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Bacha Market: An Experiment in Regionalism

In the early 1900’s the American public was introduced to a new type of literature. It could be
purchased cheaply, digested by many, and served as a gateway to parts of the country that, for the most part, due to economic, social, and infrastructure issues lay beyond the means of the ordinary
citizen. The works were classified under the broad term of regionalism and they took readers to the
villages that they passed on highways, to great rolling country sides they may have only glanced at on a cheap postcard, or to a legendary space whispered about by those who inhabit the shadows of
bars, wishing, all the while, to be on a great adventure. A famous regionalist book, Country of the
Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett, the author who arguably made this kind of writing popular, is an
excellent example of this kind of work

As a university student I was assigned to read Country of the Pointed Firs and immediately was
murdered by it; a cruel, mundane homicide that utilized the most banal and boring of instruments, only finishing me off as I rested my eyes, smothering me with its one hundred or so pages. For the modern reader, regionalism is a slog; a brutal, slow paced, detail rich, plotless (mostly) exploration of a space. Our minds that are so used to three minute video highlights of a locale cannot contend with the drip
of information. We crave the Sparknotes of a setting. Before we travel, we admit we are
dummies, and pick up a book specifically addressed to us. The best of us will break an area down into: sites, restaurants, bars, and hotels making each stop on the trip a strategic move in exploration, as if we were colonial generals scoping out new outposts. When we watch those quick shots of temples
panned across or waterfalls at the moment when a beautiful local woman dives in, we are treating
expansive settings as newspapers, and only reading the headlines. To be partially informed is in
style, and many of us wear it well. We have traded the full bodied bathing suits for bikinis, but that
extra fabric does not simply disappear with the tide; it stays wedged in our folds, hidden, itching, making its presence all too known, but like those obese men in speedos, we cannot rotate far enough
around to inspect if another three inches of cheek is showing or if an unfortunate fly has landed upon our moonscape. The details of a place are still in that way hidden from us

It takes a long time to extract the spices of a region. One has to get dirty, roll around in the
dust, then watch and make notes on how it slides down into the drain as it washes off. A hangover
from the local liquor is the only way to see the sunset from the neighborhood boys’ eyes, and a smile
from one of the ladies will be the only way to know how their hearts flutter. You have to let your hand
navigate the tall grasses on the side of the road to know what it would have been to be a babe
there, and to have gotten lost in that jungle. Ideas need to be gleaned from that old man in the
corner of the restaurant, who, no matter what day you go, is sitting in the same spot, a half smoked
cigarette in the ashtray, one leg crooked over the other, with a bored eye assessing every
movement. In this way regionalism is still important; the panorama of images that, refusing to
leave the other four senses orphaned, create a quilt encompassing the entire atmosphere, feeling,
and setting. Below, I will share with you a digestible regionalism poem about the sunday market in
Bacha, Vietnam. I endeavor to wrap you in the market, so that you may feel the warmth of its fabric upon your body. I hope this doesn’t suffocate you.




hum yellow lights stop


water buffalo leads the purple master



a lilac flag awakened by the early wind


clouds pull back a sheet of han purple
agitated coffee

the sun begins its salutation

old man spit trumpets the lavender parade
motorbikes piled high with florist shades


horses grudgingly accept a tug by hung over boys who
stare at their burden with dark eyes from caved shoulders

a crepe is flipped
dough is rolled
oil is tickled to an eternal giggle

old knees

onto stools

knotted hands press upon another
patiently waiting their purpose

young girls with woven baskets clanging fake silver
their gold teeth shine like bus stop ads

noodles whsiper to eachother in massaging water

Nếu đó là không đúng sự thật, nó vẫn là một ý nghĩ hạnh phúc
Nếu đó là không đúng sự thật, nó vẫn là một ý nghĩ hạnh phúc
Nếu đó là không đúng sự thật, nó vẫn là một ý nghĩ hạnh phúc

