Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (2015) and And So I Was Blessed (2017), both poetry collections published by NYQ Books. He is also an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.
(Previously published in The New Verse News)
Here, in the Northeast,
There is snow on the frozen ground.
Birds are flying from the South,
Crying madly in the mourning sky.
A man with a gun is hunting them.
The branches shake against
My bedroom window.
Their song is plaintive,
Sad, and urgent.
My glass window will shatter
If nothing is to be done.
They sing about a teacher
Crouching in the broom closet
With her high school students.
A survivor says afterward,
“First we thought it was firecrackers.
Then my friends fell down,
One by one.”
They sing about the adults
Behaving like children,
Taking no responsibility
To protect the young.
They sing about the children
Acting like adults
Marching to that great mansion,
Lying on cold concrete,
Eyes closed. Some held hands,
Others with hands over their chests,
As if caught dead in prayer.
(previously published in Gruel)
I was at work when it hit:
a simple downpour, yet mysterious
somehow, waking us to an old world
where our ancestors, tadpoles
swam in the murky bottom.
My wife called. “The storm
took out the electricity.
Verizon said that they can’t send
someone over ‘til next Monday.”
There was silence on both ends.
Over the years, she had learned to live
with my towels all over the place.
Over the years, I had accepted how
she organized our lives with a daily planner.
Quickly as it started, the storm left us.
We’d made it through the big stuff:
cultural differences, dissertation
defenses, tenure reviews,
A weekend together,
really together, where we eat
across the table from one another,
conversing on this or that
as if we were on our first date?
God help us.