• Poems

    Norman Abjorensen: Two Poems

    Norman Abjorensen

    Old Woman, Cambodia

    I died long ago,
    I die every day,
    every hour, every minute.
    My life is constant death,
    I am always dying,
    I do not live.
    I am become death.

    These eyes have seen too much.
    The horror has no name.
    An empty darkness there,
    beyond all measure;
    an impenetrable zone of negation.

    Not mute, but silent:
    in such a world laid bare,
    words have no meaning.

    There is no one left.
    All memory is obliterated,
    the past erased.

    Only an interminable present,
    a time outside of time,
    a moment lived again and again,
    a present that is always there.

    I cannot die, but I am dead.
    I cannot remember, but I cannot forget.
    I am the darkness that fears itself.
    I am the end that never ends.


    Killing Fields, Cheung Ek

    The hen and her chicks
    are pecking over the mounds,
    dipping into the shallow pits.

    Outside the wire fences,
    peasant children from the paddies
    beg for change.

    Silent visitors file through
    awed into disbelief
    at the history of this tranquil scene.

    Glass cases display bones and rags,
    all that remain of those
    who drew their last breath here.

    Yet life goes on in this terrible place,
    as the chicks peck and the children play.

    Outside the gates
    mine victims minus limbs
    rattle their tins.

    The rattle of dead men’s bones,
    the rattle of the death trucks.
    The rattle of weapons reloading,
    the rattle of gunfire.
    The rattle of metal on skull,
    the rattle of fear in the heart.
    The rattle of the ebbing pulse,
    the rattle in a dying man’s throat.
    The rattle in the tail of the viper,
    the rattle of forlorn hope.
    The rattle of frozen desire trapped forever.

    The rattle of something small
    lost and tumbling in vastness.

    The rattle of something in nothingness.

    The rattle of your soundless scream
    echoing forever.


    Norman Abjorensen is an Australian poet and playwright.