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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Ocean Vuong - Almost Human

It’s been a long time since my body.
Unbearable, I put it down
on the earth the way my old man
rolled dice. It’s been a long time since
time. But I had weight back there. Had substance
& sinew, damage you could see
by looking between your hands & hearing
blood. It was called reading, they told me,
too late. But too late. I red. I made a killing
in language & was surrounded
by ghosts. I used my arsenal
of defunct verbs & broke
into a library of second chances,
the E.R. Where they bandaged
my head, even as the black words
kept seeping through,
like this. Back there, I couldn’t
get the boys to look at me
even in my best jean jacket.
It was 2006 or 1865 or .327.
What a time to be alive! they said,
this time louder, more assault rifles.
Did I tell you? I come from a people of sculptors
whose masterpiece was rubble. We
tried. Indecent, tongue-tied, bowl-cut & diabetic,
I had a feeling. The floorboards creaked
as I wept motionless by the rehab window.
If words, as they claimed, had no weight
in our world, why did we keep
sinking, Doctor—I mean
Lord—why did the water swallow
our almost human hands
as we sang? Like this.

Ocean Vuong - You Guys

brushing my teeth at 2
in the morning I say
over my shoulder
you guys you guys I’m serious
what are we going to make
of this mess my voice
muffled with wintergreen foam what
are we going to do now
that it hurts when I look
at those I love like
you two you
who have been through
so much together the thick & thin the skin
of it I’m proud of you both
I say as the foam pinkens
through my lips I’m told
our blood is green but touches the world
with endings my name a place
where I’ve waited for
collisions you guys are
you listening I’m sorry
for being useful only
in language are you still
with me I ask as I peer into the tub
where I placed them gently down
the two white rabbits
I had found on harris st the way back
from Emily’s where we watched American Dad!
on her mom’s birthday her mom
who would have been 56
this year we ate rocky road
in bowls with blue tulips
I’m too tired she said
to be this happy
& we laughed without
moving our hands perhaps
the rabbits are lovers or sisters sometimes
it’s hard to tell sex
from breathing
earlier I had scooped them
from the pavement
they were crushed but only
kinda one
had a dented half-face
the other’s back flattened like
a courage sock
I cradled them wetly
in my sweatshirt but now
the tub is a red world save for the silent
island of fur flickering
in my fugitive words guys
just wait for me alright
just wait a while longer you guys
I swear I’ll take us home I’ll
leave this place
spotless when I’m done I say
reaching back
to my wisdom teeth forgetting
it’s been 4 years
since they were gone

Ocean Vuong - Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong

After Frank O’Hara / After Roger Reeves


Ocean, don’t be afraid.

The end of the road is so far ahead

it is already behind us.

Don’t worry. Your father is only your father

until one of you forgets. Like how the spine

won’t remember its wings

no matter how many times our knees

kiss the pavement. Ocean,

are you listening? The most beautiful part

of your body is wherever

your mother’s shadow falls.

Here’s the house with childhood

whittled down to a single red tripwire.

Don’t worry. Just call it horizon

& you’ll never reach it.

Here’s today. Jump. I promise it’s not

a lifeboat. Here’s the man

whose arms are wide enough to gather

your leaving. & here the moment,

just after the lights go out, when you can still see

the faint torch between his legs.

How you use it again & again

to find your own hands.

You asked for a second chance

& are given a mouth to empty into.

Don’t be afraid, the gunfire

is only the sound of people

trying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,

get up. The most beautiful part of your body

is where it’s headed. & remember,

loneliness is still time spent

with the world. Here’s

the room with everyone in it.

Your dead friends passing

through you like wind

through a wind chime. Here’s a desk

with the gimp leg & a brick

to make it last. Yes, here’s a room

so warm & blood-close,

I swear, you will wake—

& mistake these walls

for skin.

Ocean Vuong - Scavengers

                               Your body wakes

into its quiet rattle.

                                            Ropes & ropes . . .


                   How quickly the animal


                   We’re alone again

                               with spent mouths.


Two trout gasping

                                            on a June shore.

