PoetryIssue 20 | May 2014

Two poems by Pepper Trail

Speaking French in Hanoi

It happened again and again in Hanoi.
An old man, thinning hair, halting steps,
would approach as I sat on a park bench,
would bow, and ask, Parlez-vous Francais?
The first times I shook my head:
No – American, and remained alone.

But then, I thought to say, Un peu,
(for truly it is a little, a very little),
and he sat beside me, smiling, and we pieced
together the half-forgotten lessons, the old memories.
Mine of powdery white Madame Frost, rows of desks,
the new green leaves outside the schoolroom windows.
His, of another Hanoi, unknowable to me,
A quiet city of bicycles, the colony of childhood,
and together we remembered when we
were young, and ruled, and free.

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About the author

Trail is an ornithologist, photographer, natural history guide, and poet. His work has taken him around the world, with time living in Panama, Suriname, American Samoa, and Vietnam.  Recent memorable trips include a circumnavigation of the Black Sea, and an inspection of crocodile farms in the Mekong Delta.  His poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, Borderlands, Comstock Review, Kyoto Journal and Spillway.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok