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
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