Poetry by Bunkong Tuon

 Ars Poetica

Blood blooms in red
velvet.  The child, fascinated
with his wound, picks the scab,
web-like, brown, a foreign organism,
a small ugly planet on his knees.

 

Under the Tamarind Tree

The child sits on the lap
of his aunt, under the old tamarind tree
outside the family home. 

The tree stands still, quiet,
indifferent.  The house sways
on stilts.

Monks in saffron robes,
and nuns with shaved heads,
lips darkened with betel-nut stain,

sit chanting prayers
for the child’s mother.

Incense perfumes the hot dry air. 

There emerges a strange familiar song
between the child and his aunt that day—
a distant one, melodic but harsh,
as if the strings are drawn too tight—

Each time the child hears prayers
coming from the house, he cries;
each time he cries, the aunt, a girl herself,
pinches the boy’s thigh.   

 

 

Bunkong Tuon teaches literature and writing at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly, Ray’s Road Review, The Massachusetts Review, New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Chiron Review, The Más Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy, Toe Good Poetry, Misfit, among others. His first full-length collection,Gruel, was published by NYQ Books in 2015.