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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Tyrant of Words
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Poetry Contest

The Classic Corner : Ocean Vuong tribute

Co-Hosts - Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze  

Part XXXII in an ongoing series introducing serious writers of DUP to the most well-known poets, both classical and modern. 

Ocean Vuong ( born Vương Quốc Vinh October 14, 1988 ) is a Vietnamese American poet, essayist and novelist. He is a recipient of the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a 2016 Whiting Award, and the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize for his poetry. His debut novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, was published in 2019. He received a MacArthur Grant the same year.

His grandmother grew up in the countryside while his grandfather was a white American soldier in the Navy originally from Michigan. Vuong, who is openly gay, describes himself as being raised by women after his father abandoned the family.

His mother, a manicurist, renamed him "Ocean", which largely came about after her difficulty pronouncing the word "Beach" without it sounding like "Bitch".  

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst.

For more information regarding Vuong, please visit the Poetry Foundation:

Vuong also has a website:



Write a new Poem honoring Vuong inspired by any one of his poems.

While you are allowed a maximum of 2 entries, only the best of your entries is considered viable for the trophy.

Do your best to make us feel as though we are reading poems by Vuong.  The more we feel you "capturing his essence" in "your own words" , the higher you will score. This will involve choice of wording, delivery, subject material, formatting, target audience - a wide range of factors.   

The Rules 

1. Two entries per DUP persona.

2. No erotica; this is open to all ages and can't be viewed with an ECW ( Extreme Content Warning ).   

3. No exact word limit; however, attempt to keep it no more than 250 - 300 ( UNLESS the inspirational poem is longer ).

4. Any form is acceptable ( but studying the poet is advised ). This includes visual and spoken word pieces.  

5. You must tag your entries with the theme #OceanVuong before this comp expires in order to qualify for the trophy ( if the theme is not currently available, you may have to return at a later date to add the theme ).

6. In your poem's Author Notes box, provide a link and a title to the very poem by Vuong that inspired yours. Without such, we have no way of determining if you were truly inspired by Vuong or simply swapped fresh words into his existing poetry ( which is a form of plagiarism ). This is a requirement regardless if you include a copy of the inspiration poem along with your entry.

Comp will be judged by Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze. As in the past and in the event there is a tie, we will call in third ( and possibly fourth ) judge.

You have one month; best of luck to all entrants!

Fire of Insight
United States
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It was White

  A white ...    A white ...    I’m dreaming of a curtain of snow
                                                         falling from her shoulders.
Snow crackling against the window. Snow shredded
                                           with gunfire. Red sky.
Ocean Vuong
Aubade with Burning City  
      There lay war.    Tyranny’s serial  
Killer... heat abroad  
The moon was white  
                        Degrees of yellow
    White lines laced with bliss ... much ado without implication
He ate the meat as if
A canine without teeth ... and she  
              tossed her smile carelessly  
She held a sparrow in the palm of her gentle  
               White... and trembling hand...  
   White and trembling
She ate a plum and let the juices run...
           Ran down her chin upturned ...  
run down it  
And dripped red juices to the floor....  
Let it drip                and he lapped like a dog  
As on airways nostalgia comforted  
         On all fours he licked red drops  
And once over  
            He would forever be.  
Reduced to that taste....  
                     And in torture....  
his mind in torture
Wind whips the sparrow lost...  
she mourns her seat  
                                       Of an un gloved  
Pearl white hand
Un gloved and so delicate there....  
The morning makes it hard to build a nest
Written by Calamityofgin
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Fire of Insight
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Ocean Vuong  -  Kissing in Vietnamese...

I wake up to the sound of the devil
laughing and hurling death to the
corners of my room. I scream for my family.  
I’m forced to observe normalcy  
through a fractured pane that used  
to be a window. My grandmother  
reaches out from the world of torment,  
her arms bleeding, her heart broken.  
I long for the comfort of old when her  
embrace eased my pain which she  
absorbed to herself. A bubble formed  
protecting me from the violence and  
horrors of dying cries and limbs in trees,  
from the smell of napalm and burning flesh.  
My mind sees the mayhem and carnage  
but my heart, though bleeding, feels her  
touch and brings me back to that feeling of love.
Written by anvinvil (Anvillan)
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Tyrant of Words
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A big Thanks to the Webmiss for creating the Themes #OceanVuong and #GwendolynBrooks ! Please be sure to tag your entries per the guidelines to better your chances of placement in the judging process!

