Bunkong Tuon

Moon in Khmer

You are light
when the sun is punched out
and darkness reigns.
You are the antidote
to what came before:
black blood, black heart,
hands tied, kneeling before
a ditch of human bones.
Your laughter pierces
the silence of night
that bore witness
to the once blood-soaked land.
Your existence is resistance
to the genocide that orphaned
your father and drove
his family out of the homeland.
You are love against
the hate of the Khmer Rouge.
This is the meaning
of your name, Chanda.
This is how to defeat Pol Pot.



Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (NYQ Books, 2015), And So I Was Blessed (NYQ Books, 2017), and Dead Tongue (with Joanna C. Valente, forthcoming from Yes Poetry), as well as a contributor to Cultural Weekly. Nominated for the Pushcart numerous times, his poetry recently won the 2019 Nasiona Nonfiction Poetry Prize. He has completed a book of poems about raising his daughter in contemporary America. He teaches at Union College in Schenectady, NY.