Michael Pedersen: Hello I am Cambodia
On Breathing Room III by Anthony Gormley
I step backwards into it,
a paradigm of time
and space: stacked, propped
and columned. As foes
of forgotten brotherhoods,
war. Structure shifts, from
sitting-down to standing-up,
moving to stock-still;
atoms split, electrons trill.
Inside these walls is plenty,
outside is rush and panic,
the to-and-fro of workplace
and dinner-date. It’s not just
a clock but mechanical zeniths
and a cache of interfering
science. The exhibition closes
but the cafe, proffering syrups
and sugars, remains open, delivering
an epiphany: I, too, am science
and precedent is everywhere,
when layers as complex
as trifle pudding, have started
back at recipe.
Hello Bréon, it’s nice meet you
– please ignore the scratches,
I’ve been browning in gutters,
amongst wet cigarettes and the last
flecks of Camden’s lanceolated leaves.
As things stand: faith is grubby,
sweet premise pale, the railings, too,
have lost their stockings – nowt
but dankness underneath.
I’ve noticed your stories don’t involve
sticky risings, Senegalese dealers
or Lambeth car-parks and I’m very
intrigued; alas for fear
you’d think me mad
(or a poor secret-keeper), I snub
the amber squalls which haemorrhage
through the firmament. For you,
too, blaze, thatching synergies,
talking of six continents
operating like organs. It was years
further when I spoke of the stars:
blinking blinking, as night
flinched beneath them.
To which you replied Ahhh
the Stars! I thought you’d never ask.
Hello. I am Cambodia
who wakes every morning,
in a brilliant mood, as caskets
of mischievous light scorch soil
into mottled polka dots.
My Cardamom mountains,
fluffy as frightened cats,
thatch mossy quilts
over Pot’s old bones.
Among markets fruits conspire
like multi-coloured aliens,
and bumblebee cat-fish,
having outran river wolves,
find themselves bucketed,
in half-dollar kilos.
Happy days, a new-age
of lionizing afternoons:
on rosy guests, swapping
shibboleths, over piña colada
and sugared cherries.
Must men still bemoan
my wreckages – captain
corners as mini monuments
waiting to be restored?
I’ve not forgotten the nastiness
just come to realise
that pestering the past
is like activating old itches,
in hard to reach places.
Eye for an Eye
It’s on Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap,
where this speeding 4×4
ploughs down a Khmer kid;
his body catapults. Colours
crammed into a taut frame
spill, like berry punch, out
the ears and eyes and nose;
he’s brown bread, dead-weight,
ribs in double helix. A flurry of fumes,
then putt-putt-putt as eager
exhausts prowl off in pursuit.
Umpteen scooters skirt towards
the ostentatious chariot,
which veers from the road,
walloping a tiger tree.
A man is wrenched-out,
torn from vehicle like stuffing
from a teddy bear. The man is Korean:
Cambodia’s Jew – ‘not local’
would have been quite enough
to seal his orphaned fate.
A seventy strong siege
of swipes and stamps
leave him writhing,
like a crushed worm,
on the baked concrete slabs.
Late light sinks into the river,
fogs and culprits flee the scene,
night unfurls, swiftly.
From the opposite bank I note:
caramel chinos caked in dust
and blood, his still eyes twinkling,
fizzing like embers with the power
to come back from the dead,
if only I blew on them.
Feathers and Cream (fourteen)
When each part of you tweets,
like the voiced pipes
of some elaborate organ,
you’re not a thing grown thin –
that puny frame, its bag of bones,
in winsome skin, will coruscate
Such a shift: where settled nights
in Carluke are suddenly prized
and more lionized than both
sides of America; than French
fables where, in chateaux, wine
is quaffed and laughter puffs
like excitable bonfires.
The crux of it: I was prickly
for you to know, a wily seadog,
flaunting admiration over aptitude
for stars – more troublesome
than torpid, louder than numb.
Imagine having missed this!
Within two chapters I outran
night’s galactic mischief , balance
out the receipts of my recklessness 
and in a, divinely timed,
It’s like when a car radio loses frequency
spilling down a deep fissure,
then, just as you forgot about the music,
it bursts back, trumpeting
your favourite song.
So today, as pylons streak the sky
a ferocious sun sets over Glasgow,
bleeding, looking almost African,
it’s now it could be true –
we’re not so different you and I. 
 Krakens stalking the ship, kamikaze meteors circling our shadows.
 The addled, smelted, hazy and heavy.
 Things that didn’t fit:
(i) that (topsy-turvy) smile;
(ii) the little soldiers in your voice; their pockets full of cherry bombs.