My Father Writes from Prison

by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong

Em khoe khong? Gio em dang o dau? Anh nho em va con qua. Hon nua & there are things / I can say only in the dark / how one spring / I crushed a monarch midflight / just to know how it felt / to have something change / in my hands / here are those hands / some nights they waken when touched / by music or rather the drops of rain / memory erases into music / hands reaching for the scent of lilacs / in the moss-covered temple a shard / of dawn in the eye of a dead / rat your voice on the verge of / my hands that pressed the 9mm to the boy's twitching cheek I was 22 the chamber / empty I didn't know / how easy it was / to be gone these hands / that dragged the saw through bluest 4 a.m. / cricket screams the kapok's bark spitting / in our eyes until one or two collapsed / the saw lodged in blue dark until one or three / started to run from their country into / their country / the ak-47 the lord whose voice will stop / the lilac / how to close the lilac / that opens daily from my window / there's a lighthouse / some nights you are the light house / some nights the sea / what this means is that I don't know / desire other than the need / to be shattered & rebuilt / the mind forgetting / the body's crime of living / again dear Lan or / Lan oi what does it matter / there's a man in the next cell who begs / nightly for his mother's breast / a single drop / I think my eyes are like his / watching the night bleed through / the lighthouse night that cracked mask / I wear after too many rifle blows / Lan oi! Lan oi! Lan oi! / I'm so hungry / a bowl of rice / a cup of you / a single drop / my clock-worn girl / my echo trapped in '88 / the cell's too cold tonight & there are things / I can say only when the monarchs / no longer come / with wings scraping against the p*ss-slick floor for fragments of a / phantom woman I push my face / against a window the size of your palm where / beyond the shore / a grey dawn lifts the hem of your purple dress / & I ignite.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Last updated February 24, 2023