Ocean’s Deep: 2.30


So I am going to embark on the daunting task of posting a poem a day for National Poetry Month. Each entry will have the number of the day, followed by “30” because that is the total number of days in the month. We’ll see how this goes. Todays poem comes from a Queer Vietnamese American that many folk don’t know about here. His name is Ocean Vuong and much of his poetry holds a quiet passion, a still kind of power. Much of his poetry highlights the lived experience of the gender oppressed as well as the immigrant and Vietnamese perspective, which is something very new and very exciting to hear. As a poet, I constantly take inspiration, not only from the past, but also my contemporaries. I salute the courage, passion and strength of Vuong. This particular poem is called “The Masturbation of Men” and touches on so many levels: from talks about patriarchy and it’s effects on men to abusive house holds. Enjoy.


The Masturbation of Men

After he beat my mother,
my father went to kneel in the bathroom
until we heard his muffled cries
bellow through the walls.
And so I learned: when a man
climaxes, it is the closest thing
to surrender.

A kind of forgetting – the face
twisted in its exorcism of animal,
the body shuddering
from the shock of release.
And if this is the remedy
to our masculine miasma, then forgive

the ones who sit in blackened booths,
confessing to screens lit
with impossible bodies, forgive
the priest who remembered
to remove the rosary,

forgive also the man waiting
in shadows, his hands itching
for the curves of a body
but decides to turn home, crawl
into cold sheets and reach down
into the warm exhale of his sex.

Because the only power we really have,
is the immediacy of pleasure: to close
weary eyes, rediscover the heartbeat,
and like stupid boys, flee towards
untouchable beauty.



Sing a Black Girl’s Song: Kicking off National Poetry Month

In honor of it being National Poetry Month, I have decided to kick off the month with one of my favorite poems. “Dark Phases” by Ntozake Shange was brought back to life earlier this year with the movie “For Colored Girls” and is a rich, rich rich poem. This was my introduction to Shange’s work and I remember reading this with my mouth open. There is such beauty and truth in her words. Such power in her prose. Please enjoy:

dark phrases of womanhood
of never havin been a girl
half-notes scattered
without rhythm/ no tune
distraught laughter fallin
over a black girl’s shoulder
it’s funny/ it’s hysterical
the melody-less-ness of her dance
don’t tell nobody don’t tell a soul
she’s dancin on beer cans & shingles

this must be the spook house
another song with no singers
lyrics/no voices
& interrupted solos
unseen performances

are we ghouls?
children of horror?
the joke?

don’t tell nobody don’t tell a soul
are we animals? have we gone crazy?

i can’t hear anythin
but maddening screams
& the soft strains of death
& you promised me
you promised me…
sing a black girl’s song
bring her out
to know herself
to know you
but sing her rhythms
carin/struggle/hard times

sing her song of life
she’s been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn’t know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty
she’s half-notes scattered
without rhythm/no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
the makin of a melody
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.