Thursday 1 October 2020

100 Days : pretentious for National Poetry Day


I read about Ocean Vuong in the Guardian recently, though I think it was a novel review, and found his collection 'Night Sky with Exit Wounds' at the library. It is the kind of poetry to which one might attach the label 'pretentious'. It is very esoteric, personal, and uses language and metaphors in quite unique ways. There were some I did not understand and others that were very beautiful, but I give you this one, that struck me most forcefully with the images that it brings to mind, of an event that is both very familiar and very shocking (I won't try and replicate the page layout, which is something else he plays around with). 

Of Thee I Sing

We made it, baby.

We're riding in the back of the black

limousine. They have lined

the road to shout our names.

They have faith in your golden hair

& pressed grey suit.

They have a good citizen 

in me. I love my country.

I pretend nothing is wrong.

I pretend not to see the man

& his blond daughter diving

for cover, that you're not saying

my name & it's not coming out

like a slaughterhouse.

I'm not Jackie O yet

& there isn't a hole in your head, a brief

rainbow through a mist

of rust. I love my country

but who am I kidding? I'm holding

your still hot thoughts in,

darling, my sweet, sweet

Jack. I'm reaching across the trunk

for a shard of your memory,

the one where we kiss & the nation

glitters. Your slumped back.

Your hand letting go. You're all over

the seat now, deepening

my fuchsia dress. But I'm a good

citizen, surrounded by Jesus

& ambulances. I love

this country. The twisted faces.

My country. The blue sky. Black

limousine. My one white glove

glistening pink - with all

our American dreams.

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