Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Night Sky with Exit Wounds Summary and Analysis of "Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong"


The poem "Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong" is the thirty-fourth poem in Ocean Vuong's Night Sky with Exit Wounds, and it is the eleventh poem of the book's third section. In it, Ocean Vuong as the speaker addresses himself, consoling himself over his own isolation, sadness, and past misfortune. He rationalizes and justifies things such as his fraught relationship with his father, his ability to find peace through sex with other men, gunfire, and loneliness. As the poem ends, the poet-speaker promises himself intimacy in the form of a room, one "so warm & blood close, / I swear, you will wake— / & mistake these walls / for skin."


The poem itself is based on "Katy" by Frank O'Hara—another famously gay poet—in which the phrases "some day I’ll love Frank O’Hara" and "I think I’ll be alone for a little while" appear. In response to O'Hara's original, then, Ocean Vuong seeks to similarly instruct himself on how to find self-love while also reckoning with his own loneliness and negative past. In the poem, this is done primarily by finding unconventional ways of resolving tensions and subverting images to create new meanings and valences.

For example, the first instance of this is when the speaker says "Don't worry. Your father is only your father / until one of you forgets." Not only does forgetting offer an unconventional form of salvation here that was earlier impossible in the collection, but by splitting the phrase at the enjambment after "father," the speaker also seems to suggest that the construction of the father itself is not as important as he perceives it to be: "Your father is only your father."

The second instance of this subversion comes when the speaker tells himself that "the most beautiful part / of your body is wherever / your mother's shadow falls." The strange contradictions inherent to the speaker's body are resolved or ignored by focusing on the origin of this body from the speaker's mother, who appears almost divine in this moment.

The third instance comes just afterward, where the speaker envisions memories of their childhood home to be "whittled down to a single red trip wire." He is able to circumvent these traumatic memories, however, through his poetic imagination and capacity to rename things. By saying "just call it horizon / & you'll never reach it," the speaker turns the trip wire into the line of horizon and finds comfort in the new environment he has created.

The fourth instance comes as the speaker imagines his lover's penis to be a "faint torch" with which he navigates the uncertain dark and finds himself.

Perhaps the most striking poetic reenvisioning comes just after, when the poet parses gunfire as "the sound of people / trying to live a little longer / & failing." Even violence, one of the things which has plagued our speaker throughout the collection, finds a new justification in life.

The speaker then re-imagines even one of his own earlier re-imaginings, focusing not on the past but rather the future: "The most beautiful part of your body / is where it's headed."

Finally, the speaker learns to cope with the ghosts of all those around him in "the room with everyone in it" by focusing on the intimacy such a setting provides. He internalizes their spirits in the room as a new kind of body, one that is sacred and warm. Thus, the poem represents an attempt by the speaker to convince himself that life is worth living, and in doing so, the poet literally rewrites his own life and re-interprets it to be so.