New Poem by Chath pierSath, Traveling in Cambodia

One of our occasional contributors, the poet-painter-farmer-social activist Chath pierSath is traveling in his homeland, Cambodia, and sending daily dispatches as poems and paintings on his Facebook page. A refugee from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, Chath came to America as a boy and after various moves settled in Lowell for many years. He earned a master’s degree in community social psychology from UMass Lowell. The author of three books, he lives in Bolton, Mass., when he’s not in France, Cambodia or elsewhere.–PM

Daem Kor, the Kapok Tree

by Chath pierSath

Rooted deepest in the bank of Stung Sangker, your shade taking the sun way high, from where I look I am the tiniest of creatures, admiring you, tree of time, smooth bark of green, shape of light caressing you among bamboos and low canopy trees, you are my witness.

Here, I arrived ignorant of local ways, their love and their hatred, their greed & self-destruction that you have seen during my absence, a son who had gone far and not forgotten your goodness. I return to take refuge in your grandeur and power, to hear and to see the sky.

My arms wide open, kneeling before you, tell me who is out here I can love and trust. Show me to the river, where it begins & ends, what songs, what stories it can share, all ears, all eyes, envisioning in time of peace. May this country return to kindness & community.

I’d like to build a tiny home to put my heart at rest when I am lonely & sad. I can find safety in your protection, my tears for your strength. Give me this chance once, I won’t ask of you anymore.

Take me back home
to die a true son,
never again in horror or in nightmare should I ever have to run.

5 Responses to New Poem by Chath pierSath, Traveling in Cambodia

  1. Ken Nicewicz says:

    As always, Chath is so in tune with Mother Earth in everything he does and says. We who know him are so fortunate to have him in our lives.

  2. John Goss says:

    Reverse culture shock for a refugee/expat returning to the motherland to search for fragments of home. Hope still grows there, providing shade from the glare of a relentlessly brutal reality.

  3. James Wallace says:

    Chath’s writing has always had a way of bringing back memories I’ve long since filed away in the sterilized zip files of my mind. His words never fail to bring feelings, color, and mood back is a visceral way. I can’t wait to visit the tiny house he conjures up in this poem!

  4. C. Scott Lopez says:

    Chath’s writing never fails to bring out in me the intensity of the human spirit, the strength of the human heart, and our unfailing ability to endure and never cease facing the challenges which life brings…

  5. Jinx Davis says:

    I have been consuming Chath’s words and they always trigger thoughts in the back of my mind as I soak in Cambodia. The images he conjures reflect the haunting brokenness of his culture but also speak of a resilient spirit with the power to comfort thinking hearts. While he writes as a refugee/ex-pat, his words are universal to the human struggle to understand what we do to each other. In poetry, if an image or emotion remains with the reader, the writer has succeeded. Chath has succeeded, over and over again.