Builds a small fire on the helipad
to burn away what he’s feeling inside.
What is war but a world on fire?
The artillery rounds burst like lightning.
No one picks up the telephone.
His friends are still over there fighting.
It’s all absurd as a Beckett play:
to order a cheeseburger and fries at a McDonald’s
knowing what he knows, a horror film running
in a screaming loop in his mind.
And the mind doesn’t shut off and it only remembers
mutilations, dead children,
cries that become a quiet cluster bomb,
the bad stuff that makes one a true believer
in the rotten flesh, bones as white as snow,
blood as red as a little red bird in his chest,
so pure and honest it’s more than anyone can bear.
When the police arrive all they see
is the brown man doing brown things,
an illegal immigrant burning down
America from the grounds up.
Not once someone says,
Buddy, are you okay?
Let me buy you coffee.
ICE almost deported a US-born Marine, says ACLU [NBC News]
ACLU says records show racial profiling, mocking of Marine detained by ICE [NBC News]
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 is associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College in Schenectady, NY.