Editors Note: As any poet worth they salt knows sometimes when you're doing a 30/30 life gets in the way. Our esteemed scribe has been driving a group of unruly undergrads across country and so we've been without his glorious voice for a few days. But Danez is back like the (actual) Harlem Shake. We'll post a few a day to catch up. Keep reading. Let's get it. -Nate Marshall,
Asst. Poetry Editor, Muzzle
“I realize: I do not need the moon
to dance in darkness.
Skin absorbed sunlight
and held it, so this ribbon of climax
can exert its faint glow—just enough
to make visible
the iris of your eyes.”
Ocean Vuong makes me question whether or not my bones exist. I read his work (Go check out Burning) and all of a sudden I’m on the floor, unsure of how I got there, but certain of what sent me. Like my failed bones, Ocean’s work seeks to take that which is hard, be it sex, family, violence, war, immigration, and show the soft meat of it. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t acknowledge that which is unbreakable or resistant, but he was a talent of cracking open any steel exterior and showing us the gentle dust inside. Ocean lives us to his namesake. He is vast, he is deep, he is blue (in a happy, blue bird way, a pining for sex way, a lady sings the blues way, all the blues), he is filled with so many things we know by name which we adore and fear, but the depths of him are filled with mystery after mystery, some with brilliant light, some with teeth. Ocean brings me life. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a voice like his, so free even within the confines of his world. His world sings with images both surprising and surprisingly real. There are moments when I feel transported to another realm, a place so new it does not yet have a name, while there are other times when I am suddenly fully aware of the room I’m in, the people around & not around, my blood, my skin, the little drum that dares to beat in me. Damn you Ocean. Damn you for knowing the tender side of a fist, the need to need, the horror and wonder of leaving. Damn you for knowing the exact string to pull, the precise note to hit in order to summon tears, moans, and joy. Everybody, if you don’t already know, I give you an Ocean to live by. In return, give your bones over to Ocean.