S-21

Photographs of the inmates of S-21/Toul Sleng
Photographs of the inmates of S-21/Toul Sleng

Flowers grow over graves,

Winds whisper over the place

Where thousands were murdered by tens,

Where men tortured, abused, destroyed men

/

Empty rooms, empty yards, empty stairs

Will remember as long as they stand

The names of those, who half-slept and half-died

In iron beds on Rouge’s hot, scream-filled nights

/

Now it’s quiet here under the sun;

The locks from the doors and the windows are gone;

Blood’s been washed off the walls and the floors,

But the watchful eyes of the still-suffering ghosts

/

Of Toul Sleng follow into the future the steps

Of the guests who have come to converse with the dead

6 thoughts on “S-21

  1. Beautiful poem for places we visited many years ago, sad that man is so unkind to his own. It was two places that will always be remembered with sadness in our minds and left us with so much to think of, we remember a day of virtual silence as we walked those two places. Don and Gill Bennett

    1. Thank you for stopping by, my friends! Yes, the quiet of the Killing Fields and S-21 is unforgettable. Amazing how much blood the Earth can absorb, how many secrets it can keep…

  2. This was going on almost 40 years ago. I have a very distasteful memory as I attended a Jewish Holocaust one day convention then. Several were allowed to speak from the audience at one session. When I related what was going on in Cambodia at the very moment and urged people to action instead of memorializing the past I was pretty much run out of the room. Some people do not understand that there is not only one holocaust that should begin with a capital letter.

    1. I hear you, Carl. I think our civilization is incredibly hypocritical about its history, but even more so – about its present. Just think about what is happening in Tibet NOW – and what we are doing about it. Nothing. We’ll come cry later at the graves of those, whose existence we chose not to acknowledge.

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