Bunkong Tuon

I Must Not Be Smart

I must not be smart for I let things be.
The white dove flies from my hands,

                    its wings spread wide.
                    It can come back whenever it wants.

My love loves singing in the shower.
My hands open wide always waiting.

                    A tiny bird outside my window,
                    she’s free to flee if she wants

or stay if she wants, but I prefer
she stays. My heart might break.

                    When I hike I stride with the earth, the wind,
                    the blue sky and the sunlight in my hair.

They see me and smile for that’s all they do.
A flower blooms on the mountain’s top.

                    I tell my students I cry just like them
                    though only some admit to crying.

I call them by the names they give me,
nothing more, nothing less.

                    My hands open wide always waiting.
                    I must not be smart for I let things be.



Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (NYQ Books, 2015), And So I Was Blessed (NYQ Books, 2017), and Dead Tongue (with Joanna C. Valente, forthcoming from Yes Poetry. Nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net Anthology, his poetry recently won the 2019 Nasiona Nonfiction Poetry Prize. He teaches at Union College in Schenectady, NY.