Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TUOL SLENG: POL POT'S PRISON, by KAREN SWENSON

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TUOL SLENG: POL POT'S PRISON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Like photographs of dutch schultz which show a slick
Last Line: But all I can do is make them into words.
Subject(s): Cambodia; Photography & Photographers; Prisons & Prisoners

Like photographs of Dutch Schultz which show a slick
haired, ordinary man with unmatched eyes, there
is nothing evil in this face. Pol Pot
is a bland, jowly, full-lipped man.
Murder. Torture. Genocide. The big words
leave no mark on this small human face.

His photograph has first place on these walls,
mosaicked with the snapshots of the dead.
Looking into the eye of the camera
their eyes focus down the well of terror --
a child, his upper lip already slashed;
a man grinning madness; a woman, blank
faced with one tear, clasps her infant.

In the presence of full face or profile
or candids of the stick-limbed forced to smile up
from beds of torture, I move face to face. My
eyes supersede the camera. Obsessed, I
feel obligated to look one by one,
as though by meeting each pair of eyes
I might...
But all I can do is make them into words.

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