Neil Armstrong
  In loving memory of the first person on the Moon

The blue moon*
The cold night forms dew
on the golden leaves - glittering
midnight, the wind just comes
whispering with clusters of bamboo
endless heart.

Remembering our hero - Neil Armstrong
departing this world
as a crane freely flying home in the late afternoon.
fame and power
        as fragile as foam
                as impermanent as moss.
Tossed aside
          changing clothes
                   with a peace in mind
                        floating into emptiness.

Sacramento, August 31st, 2012.

Today's (Aug. 31) blue moon is also the day of Neil Armstrong's funeral. A blue moon is the name given to the second full moon in a single month, a rare occurrence that won't happen until 2015.

             To Jacques, Diane and to all the 2012 BP3 participants

At the beginning of time
‘til the end of it
There is nothingness
Emptiness – the non-existence of the self and the dependent origination
All Dharma are interdependent
All the essence of life and non-life
The way they are – As is
Seeding, blooming, fragranting, conditioning, manifesting, transforming
All physical beings are subject to change
Everything is impermanent
Including our thought, emotion and intention
The potential to awake
is sprouting with our daily diligent practice
Of mindfulness, of wisdom, of compassion and of selflessness
Serving others is an offering to the Enlightened One
and to our own Buddha nature within
At the beginning of time
‘til the end of it
There is Emptiness.

Institute of Noetic Sciences **

Petaluma, CA. September 1st, 2012.

* An assignment to find something to offer to the Buddha altar and talk about it.  I chose nothing and talk about the Emptiness concept in Buddhism.

* * The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and investor Paul N. Temple to encourage and conduct research on noetic theory and human potentials. Institute programs include "extended human capacities", "integral health and healing", and "emerging worldviews". (source: Wikipedia.org)

IN and Out at Will
            To Gus, Jeff and Joette

I am in and out of the maximum-security state prison at will
What a release…
A comfortable feeling.
Finding peace, even bliss in this violent prison place
Even here Dharma seeds are sown
It is a miracle
The criminal elements, once foolish
Now show remorse and regret inside the prison
They come to the Buddha's door and join the meditation retreat,
Personally sowing their own fresh Dharma seed in the middle of stagnancy and uncertainty.
Tonight I see many benefits for the inmates
Even the prison guards are peaceful
The criminals look for ways to be transformed by finding
In the Chapel of cement cold walls true independence and freedom.
Tonight I came out of jail and found how beautiful things really are
The golden deer look at me bewildered
The crescent, Dormant, moon light is sparkling the night.
I listen to my footsteps on an immense footpath going home.

Folsom State Prison, CA.
November 2011.

Loving Life and Building Self-esteem
                        To our Nganh Thieu
Our dear young adolescents
You are beautiful and charming
We are obligated to be pious
Studying and practicing well at school

You are the bright future
Thus love this beautiful life and build your self-esteem
Be a giver and contributor to mankind
That is the beauty of great GDPT love.
 July 15th, 2012.

            For our Oanh Vu
Loving and respecting our parents
Loving and caring for our siblings
The Buddha is in all of us
So, we always show respect.
July 15th, 2012.


The other day on channel 89.3FM, National Public Radio
Listening to an anguished cry of a Lebanese woman
who just lost her husband and kids to Israel’s bombs.
Oh, the suffering cry like that.
It was harsh to the listeners,
and I cried with her.
Suddenly I found myself in that anguished cry of the young woman.
I realized that I am a victim of the war.
It’s all about death, suffering, and endless separations and shattered lives.
I see that I am a young Lebanese woman
Who is angry and demonstrates hatred.
She cries for the loss of her family.
I also see myself as an exhausted Israel
which defends its people from the endless ray of missiles,
and I see myself as an arrogant American
who sells destructive and deadly weapons to Israel.
Oh, with many differences, “selfish” came from the “self-love” or ego-ness.
Oh, that tiny ego;
Oh, ignorance - inconceivable.
Hatred should not pay back with hatred, but with true love.
There is nothing to lose by sitting down with one another.
Why don’t we understand each other?
Your loss is also my loss;
Your anguish is also my anguish;
Your suffering amounts, mine is no less.
Same with religion and in real life:
Deep down, we are all no different
Our blood is all red, and the sweat is salty.
So, we must understand one another.
From the suffering of war,
May we find the source of happiness.

Mira Loma H.S. 05/06


There are tiny sources of happiness
like the falling leaves of the autumn,
or the smells of the wild flowers,
or an early sunrise,
or a late full moon night,
or the song of the cardinal,
or observing the young get his milk,
or the way the mother loves her kids,
or the wind blowing by the windows
or the clear evening once the rain stops.
Oh, once the soul is at peace,
happiness arises
To have all the great joys.
They start with these tiny sources of happiness;
And to have great success,
It must come from small achievements;
and to have a long lasting peace in the world,
it must come from the peace of mind of each individual.
From the red lips to the sound of the forest,
There is a source of happiness.

Distant Road

Driving to Los Angeles
The road seems long and endless.
Green hills are greeting along the way
With warm sunshine.
Inside the car, there is ThanhTrang
Sleeping on her husband’s shoulder.
He keeps quiet and thinks to himself:
“She must be tired.”
Staring at those red juicy lips,
He can only look and nothing else…

                           Somewhere along I-5 in CA.


I am from the land of Âu Lạc
where its history dates back 4000 years.
I am from the bamboo stick
Mom used to carry under her weak shoulders.
I am from the broken fish net
that my daddy sewed to catch fish, raised me.
I am from the smell of fish sauce
with steamed rice, salted squid for dinner.
I am from “The Golden rules”,
“Be modest”, and “Live with your own conscience”.
I am from my Grandpa’s gentleness:
care for others and live in harmony.
I was taught compassion conquers all hatred;
look at life with loving eyes.
I am from the care and love
of my family, of the endlessness of time…
and sometimes I feel that
I am from ….. within here and there,
a country people called a window of opportunity, we called America;
the other side of the ocean is an S-shape country, Việt Nam – my homeland.
I am from… I am from…
Oh my friends! Where did I say I am from?
It’s very important where I am from; it also matters where I am going.
I am from… I am from…

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