Poetry / February 2010 (Issue 10)


by Ocean Vuong

We have lied to the ones we love.
You were to be at Bible Study
and I, out with the woman
I can’t find a name for. Instead,
we swallow each other’s breaths
in a room rented by the hour.

Behind these walls, we are allowed
to be no one, and it's easy
to dive into sheets that reek
of urine, the sweat of whores,
our shoulders wrapped
in printed roses, eaten through
by cigarettes.

The bed grows from a shudder
to a drumbeat, and soon
we are two men with not enough bodies
to abandon, tearing at flesh
for the exit of climax.
Pleasure is something else.
We are starving.

When the last exhalations fade,
through with desire, we dress
in silence, say the awkward farewells.
You clutch your father's bible.
I smear my neck with lipstick.
Our bodies growing smaller
from one another as we step back
into the night, into the lives of men
we no longer know.

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