Tuol Sleng (aka S-21) was a high school which The Khmer Rouge turned into a torture prison Run by a man with big teeth and a black heart A monster known as Comrade Duch.
Enemies of the revolution were brought here Detained and tortured to extract formal but Ultimately fabricated confessions of Invented crimes against the regime.
Fastidious in their record-keeping The KR measured and photographed Each victim upon arrival. The grim portraits now fill the classrooms Men and woman of all ages And row upon row of children A heart-wrenching gallery.
Where students once learned and laughed There is barbwire strung across the balcony There are shackles still bolted to the floor Pleas of the condemned scratched in doors Bloodstains in the stairwell.
A high bar in the courtyard which held ropes For PE students to climb was made into gallows Where the accused were strung upside-down By their hands until they passed out Only to be lowered into containers of Filthy scummy water and so revived To face further agony and interrogation.
Torture sessions were documented and There were usually multiple confessions Each more damning than the last No matter how untrue.
Upon the final most condemnatory divulgence The prisoner was loaded blindfolded into a truck And taken under darkness of night To the killing fields of Choeung Ek.
Visitors stunned and somber Struggling with expression Stumble past numbing depressions Excavations of mass graves Discovered after the genocide
One grave was found to contain Only women and children All unclothed Under a tree near the concavity A large sign reads:
“Killing Tree Against Which Executioners Beat Children”
In the bark they found brain matter Blood and bits of bone, but today The trunk trembles in bright colors Blessing bracelets fluttering Thousands in the wind Hung throughout the years Of grief and remembrance.