Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 300,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

Tell Me Something Good

About this Poem 

“I think when I write, I often write to the terrified versions of myself—which, for whatever reason, makes me think of fire escapes. What if a poem was all fire escape—and no building, all bones for departure? Maybe this poem is a fire escape. Maybe some fire escapes are carried inside us.”
Ocean Vuong

Tell Me Something Good

Ocean Vuong

You are standing in the minefield again.
Someone who is dead now

told you it is where you will learn
to dance. Snow on your lips like a salted

cut, you leap between your deaths, black as god’s
periods. Your arms cleaving little wounds

in the wind. You are something made. Then made
to survive, which means you are somebody’s

son. Which means if you open your eyes, you’ll be back
in that house, beneath a blanket printed with yellow sailboats.

Your mother’s boyfriend, his bald head ringed with red
hair, like a planet on fire, kneeling

by your bed again. Air of whiskey & crushed
Oreos. Snow falling through the window: ash returned

from a failed fable. His spilled-ink hand
on your chest. & you keep dancing inside the minefield—

motionless. The curtains fluttering. Honeyed light
beneath the door. His breath. His wet blue face: earth

spinning in no one’s orbit. & you want someone to say Hey…           Hey
I think your dancing is gorgeous. A little waltz to die for,

darling. You want someone to say all this
is long ago. That one night, very soon, you’ll pack a bag

with your favorite paperback & your mother’s .45,
that the surest shelter was always the thoughts

above your head. That it’s fair—it has to be—
how our hands hurt us, then give us

the world. How you can love the world
until there’s nothing left to love

but yourself. Then you can stop.
Then you can walk away—back into the fog

-walled minefield, where the vein in your neck adores you
to zero. You can walk away. You can be nothing

& still breathing. Believe me.

Copyright © 2015 by Ocean Vuong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets

Copyright © 2015 by Ocean Vuong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets

previous poems

date title authorsort ascending
January 23, 2011 Sitalkas H. D.
July 05, 2015 Sea Poppies H. D.
December 07, 2012 Lais H. D.
November 22, 2014 Pursuit H. D.
June 14, 2010 Freud James Cummins
May 03, 2010 9. E. E. Cummings
June 21, 2015 my father moved through dooms of love E. E. Cummings
March 30, 2014 I Have a Rendezvous With Life Countee Cullen
June 10, 2009 Monument Brian Culhane
March 05, 2015 Guidebooks for the Dead Cynthia Cruz

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