from some loud red speaker

a hammer slams a baby claps to the new beat
and they cue a stream gushing down the mountainside

the Flower Mung in traditional dress
earthly colors tied neon woven in the
night of valley vestments worn proud
hanoi pink with sapa green and speck
a river blue colors of a country

sweep foot falls annoy dust
twirls clouds round ankles
a hustle of life n swing
from prismatic yarn hiding
poorly calling women who in red
shadows bordered by yelps
of bagged hogs
sing the same
you want to buy
you want to buy
you want to buy
how much you want
good luck for youg
ood luck for you
blocks stacked on crimson
linen tofu something mysterious
glittering on old wood catches
the inner child making new
from china old with young dirt
cries a toddler mid warble
please buy from me sir
buy hello you want
please buy from me sir

lovers dressed in market finery

their heart
down the hills
of their
bodies rocking in the
a calm on the



made in vietnam sir
very nice on you
good luck for you
machete chops ox leg crumbles
into a bag red manic children
yell plastic guns through strong
bamboo hacked about the cheap
silver shining shining shining

silver green with red pants with blue
green shirt red pink pants green shirt
blue yellow pants red shirt yellow pink
pants green shirt blue shirt red pink
pants orange shirt white yellow blue
pants pink shirt red orange pants
gold yellow shirt red pants and orange
shirt yellow blue pants green blue shirt
orange yellow pants red blue shirt orange
gold pants blue yellow orange pink green
shirt white pants black shirt yellow orange
blue pants orange red shirt black pants
brown orange shirt red pants pink pink
shirt yellow red brown shirt grey brown
pants red orange pants a white shirt black
birds laughing in the hills at such busyness
red pants green yellow brown shirt
red white n blue pants red yellow starred shirt
cheap silver shining shining shining

a muffler fires

like gulls frightened all stare at the
sun brown with the roads fragmented dervish
and it exhales

as a pear is sliced to the last
hours of the day falling

like the heads of old men
on the maroon corner

gentle as a broom sweep

the rush shush




gentle crunch of fabric
in the dark basket

cardboard books of trinkets
jangle sigh close

boys yawn steps

children walk stuck
in mud smiling
their predicament

fingers find partners

a buffalo parades the dirt carpet

molasses heat bows
in tandem
with the rising moon

and the dust hugs
all her makers

Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
How was my language use?
How does this theme appeal to you?
Last few words: 
Nếu đó là không đúng sự thật, nó vẫn là một ý nghĩ hạnh phúc = If it is not true, it is still a happy thought
Editing stage: 


I loved the poem didn't read all of the paragraphs preceeding it. But you have a wonderful gift with language. Very exciting to find this piece and thanx for sharing. I can't believe noone has commented on this yet.


PS: "If it is not true, it is still a happy thought" what is that a Korean proverb?

Thanx again

YIPPEE! You bring life and poetry!

Thank you.


Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you both enjoyed the work.

John - the phrase "if it is not true, it is still a happy thought" as actually a french proverb I picked up in Swann's Way by Proust. I happened to be reading it while I was in Vietnam.


J.A. Fisher

author comment

i'm so glad you included the introduction
to this style of writing as i'd not heard of it
before, and having an understanding aided

i was completely engrossed from beginning to end

from what i have read of this style,
(your intro sent me scurrying to!)
i believe you have absolutely nailed it

your write titillated the fact it was
a feast for the senses
for me, it achieves the feel of the reader
being the observer of the unfolding scenes

i came to the end, and read it again immediately...
and thought, this is a style i MUST try...

"as a pear is sliced to the last
hours of the day falling"...(SERIOUS line envy, have i)

love it


Pleiades you must tell me when you post your own regionalist poem! I'm positive it would be a joy to read! Thank you for your comment as well. It came as a panacea this morning, as the sun cut me like a knife after a sleepless night!


J.A. Fisher

author comment
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