Monica Sok


Monica Sok is a Khmer poet and the daughter of refugees. She is the author of A Nail the Evening Hangs On (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Her work has been recognized with a "Discovery" Prize from 92Y. She has received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, MacDowell, National Endowment  for the Arts, Poetry Society of America, Saltonstall Foundation, and others. Sok is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University and  teaches poetry to Southeast Asian youths at the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, California. She is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Source

ABC for Refugees

Cherub-bee-dee how does a man

who doesn’t read English well know that cherub-bee-dum

those aren’t really words-bee-dee.

But birds.


Cherub-bee-dum, he stumbles, reading to me

by the sliding glass door cherub-bee-dee, through which I watch

my brother play in the dum-dum-yard.


Cherub-bee-dee, cherub-bee-dum, like how my father says

Fine then! Leave! My mother shouts, Stupid! Dumb!

We live in a small bee-dee-nest too, one hallway to bee-dum-slam doors.


Birds? What are birds?

Thanks to my father, reading with me, I have more feathers.


T-H-E. First word he ever taught me to pluck  …    

It is a word used all the time. Cherub-cherub-bee-dum!


The mail. The mailbox. The school bus. The the.


He asks me to read the mail. Not birds, mail.

If you don’t read this, you will turn into birds.

And I read it to him the best I can.

The end. A feather. Two feathers. The. The end.


Mother, mother. Repeat after me.

Cherub-bee-dee, cherub-bee-dum!

We read together before bedtime.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Education & Learning



Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


The repetition of similar vowel sounds that takes place in two or more words in proximity to each other within a line; usually refers to the repetition of internal vowel sounds in words that do not end the same.


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


A word that, when spoken aloud, has a sound that is associated with the thing or action being named.

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered