Choeung Ek (Killing Field)


Human bone underfoot
a hoopoe calling out of
silence. The tree against which
infants were killed, still broad, again
green. A boy from a nearby shanty calls
from the other side of
the perimeter-fence –
hand held out.

The living tree is beyond innocence;
never built this ageless fence
these walls of skulls
the invisible line between
us               and

Phnom Penh, 2011

Martin Kovan

Author: Martin Kovan

In 2002 I studied poetics with U.S. poet Gary Snyder at UC Davis. Since then I’ve been published in poetry, fiction, essay, and academic Buddhist ethics and philosophy. Having lived in India and SE Asia for some years, a lot of the cultural and religious territory of South Asia, especially Buddhism, permeates my work. I’m currently based at National University of Singapore where I’m continuing a PhD. in Buddhist philosophy. Most of my work is free to view at

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