What Is Left

Bunkong Tuon

“With stirring clarity, modesty, and understatement, Tuon shares the feeling of what it must have been like at one end and what words can light up the next mystery. Most of all, he finds a place for himself under the law of love, its duties and deferrals to the other, its sanctifying power.  In images that will last, the poems reimagine personal experience as our most civilizing act.”

David Rigsbee, curator Greatest Hits series.

What Is Left 

What is left after war is the gratitude for what is left.
My dreams are filled with ghosts looking for home.
The dead speak to the living through my poetry.
Each time I write, I rebuild. Retrieve what was stolen.

Nothing is dead until I let it. English is not the language
Of my birth. It is the language of death. More bombs
Dropped on Cambodia’s countryside than in Hiroshima
And Nagasaki. I was bombarded by this language.

I had no choice but to use it. I stand on the precipice
Listening. Ghosts are ancestors asking for light.
I holler to celebrate the dead and the living.
Lok-Yeay and Lok-Ta, Pok and Mak, Pu and Meang,

Oum, your tongues are my tongue, and we are telling.
What is left after war is the gratitude for what is left.

$14 – ISBN 978-0-936481-56-2