The underwater coal mines closed in 1974,
but the tortured souls of Korean and Chinese slaves still linger like smoke among the tumbled apartments, tea rooms, and temples;
as I step over broken sake bottles and around an overturned tv,
I enter a schoolhouse and see a teacher’s faded name written on the blackboard;
in 2015 UNESCO designated this wasteland a world heritage site;
now charter boats of smiling tourists snap selfies from the board walk that imprisons this pernicious place;
I’m on my knees searching for a surviving bottle of sake and somewhere solemn to pray.
Poet’s Bio: Robert Flinn holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas USA. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Zaman University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he teaches English.
He is also the director of the university writing center. His poems travel across a wide spectrum of social commentary and popular culture and often speak to injustice and the under-represented. His previous poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including: The Asian Signature Review, Atom Mind, Microkosmos, The Beacon, and Vox, as well as on the debut CD of touring band ULU.