Rae A


Phnom Penh

April 11, 2018

PROMPT: Place Poem

Once called pearl of asia, millions of faces,
blurs of sharp edges and rounded cheeks:
the smell of smoke and dust and lung cancer,

hot and sticky air that clings like caramel,
too sweet and cloying and humid,
wading through a pool of molasses,

the scent of motor exhaust, rotting meat
with flies settling about it,
and the oil from the mee cha stands

that dot the side of the road,
constellations of dense grease and full stomachs,
a dead rat in the middle of the road,

struck with a motorcycle on a quest for food,
a faint reminder of mortality,
- we're all glad it's dead-

the coconut trees in our yard,
'the largest green space in Bong Toumpoung",
- they always rot before we can pick them.

the wedding tent blocks the main street 
to the wat, the pagoda, loudspeakers blaring,
silver and gold bananas quivering with each

bass note that the neighborhood hears.
each vehicle is on the run from sanity,
dodging and cajoling for an inch of road

and the man with the cart of grilled bananas
pauses to let a small girl holding a fish cross the street,
as the policeman stops taking bribes,

in order to help the lady with the orange cooler,
to push it up the hill leading to the main road,
and the stray dogs nearly run under their heels,

and the sky is blue if you go to the roof of the mall,
- built by Japan of course-
but in the streets it seems grey

the slate of the streets migrating,
taking up a temporary home in the sky,
draining the brash and gaudy blue,

as the woman sitting side-saddle on the moped
holding an IV pole stops- to buy a length of light blue cloth,
so the curtains can be a substitute. 



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  • April 11, 2018 - 11:24am (Now Viewing)

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  • AbigailSauble

    Great descriptions, here. =) Each line is unique! Well-done.

    over 1 year ago
  • Grace Croken

    This absolutely amazing. The way you juxtapose the seemingly normal with the deep corruption that is hidden beneath is phenomenal. So is the way you show the reader the hidden beauty while simultaneously showing them the way Phnom Penh has changed - keep writing you’re so good at it !

    over 1 year ago