Ocean Vuong: Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Hardcover, 2019, Copper Canyon Press) No rating

Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times writes: “The poems in Mr. Vuong’s new collection, …

Anaphora as Coping Mechanism by Ocean Vuong

Can't sleep so you put on his grey boots—nothing else—& step inside the rain. Even though he's gone, you think, I still want to be clean. If only the rain were gasoline, your tongue a lit match, & you can change without disappearing. If only he dies the second his name becomes a tooth in your mouth. But he doesn't. He dies when they wheel him away & the priest ushers you out of the room, your palms two puddles of rain. He dies as your heart beats faster, as another war coppers the sky. He dies each night you close your eyes & hear his slow exhale. Your fist choking the dark. Your fist through the bathroom mirror. He dies at the party where everyone laughs & all you want is to go into the kitchen & make seven omelets before burning down the house. All you want is to run into the woods & beg the wolf to fuck you up. He dies when you wake & it's November forever. A Hendrix record melted on a rusted needle. He dies the morning he kisses you for two minutes too long, when he says Wait followed by I have something to say & you quickly grab your favorite pink pillow & smother him as he cries into the soft & darkening fabric. You hold still until he's very quiet, until the walls dissolve & you're both standing in the crowded train again. Look how it rocks you back & forth like a slow dance seen from the distance of years. You're still a freshman. You're still terrified of having only two hands. & he doesn't know your name yet but he smiles anyway. His teeth reflected in the window reflecting your lips as you mouth Hello—your tongue a lit match.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by  (Page 40)