Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poem of the Week: Ocean Vuong

Kissing in Vietnamese

My grandmother kisses

as if bombs are bursting in the backyard,

where mint and jasmine lace their perfumes

through the kitchen window,

as if somewhere, a body is falling apart

and flames are making their way back

through the intricacies of a young boy’s thigh,

as if to walk out the door, your torso

would dance from exit wounds.

When my grandmother kisses, there would be

no flashy smooching, no western music

of pursed lips, she kisses as if to breathe

you inside her, nose pressed to cheek

so that your scent is relearned

and your sweat pearls into drops of gold

inside her lungs, as if while she holds you

death also, is clutching your wrist.

My grandmother kisses as if history

never ended, as if somewhere

a body is still

falling apart.

-Ocean Vuong

Used by permission.

Ocean Vuong emigrated to the U.S. in 1990 at the age of one and is currently an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College, CUNY. His poems have been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and appear or are forthcoming in the Connecticut River Review, North Central Review, PANK, and Asian American Poetry among others. He enjoys practicing Zen Meditation and lives with an 84 year old roommate in Brooklyn, NY.

Vuong appeared on the panel Children of Warriors: Inheriting War Anthology Reading during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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