Two Poems by Bunkong Tuon

IceFloe Press

Not Everything is About Racism


My friends say, it’s all in your head.
I tell them about Halloween ’85.
A bunch of kids cornered me,
kicked me around like hacky sack
and spat at me when done.
The hot streak of saliva still burns,
I say. And they say,
That’s just kids being kids.
I tell them about the teacher
who said I was a disappointment
to my people.
I was failing classes after
a letter from Cambodia announced
my father’s death.
My friends say, Some teachers are
plain ignoramus.
You’ve got to be more positive.
Change your attitude.

I think about their small high schools
where teachers
showed them how to argue in circles,
gaslight an opponent.
I tell them so,
and they come back with,
This is America.
It doesn’t matter where you go
to school. You can make something
of yourself through hard work.
Go to the…

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