Bunkong Tuon: “Lisel Mueller Died at 96”



Lisel Mueller Died at 96 
After O’Hara’s “Lana Turner Has Collapsed!”

There are papers to grade
& classes to prepare
and they continue to pile up
high over my head as
I drink coffee and scroll
through Twitter and Facebook.
Oh no, Lisel Mueller’s passed away
this past Friday! The poet
who escaped the Nazis and found
a new language for her voice.
The poet who gave me permission
to put “grief in the mouth of language”
without embarrassment or shame.
Oh, I’m ashamed it’s taking me
this long to grade these papers.
My four-year-old is yanking
at my arm, “I’m the daddy
and you can be my boy daughter.”
“And what’s a boy daughter?”
I ask. And she says, “Silly Daddy.
That’s when you’re born a boy
but you’re actually a girl.”
So we play while the papers
pile high and Lisel Mueller’s poetry
is shared and loved all over again.
And isn’t that what all of us
(refugees and non-refugees alike)
want from this precious world?


About the Author: Bunkong Tuon is a Cambodian-American writer and critic. He is the author of Gruel, And So I Was Blessed (both published by NYQ Books), The Doctor Will Fix It (Shabda Press), and Dead Tongue (a chapbook with Joanna C. Valente, Yes Poetry). He teaches at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. He tweets @BunkongTuon


More By Bunkong Tuon:

Gender Danger

Lies I Told About Father

Fishing for Trey Platoo


Image Credit: James Abbott McNeil Whistler “Nocturne in Black and Gold The Falling Rocket” (c. 1874 – 1875) Public Domain

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