James Flick



A young mathematician's ideals
of education cannot falter,
though chalk-bitter confessions
yield the stink of ivory towers,
stacks of paperheld faces,
and the once sweet name:
Hillock of the wild mango.

Behind a tin fence
purity and momentum prove the genius
of Choeung Ek's answer:
14,000 (more or less).

Characters inscribed on blank sheets
destroy their own assumptions,
One hand touching sky, the other grasping book.
An enclosed, formally administered round of life
opens a throat to the anteroom,
throbbing with a spirit of guilt:
Those who have strings intellect,
plant fruit trees without consent, whose
rice quota is desperate --
sweep and clean.

Pain destroys language.
Suffering is incidental to formulae
establishing a crime; the wheel of history
compromises secrecy with screams.
Ordinary men perform their duties,
deadened to all but business, resistance
escaping to quiet the new day.
The source is here:
in a metal pipe on the back of the neck,
in the number 19 that hangs from her collar,
your hands.