Three Poems by Bunkong Tuon


Three Poems

By Bunkong Tuon



Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a series of poems about the immigrant experience in America. Our late Managing Editor, Okla Elliott, featured Bunkong Tuon’s work on As It Ought To Be back in January of 2017. Okla was particularly concerned about the anti-immigration rhetoric heating up in America and he hoped to showcase the voices of immigrants on our site. In honor of Okla’s memory, Tuon has allowed us to feature more of his poetry about his experience as an immigrant from Cambodia to the United States. The full series of links can be found below.



Snow Day

Silent as night

the morning snow covered

the school, the playground.

A ghost town in this city near the beach.
But no one told this refugee child
about such a day. No one said

to turn on the TV. No one called.

He walked in the white field

looking up to the sky, raising his hands,
letting his brown body fall backward
into the white landscape.

His eyes closed,

each flake gently caressing

his cheeks.



An Elegy for a Fellow Cambodian

The reason Vannark got into that fight

  was because Rob had called him a dog-eater.



Halloween, 1985

The saliva on your face
(for all the world to see!).

A lifetime of desire, a daily prayer
for death, a return to the beginning,
a place of warmth and affection,

a desire to be with Mother.



About the Author: Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (2015) and And So I Was Blessed (2017), both poetry collections published by NYQ Books, and a regular contributor to Cultural Weekly  He is also an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.



Previous poems from Bunkong Tuon’s series on the immigrant experience in America:

Our Neighborhood in Revere, MA

Snow Day

An Elegy for a Fellow Cambodian

Halloween, 1985

Dancing Fu Manchu Master

Fishing for Trey Platoo

Lies I Told About Father


Image Credit: “Snow on Fence” Artist: Unknown, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

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