Side by side, I see

                               what I came for, behind


your iris: a tiny mirror.

                                                         I stare

into its silver syllable

                               where a fish with my face

twitches once

                   then gones.


                                            The fisherman

                                                         suddenly a boy

with too much to carry.

Untitled (Blue, Green, & Brown): oil on canvas: Mark Rothko: 1952

The TV said the planes have hit the buildings.

& I said Yes because you asked me to stay.

Maybe we pray on our knees because the lord

only listens when we're this close

to the devil.There is so much I want to tell you.

How my greatest accolade was to walk

across the Brooklyn Bridge & not think

of flight. How we live like water: touching

a new tongue with no telling

what we've been through. They say the is sky is blue

but I know it's black seen through too much air.

You will always remember what you were doing

when it hurts the most. There is so much

I want to tell you—but I only earned

one life. & I took nothing. Nothing. Like a pair of teeth

at the end. The TV kept saying The planes...

The planes...& I stood waiting in the room

made from broken mocking birds. Their wings throbbing

into four blurred walls. Only you were there.

You were the window.


Ocean Vuong - Summer Romance

In the summer, it is easy to have
the urge to catch a butterfly.

They flutter about making
acquaintances with all the strangers

while offering ripened melons
to sweeten the tongue's cracks.

But to see that fairy so frail in its flight
to believe those wings

could beat a heart to death
creeps chills as icy fruit

slips between my lips
like a smooth whisper.

Upon tasting its nectar
so cool, so satisfying

alone, the silence of a dark car
beckons the comfort of sound.

I whisper - what ifs- to an empty seat
while clutching the wheel for Fall.

That summer I caught a butterfly
and devoured bowls of melons

but out of all those lies
"I love you" was most delicious.

Ocean Vuong - A Little Closer to the Edge

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.

Ocean Vuong - On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous


Tell me it was for the hunger
& nothing less. For hunger is to give
the body what it knows

it cannot keep. That this amber light
whittled down by another war
is all that pins my hand

to your chest.


You, drowning

                    between my arms —

You, pushing your body
                    into the river
only to be left
                    with yourself —


I’ll tell you how we’re wrong enough to be forgiven. How one night, after
mother, then taking a chainsaw to the kitchen table, my father went to kneel
in the bathroom until we heard his muffled cries through the walls.
And so I learned that a man, in climax, was the closest thing
to surrender.


Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
            Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green
            in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
            mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
            like a sparrow stunned

with falling.


Dusk: a blade of honey between our shadows, draining.


I wanted to disappear — so I opened the door to a stranger’s car. He was divorced. He was still alive. He was sobbing into his hands (hands that tasted like rust). The pink breast cancer ribbon on his keychain swayed in the ignition. Don’t we touch each other just to prove we are still here? I was still here once. The moon, distant & flickering, trapped itself in beads of sweat on my neck. I let the fog spill through the cracked window & cover my fangs. When I left, the Buick kept sitting there, a dumb bull in pasture, its eyes searing my shadow onto the side of suburban houses. At home, I threw myself on the bed like a torch & watched the flames gnaw through my mother’s house until the sky appeared, bloodshot & massive. How I wanted to be that sky — to hold every flying & falling at once.


Say amen. Say amend.

Say yes. Say yes



In the shower, sweating under cold water, I scrubbed & scrubbed.


In the life before this one, you could tell
two people were in love
because when they drove the pickup
over the bridge, their wings
would grow back just in time.

Some days I am still inside the pickup.
Some days I keep waiting.


It’s not too late. Our heads haloed
            with gnats & summer too early
to leave any marks.
            Your hand under my shirt as static
intensifies on the radio.
            Your other hand pointing
your daddy’s revolver
            to the sky. Stars falling one
by one in the cross hairs.
            This means I won’t be
afraid if we’re already
            here. Already more
than skin can hold. That a body
            beside a body
must make a field
            full of ticking. That your name
is only the sound of clocks
            being set back another hour
& morning
            finds our clothes
on your mother’s front porch, shed
            like week-old lilies.