i looked for you in toul sleng
the first time i went back “home”

of course you weren’t there
amongst the photos in glass
on boards and along the wall

there was no reason to expect
that you would be, except for
the lack of witnesses at the end

i thought i would find my father’s
familial eyes staring from a face
i’d never seen, but would know

but gave up only a few boards in
when it felt like every face held
some slightly familiar feature

i walked up one aisle and down
the next in heartbreak and anger
and longing and gratitude and guilt

three weeks of travel and i’d seen
how kroursah gathered together
so many, alike and unlike

even though i could not find you
i found you just the same

new ink samples

she says i need to stop
with the 0 or 10
all or nothing
black or white
type of thinking

that i should start
exploring the in-between
pick another number
accept fractions
embrace other hues

i’ll never be comfortable
with arbitrary scales
and might take a while
to appreciate some
but i’m definitely enjoying
writing in color

not your speed

at times it seems like
you’re moving at two
vastly different speeds
but if you think about
how you’re both spinning
with the surface of this rock
hurtling around the sun
and traveling not just at
hundreds of kilometers per second
within our own galaxy
but also at the rate of
expansion of the universe
then the difference
doesn’t seem quite
so astronomical
does it?

puzzle night

there was to be no poem
no words, no paper, no pen
no ink smudged pinky

just the simple quiet of 500 pieces
forming the sunrise and shadows
of Haleakala national park

but i am so used to daily trusting
my eyes and fingers to perform
i forgot how my mind can wander

so here i am, between the borders
of smoky-purple morning haze
and blinding yellow-white sun

turning words and cardboard bits
in my mind before picking them out
and attempting to fit them together

before the alarm

i thought it would be important
to mention the sliced jalapeƱos
or the way your khmer
was accented by english
or how we were straddling
an old wooden bench beside
posters of stars and planets
and raven-shaped spaceships
but it’s not
the only thing that’s worth telling
is that i had you in my arms
and then i woke up

smoke in my eyes

the bbqs are always his idea
he starts the fire, always with
mesquite wood, then begins
the cooking, taking care to
burn the first few batches
of whatever we’re eating
then he disappears with
his overdone skewers to
laze away the afternoon
in my hammock and
i’m left to tend the rest
of the sach ko chakak
and turn the slaap mon
and whatever else we
don’t want turned
into charcoal