Issue #54




Samnang Than

Drench in the stench of fish sauce.

I lay face-down, lost 

in pillows of wide rice noodles.

Wrap, like pigs in a blanket, 

with chili flakes and peppered-spice, 

and everything’s nice with a sweet 

kiss of coconut 

milk to balance my sanity.  

Apple eggplants and Idaho potatoes dice and 

slice like my identity,

a half-pile boil then simmer till soft enough to beat,

the other half-pile is deep-fried — skin, feet, and all.

Fingerroots like my Cambodian root.

Scrape the yellowish-brown off the skin before 

finely chop—stick close to the surface because 

the flesh is less appealing.

Add 4 strings of snake beans

because fuck it, why not?

Go for green, unblemished pods

without any matured beans. 

And I was an immature bean

oblivious to the difference 

between my dark skin and insecurity.

A facepalm of palm sugar to cover 

the wound and family scars.

Use thighs or breasts 

from field-raised chickens,

slice into bite-size pieces of 

my mother’s dream.

Two teaspoons of shrimp and red pepper paste to spice up 

my socially awkward life,

blend with a side of fermented fish paste to explore my cultural roots.

Add a pinch of salt to ward off the inherent bitterness

of being one and none.

Throw everything in a pot and let it simmer;

watch as people ask, 

“Is it ramen?” “Is it pho?” 


it’s Khmerican.


Remember us on the water?