Thursday, January 8, 2015

Analysis of "DetoNation" by Oceon Vuong

Poem found here: "DetoNation" by Oceon Vuong


The poem starts off with a linguistic pun -- detonation as the explosion, and the focus on "Deto" and then "Nation."  Could this be a overly political poem?  A poem that's too on the nose? It seems to start that way, but the shift of subject is set up with the first couplet, "There's a joke that ends with--huh? / It's the bomb saying here is your father" a joke told with the punchline first, and the punchline is a "bomb" saying "here is your father."  So the question is what is the focus: the bomb or the saying?

The poem has a sense of repetition throughout, but starts with the saying as though to emphasize what has happened, "Now here is your father inside / your longs.  Look how lighter / the earth is -- afterward."  Yes, the focus on "afterward" might overly state the regret in the line, but the poem is transitioning and coming back to this over-encompassing feeling and the word "father" that the poem feels like it's trying to catch up with itself.

"To even write the word father / is to carve a portion of the day / out of a bomb-bright page"  Note the simple task of writing a word expands outward in terms of metaphor and meaning and goes back to the idea of "bomb" -- but note the idea of "light" and "bright" as though to blind and lift continues -- the two "bomb" and "father" are becoming more the same due to definition and repetition.

"There's enough light to drown in / but never enough to enter the bones / & stay."  The drop off line with the ampersand comes a bit unexpected since I'm expecting a twist to the line, and it does come with "stay" but  there's something subtle about the "stay" -- the word elicits, to me, what the speaker wants rather what is described or an exercise in word play.  The light should stay, should it?

"Don't stay here, he said, my boy / broken by the names of flowers.  Don't cry / anymore."  And the idea of staying ties back to the father -- the bomb, the light, the father.  The father asking his son not to stay.  The names of flowers seems like a good line, but I don't know where it ties back to.

"So I ran into the night. / The night: my shadow growing / toward my father."  This is the first action deliberately tied to the speaker -- running away.  So the ideas of staying is then applied to him -- as a want perhaps? or an afterward?  But here when the speaker runs away his "shadow" (maybe in the Jungian sense) goes toward the father, just like the poem.

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