Tyrant of Words
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[ Classic Corner ] Gay Say

Because I said so!
And I know  
because is not  
an answer
I honestly don't  
have anyway,
but what else
is there to say
in its stead?
That maurading  
Murder Hornet  
effects done decapitated  
thoraxed solar plexus
causes from my  
prevailing cooler head?
Found out the hard
exoskeletoned way
I couldn't bee  
anything more than  
a hive of one
fun guy loving
guy on guy
Not long meant  
for this world of
Queen ass kissing
servitude, I was.
After I tasted  
tabooness of drone
honey, It was too late!
Baby, I was long  
gone, Gone, GONE  
---an outcasted
expiation; atonement
expelled from Colony's
status quo lungs
like so much
Ho Chi Minh  
city sin
fem phlegm.  
Well, Tạm biệt,
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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non-entry entry

Fire of Insight
United Kingdom
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Three quarter moon

It's full to be achieved- brashness  
some craters still concealed  
in life we weave, sun shine upon our seed
as a parent seeks affection
all gleam without the dark
pit's and imperfection
the rind upon the pork  
decadence, fatherhood, light the road
 reflect on all that's loss
 wishes; hold such scant regard  
a child's first cry  slit between the curtains
moonbeams refreshment, afterbirth covered- falling on chaos
cradled sweet perfection and argument rages to call a spade a spade
the cherub that was laid. hurled pot of supplication  
the breast and nipple bleed  
domestic conflict drown! duvet drawn in self defence
monosyllables;  the rays of eloquence!
 small flicker, a prayer to heaven precede
three quarter moon, a tarnished silver spoon
waxing, the glory of conception
wind in the trees that shudders
eyes. roller blinds closing,  aftermath
fondling- white chalk, loves ghost
 locket strands -wisp's of autumn
the breezed caress,  buttocks mounds
 reside in indentation
yearning's reach, fathomless
dark quarter, unseen, obscured  
passion:  starve or gorge
Jack rabbit goes to ground
 The hemispheres turn on
#on earth we were briefly gorgeous  
Written by slipalong
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Fire of Insight
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On Earth  We Are Briefly Gorgeous....  Ocean Vuong intpretation

My spirit wonders, yearns
a quest without a destination,
a trip without a map,
clouds block the stars,
the moon hides.

I survive on my loneliness
my pity is fed by my needs,
the need to feel, the need to know.
I’ll drag myself to the forge,
I will hammer out a creation,
perhaps, ever becoming, with
each blow of the hammer.
The anvil will sing the story
of my efforts and the stars
will hear and the clouds
will part.

From the fire of the forge,
from the agony of my soul comes
my creation unique to all.
To me, another pilgrim, wandering
searching for the non existent.
What have I done?
I’m swept with a wave of regret
and bashed against the
rocks of doubt. I bleed, I scream,
I ask why... the moon peeks out
from behind the clouds and answers,
“ you didn’t want to be alone”.

Written by anvinvil (Anvillan)
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Fire of Insight
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my disease was loneliness
bubbling up from
a chasm tucked under the ribs

a skeletal soul


draped across the wire
as though waiting for redemption

still, the angels
did their best for me

   circling my boat

keeping me anchored

praying the gods to blow their storms
           to distant places
where harder faces bore their wrath,
fought the good fight
and took their losses

mike and phillip
luke and lisa
all broken by circumstance
ruined or dead
and me left here
to wonder
Written by javalini
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Tyrant of Words
United States
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Words like Chopper Blades

