Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ode to Masturbation

Ode to Masturbation
By Ocean Vuong

Pearled semen trickles from vessel
as the silence of possibilities dries
on the floor and inside my palm.

Even now, as the body trembles
from the pleasure of its making,
somewhere, a plane
is pregnant with death.

When starlight sparkling 
on the surface of falling bombs
and flames turn muscle
into pompous, skin into ash,

the sound of a scream in mid-death,
straining to push the weight
of last words, can you blame the hand
for craving the softest parts?

Reach down, there is music
in the body, play yourself
like a lyre, insert the finger
into sanctum, feel
the quivering of crevices, skin 
palpitating ripples as if stretched
over drumbeats.

Reach down. Let explosions be muted
by climaxes, the Holy Water
between your thighs flow
into rivulets of cleansing, 
let it rinse the soil of drying blood.
Reach down, there is music
in the cunt, the cock,
the asshole. Grab your balls—
that grenade of white flowers.

Reach down as fathers destroy the sons
and daughters of other fathers,
as faces emerge from wombs
and exiled into memory.
Reach down as a thousand I love you's 
fail to reach the man caressing
the trigger's black tongue.

Because even now, in a city shimmering
from shards of broken halos, 
we are not holy, only beautiful.
Because even now as I kneel to wipe
this cooling pool of sperm,

down the hall—a man
is beating madness into a child's skull,
and not once will I ask
my unborn children
to forgive 
this hand. 

Born in 1988 in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong was raised by women (a single mother, aunts, and a grandmother) in housing projects throughout Hartford, Connecticut and received his B.A. in English Literature from Brooklyn College.

He is the author of two chapbooks: No (YesYes Books, 2013) and Burnings (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2010), which was an American Library Association's Over The Rainbow selection and has been taught widely in universities, both in America and abroad. He was the recipient of a 2013 Pushcart Prize, other honors include fellowships from Kundiman, Poets House, and the Saltonstall Foundation For the Arts, as well as an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Connecticut Poetry Society's Al Savard Award. His poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, Passages North, Guernica, The Normal School, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Best of the Net 2012 and the American Poetry Review, which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize. 


silvereagle said...

Amazing imagery in his few words. A picture painted and not with a brush.

Your series of posts here on masturbation have all been insightful and educational as well.

Continue on your good work on whatever subjects you wish!!!

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

I've really enjoyed these posts on masturbation. Keep it up! ;p

You should see Joseph Gordon-Levitt's movie Don Jon - he stars, wrote and directed it. It explores why porn and masturbation are better than real sex - and serves as proof that gay sex is so much better than straight sex. It also shows a lot of JGL 90% naked and masturbating which balances out the straight porn scenes. JGL also spends a lot of the movie trying to reconcile his (impure thoughts) actions with his religion. He's catholic and goes to confession at least 5 times and how he does his act of contrition is quite funny and enjoyable. A very good movie but one that can wait for DVD.

David Jeffreys said...

A very insightful poem that should relieve a lot of guilt, especially in this overpopulated world.

Jay M. said...

Excellent followup to the masturbation series. Thanks so much.

Peace <3

iama{GAY}tekeeper said...


Richard said...

Somehow, I don't think Joe will be teaching this poem :) Well, he did just teach it to us though, didn't he. :)