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


i found a new krama
in a bag beneath old shirts

a souvenir from my first trip
to cambodia over ten years ago

the edges are fringed
with unfinished threads

that i know will unravel
until they twist and tangle

so i tie a series of knots
and pretend that is better

tmnt flashback

it was the flash of color
that caught my attention

after riding miles alongside
a dull murky brown creek
running just beyond some
brown dirt dusted plants
growing on the side of a
dry bumpy brown dirt road
i made her stop the moto
so i could take a picture

it was probably algae or
the tiny leaves of some
freshwater plant
just doing its part to
purify the brown water
i never got close enough
to know for sure

what i do know is
a decade after i’d last watched
an episode of teenage mutant ninja turtles
my first thought at seeing
flourescent green
in a creek
in cambodia
was “ooze”

i was not expecting that


bokor national park has
a resort at its summit now
a casino, restaurant and
four-hundred-room hotel
located at the end of a paved road
that takes less than an hour to travel
from entrance to mountain plateau
and is traversed twice daily by buses
from both phnom penh
and kampong saom

ten years ago
the only shelter
were tents brought by campers
or bunk beds in a
dilapidated rangers station
the only food
cup noodles sold by those rangers
to young travelers naive enough
to venture into the wilds with only
oranges, candy, and pringles
and the drive up
took two hours
on a road returned to dirt and gravel
where the frequent stops
to navigate around fallen trees or
to take photos of colorful flowers or
to gather giant seed pods
were just as memorable
as the views from the top
of low lying clouds
verdant valleys
and clear coastlines

i’m glad we went there
on my cousin’s whim
a car full of teens
and twenty-somethings
drawn by rumors
of an active casino
that turned out to be
a haunting rust and black stained
shell of a building
standing in a sea of knee-high grass
and by promises
of local delicacies
that ended up being served
after a three minute wait
in paper cups, but with a view
of the gulf of thailand

i’m glad i went there expecting
the amenities of a resort
but left, having experienced
the stark beauty of land
reclaimed by nature