SPRING 2013 (Issue 78)

Ocean Vuong


The poison failed.
He kept on writhing
inside her.

His hands: white lilacs
scraping the darkening world
she carried.

When the dose doubled
the stillness
seeped from her belly

into the year.
Father lit a joint
and went out back

to slaughter
the black hen.
Rain igniting his face

like blue fire.
Rain drowning
the jasmine

where mother knelt
and begged
for his boot

when the headless thing
thrashing in red mud
wouldn't stop

raging with questions—