Poetry by Bunkong Tuon

Bukowski Would Never Do This
(for Clint Margrave)

He also could never afford it.
An average of twenty-five bucks a contest,
and pretty soon, you feel dirty. Something is not right.
Have you gotten soft in your ivory tower?
You reason, independent presses need your support.
Consider it as donations, as giving back to your community
though you were never a part of it.
Public reading terrifies you, and belonging
to a group can be dangerous, especially when the group
feels it’s somehow noble, and we know where nobility
can lead us. Far from nobility, Bukowski
taught us to write from the guts, from the earthly flesh of experience,
to find beauty in filth, to delight in the everyday,
to love people in lonely rooming houses, bars, and alleyways,
in a language pure & simple, no hiding, no tricks;
then, a year after those rejections, you begin receiving
the winning entries—some bad, some not so bad,
but you remember only the bad ones
because that is how your mind & heart work,
they are the stuff you detest,
poetry without guts, poetry without spirit,
language tricks as safety net,
poetry dissected in workshops
and anesthetized for publication,
poetry of the dead and the disembodied,
as if the body is to be feared
because, if you get too close, you might cry out
over the little things that matter to your heart.


About Bunkong Tuon

Bunkong Tuon teaches writing and literature in the English Department at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His recent publications include poems in Nerve Cowboy, Más Tequila Review, Chiron Review, and Patterson Literary Review. Gruel, his first full-length collection, was published recently by NYQ Books: http://books.nyq.org/title/gruel.