( After Ocean Vuong, and my father )    
. . .once [ the war ] enters you,    
it never leaves—but merely echoes. . .*
The war is never over for a soldier.**    
Vietnam, 1957    
Your eyes, still echoing wide with boy    
at 17, resonating violently inside    
their soft-shelled socket, your    
tripwire tongue severing a moan    
buried in her cartilage'd throat, waiting    
to explode as a Bouncing Betty     
above the surface. Prostitution, makeshift    
war-wife, Lucky Strikes, napalm    
mornings, spreading like olive thighs    
over stained linen, choking the reality    
of back-home family, gestating as seeds    
to sprout normalcy.  Lien, her name    
pronounced Lynn—my elder sister's namesake    
as dictated in your letter. O Father—    
your words like chopper blades—machetes    
through the jungle of my mother's heart    
years beyond Lynn's tragic death—    
another casualty of war ingested by earth.    
While today, sewn somewhere in the cusp    
of a country embattled by loss, lives you    
O Brother—a mere egg that fought as a soldier    
to be born—to flower from death as color;    
your eyes, wide with boy—or, perhaps not;    
O Brother, the war entered us both    
through our father's sperm, and will echo    
until one of us releases their ghosts—    
which one remains unknown—maybe    
I am already alone, waiting to join you all;    
a soul-family of gestated seeds sprouting    
normalcy in rich orchards of ripened love    
* Ocean Vuong    
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous    
** My Father    
Post Vietnam war
Written by Ahavati
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Dangerous Mind
United States
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Beautiful Memories (Ocean Vuong Tribute)

I see the lust and hunger in your eyes,
green like the meadows we spend our
summers trampling through as children.

Home… Who would have thought we
would come back to the place where we
began and started. Memories filter in like
all the times we sat on the front porch
waiting and watching. Or when we laid
down on the soft grass and we would
see the stars shatter and break like
bullets going straight for the heart.

Did you know how many times I saw
you cry and how I wished I could do
something about it? I never saw such
beauty until I saw you pray for miracles
in the middle of every disaster you faced.

I wish we could go back to where we were
most beautiful with your hair as a tangled
mess and feeling your heat through my shirt.

Your heartbeat was my favorite sound as
the silence was so loud. Your feet on the
dashboard as we would follow the moon
everywhere. Your laughter and meaningful
conversations that kept us up all night until
we saw the sunlight bleeding on the horizon.

I never knew love until I saw your eyes
change from lust and hunger to love and
adventure. I wanted to spend all my days
with you by my side as the world has so
much beauty. In between your fingertips
I see the real you that no one else knows.

So let me know you as beautiful and
imperfect. Sunshine and rain. Whole
and incomplete like a puzzle. Autumn
and winter. Spring and summer. I just
want to know what you would look like
with wrinkles yet still having that sparkle
in your eyes like you never truly aged
at all. I would love you even more.
Written by eswaller
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Tyrant of Words
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Bumping this to let everyone know that the guidelines of our CCComps have been updated. Please review them to ensure you are familiar with what is and isn't allowed, as well as what is necessary to qualify for the Trophee or placements.

Tyrant of Words
United States
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Vuong makes the headlines; think of this as poetry in a Time Capsule.


Tyrant of Words
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Fire of Insight
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For What It's Worth They Were Briefly Gorgeous

Perks of youth. If only I had  
sense enough to take a picture---  
they'd have lasted longer. I came in  
all sMiley C's like a pair of wrecking  
balls. Nursing and gravity ruled  
the ring in a tag-team knocked-up  
dragged-out fight-clubbing. Swing  
away at these speed bags?  
Count. me. out.  

Written by MaryWalker
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non-entry entry

Dangerous Mind
United States
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Aubade With Burning City (No Exit)

' How something that lives only to fall can be nothing but sweet'
                                                  - Ocean Vuong

Say exit, and I won't look down.
Say we will all fall together, laughing.
Say this is a dream that we will wake up from,
never intending this, never walking toward it.

Falling, falling
drifting like snow does in sideways patterns
with random destinations, unknown, unpredicted --
these are the remaining pieces of a way of life.

I was with you before all this
and in the wake of yesterday before it began to snow.
We never imagined how things could change
in instants of terror.

Everything fell in tiny droplets;
words, letters, minutiae,
it was like a grey Christmas except in reverse --
We fell, us.
The gifts stayed behind and burned into a cloud of dust

The streets are empty
and we are on the verge of something like a New Year.
We can rise like the dust of this city after it fell,
we can be as high as its wounded ghost
or a great falling star.

Be my night sky, I'll be yours; the backdrop to our playground.
It went silent after shrilly crying for everyone's mother
to return looking for us, for it,
not looking up as it met their bare skin.

Just hold my hand, don't look down.
I won't jump, if you will.

Written by PoetsRevenge
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