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‘Children are playing soldier. / Fetuses ripped from wombs dangle / in nearby trees. Yet he opened his mouth / and a flood of love melodies poured out.’

By Sokunthary Svay

i.

Sinn Sisamouth, Khmer poster boy
resonating tenor of every residence
off rooftops     on radios
a voice that chilled and warmed

Beloved, iconic face
decapitated    pasted over bodies in posters

ii.
My father is lost at Gun Hill Road in the Bronx.
A voice interrupts my daze
sprays 60’s surf rock from the dashboard,
a Cambodian riding the radio waves.

Honey, this was the most famous singer in Cambodia.

iii.
Post-exodus Cambodia, 1975
two soldiers looked over the singer,
his palms pressed together in greeting.

He is asked to sing something
but muzzled by rattling AK-47s
echoing across hills. Children are playing soldier.
Fetuses ripped from wombs dangle
in nearby trees.

Yet he opened his mouth
and a flood of love melodies poured out.

iv.
An online friend revived
Bopha Reach Sroh
over a hip-hop instrumental.

No one knows what happened to him.
It’s said that the Khmer Rouge made him sing
before they shot him.

v.
The stench of the unburied
transmits across towers of bones.