Ocean Vuong

Great Writers

Headshot of poet Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong, is a Vietnamese-American poet, essayist, and novelist, whose haunting and abstract style of poetry has brought him numerous awards, including a 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Whiting Award. Vuong is the author of the poetry collection, Time is a Mother (2022); The New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (2019); and the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (2016). Vuong was born in Saigon in 1988 and raised in Hartford, CT. He is a professor in the MFA program at New York University.

A Little Closer to the Edge

By Ocean Vuong
Young enough to believe nothing
will change them, they step, hand-in-hand,
into the bomb crater. The night full
of  black teeth. His faux Rolex, weeks
from shattering against her cheek, now dims
like a miniature moon behind her hair.
In this version the snake is headless — stilled
like a cord unraveled from the lovers’ ankles.
He lifts her white cotton skirt, revealing
another hour. His hand. His hands. The syllables
inside them. O father, O foreshadow, press
into her — as the field shreds itself
with cricket cries. Show me how ruin makes a home
out of  hip bones. O mother,
O minutehand, teach me
how to hold a man the way thirst
holds water. Let every river envy
our mouths. Let every kiss hit the body
like a season. Where apples thunder
the earth with red hooves. & I am your son.

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[Photo credit: Tom Hines]


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