Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong
After Frank O’Hara / After Roger Reeves
Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement. Ocean,
are you listening? The most beautiful part
of your body is wherever
your mother’s shadow falls.
Here’s the house with childhood
whittled down to a single red tripwire.
Don’t worry. Just call it horizon
& you’ll never reach it.
Here’s today. Jump. I promise it’s not
a lifeboat. Here’s the man
whose arms are wide enough to gather
your leaving. & here the moment,
just after the lights go out, when you can still see
the faint torch between his legs.
How you use it again & again
to find your own hands.
You asked for a second chance
& are given a mouth to empty into.
Don’t be afraid, the gunfire
is only the sound of people
trying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,
get up. The most beautiful part of your body
is where it’s headed. & remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world. Here’s
the room with everyone in it.
Your dead friends passing
through you like wind
through a wind chime. Here’s a desk
with the gimp leg & a brick
to make it last. Yes, here’s a room
so warm & blood-close,
I swear, you will wake—
& mistake these walls
Ocean Vuong’s first full-length collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press (2016). He is also the author of two chapbooks: No (YesYes Books, 2013) and Burnings (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2010), which was an American Library Association’s Over The Rainbow selection. A 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, Ocean has received honors and awards from Poets House, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and a 2014 Pushcart Prize. His poems have been featured in Best New Poets, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, and the American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. His work has also been translated into Arabic, French, Italian, Hindi, and Spanish. Born in Saigon, Ocean currently resides in New York City.
This poem appeared in The New Yorker.