Chath Piersath Phnom Penh, Cambodia •Poem


My Father King

Father King now bronze, a statue,
Breathing in the city’s growing smog.
In bronze suit and shoes, he stands in guard,
Looking over his handiwork the park,
Full of Chinese taking photographs of themselves.
A bird on his head a black dot perching
At rest, dropping on his bronze hair.
Up close, His Majesty’s metallic head and face is someone else.
The King I knew was small and short with a chirping voice.
I bowed to him once in the palace, shaking his hand.
He was only a man just like me,
A mortal with an expiration date on his breath.
When mine expired, I am sure we’ll meet again, perhaps, on
A more equal term as in death, all men are created equal.
His life sized statue is taller and imposing,
Standing authoritarian and divine, his hands,
One over the other, humbling not by choice to
These political indigestions, centuries over, in and out
Of China where Mao had built him a palace.
He could compose his music in French, English, Mandarin
and Khmer about his squalid kingdom, full of mad men
and greedy dictators and oligarchs. The feudal chain
of French colonial perfume lingering in Ministries
Written in French.
His back now turned to Independence,
That monument once the tallest, now a miniature figure
Among skyscrapers of modernism.
King and monument, together at last, now being visited
Mostly by Koreans and Chinese more so than his own people.

Chath pierSath, 2015



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