Punk by Bunkong Tuon


On YouTube, the kids go apeshit over the Sex Pistols
        gleefully giving Johnny Lydon, green-haired, rotten-teethed,
foul-mouthed, wily-eyed punk icon their hard-earned cash.
        During the first year of the pandemic Lydon is seen sporting
a red Make-America-Great-Again t-shirt, belly protruding like
        a pesky spoiled brat. So it goes with getting old,
the world you once knew is turned upside down, the punk you love
        is now the pop music you hate. But back in the 70s,
when the Pistols played in some unknown bar down in Texas
        Rotten screamed “I am the anti-Christ. I’m going to destroy the Pacifists”
& they hated him with everything they got. They spat, threw chairs, rioted.
        The hate was pure and, of course, mutual, as Rotten spat back
and screamed some more. Sid Vicious scowled, sliced his skinny chest
        with a used razor while Steve and Glenn held down the beat.
Everything was clear then, lines were drawn. And it wasn’t about money,
        fame, and other illusions. It was a war between the establishment
and the underground, between authority and reckless youth, fought
        in the beautiful chaos of noise, the only kind of war for me.


Bunkong Tuon is a Cambodian-American writer and critic. He is the author of three full-length poetry collections and a chapbook. His publications include The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review, Misfit, carte-blanche, among others. He writes for Cultural Daily. Tuon teaches at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.