On the screen, an old man is dying in his bed. / The adults are talking / loudly, two feet away from each other. / From their voices, I can tell their hatred / for that old man, a thin blanket to his chin.
The Death of Pol Pot
My mother shoos us away
but I listen by the door.
There are rumors of a black snake
in the basement. It is 1998.
The adults watch the news upstairs.
On the screen, an old man is dying in his bed.
The adults are talking
loudly, two feet away from each other.
From their voices, I can tell their hatred
for that old man, a thin blanket to his chin.
I crawl out of a giant steaming pot
snickering to my brother.
He always plays the victim.
I love to do the evil laugh.
My brother stumbles into a tent
made from plastic chairs and a faux-fur blanket.
Nobody knows I am the villain
because when I snap my fingers
I turn into a teacup
or a wooden chair painted red.
The Death of Henry Kissinger
Bubbles children blow toward the sky
burst bombs into jasmine.
Anything that flies on anything that moves.
You got that? Got that. Roger that.
And a mother’s golden lotus bud
orbiting her daughter’s neck?
Perhaps a giant kite to block B-52s?
Balloons from my birthday party
to bring on your jets? Go ahead.
I dare you to send submarines too.
To add: Anything that swims. Your idea
of swimming is not dreaming is not flight.
But in Takeo, at the edge of the forest,
if a spot-billed duck were to lay an egg.
Well. It would be bad for you.
Do you copy? Do you read me?
Blue, specked egg. Rebirth as revenge.
It’s an order. It’s to be done. Over. And out.
Monica Sok, “The Death of Pol Pot,” “The Death of Henry Kissinger,” from A Nail the Evening Hangs On. Copyright © 2020 by Monica Sok. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of the author and Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.