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Winter 2008-2009 Edition
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Author: Ocean Vuong
Location: New York

diamond icon Ocean Vuong (and his mother) emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. in 1995. He was seven years old. He is now an undergraduate liberal arts student at Baruch College (CUNY) in New York City. Readings for his work have been conducted at the Park Slope Poetry Project in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Tending the Flowers

A hand can sweep the earth
of all its beauty, yet
can raise a daffodil
to lick the sun.

The earth outside my yard
has eaten all it could.
Flocks of missiles dive,
fresh grass splashes, soil
stains the air with blackened rain.

I listen to all of this
while stroking each petal
whose silence never fails
to exhaust the hands of clocks.

While hell unearthed itself
outside my garden, in here
these little flowers dance.
Their bodies shimmer
from the spout's gift,
each drop, a promise.

As bullets riddle calligraphy
into wooden fence,
printing warnings from
a darkness beyond the lawn,
the sun wounded by an arm of smoke
bursting from the mouths of cannons,
I kneel to tend the flowers.

Perhaps the world will stop
for just a breath
and look between the cracks.
It might see enough
and like a child
would want to try.

We'll kneel shoulder to shoulder,
turning dirt, rich
with seeds and tears.
we'll learn the secret
to the perfect rose.

ISSN 1941-0441

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