I’ve joined this writing group and the first assignment was to write a poem in iambic pentameter (penta, means5. iambs, that’s a unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, think daDUM. So iambic pentameter is 5 sets of iambs). They gave us some lines to start us off. I found the exercise much trickier than I thought it would be. In the end, I wrote something but it felt like it was fitting a square peg in a round hole.
So, I’ve unpegged it. And let the lines run free. I think they feel better for it. I’ve tried to keep the ending in iambic pentameter. A bit of discipline never went amiss.
It’s a bit dark… but it was sort of inspired by the upcoming 40th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge.
*Phsar Doeum Thkov is the neighbourhood where I live in Phnom Penh.
An evening walk in Phsar Doeum Thkov*
These streets have no name. They’re just numbers on a map.
Street five hundred is mine.
I walk them as sun sets.
Five-0-two is next.
Dogs shake off hot sun,
stretch and yap at my feet.
I don’t like it.
5-0-4 is cheerfully lined with white, pink and yellow
frangipani trees. I’d linger but,
for the dogs. Besides, I’m meant to be doing exercise.
There, a huge white house stands behind
iron gates. Next door, a wooden shack.
Do the neighbours talk to one another?
These nameless streets hold innumerable,
unsaid, unspoken, memories. Walls, Stones,
dare I ask, what happened? Who fell? When? Who
cowered? Cried? Wept? Died? How? Bludgeoned? Shot? Who