Thursday, January 24, 2013

in response to the anonymous adoptive parent who responded to Lori Jane's blog at

A not short response to the "Anonymous" who wrote: "Some people enjoy having a miserable outlook and a victim mentality. That is the "syndrome" I diagnose you with. You get what you put out in the world. Karma baby. You are looking for the evil, girl. It's you who is the A.S.S. Love, an adoptive mother of a Korean daughter" in response to this blog post by Lori Jane ( :

i would ask that you take the time to read the following words just as we as adoptees and our allies have taken the time to read your response...

first allow me to begin with words by Nancy Verrier  "a mother, a former teacher, a psychotherapist, author, and lecturer" and the author of "The Primal Wound":

"This loss cannot be eliminated by intellectual understanding, although this is important; or by legislation, although reform is certainly needed. The adoptee’s loss must be acknowledged, validated, and worked through, so that she can gain a new attitude toward it and begin to gain a sense of Self (who she is), self-esteem (how she feels about herself), and self-worth (how she believes she is valued by others). Only when we set aside our denial … when triad members acknowledge their pain, and when clinicians recognize the differences between biological and adoptive families … can we proceed down the path to healing with understanding, insight, honesty, and courage." -

-- as tempting as it is for me to respond to your venomous words with equal vitriol i instead would like to talk about why you have said what you have said... i can only assume by the ardent seeming anger and contempt you hold for Lori Jane and her words that maybe at the end of the day... what she wrote... scares you and brings out your own insecurities as an adoptive parent. - growing up as a korean-american adoptee in a very white conservative household in the south i recall my own adoptive mother telling me that she used to wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares of my biological mother coming to take me back... and though i do not dare to assume that you have nightmares like this related to whether or not your child feels a GENUINE attachment to you... i can only guess (due to your response) that the words that Lori Jane wrote may have scared you to death... that maybe they caused you to wonder/fear that maybe one day when your "Korean daughter" is an adult and able to form her own identity that maybe she will reject you and how she was raised... that maybe she will tell you "you taught me to see myself as being white - do you know how damaging that ended up being? do you understand that we live in a world where asian women ARE fetishized by the rest of the world especially by white men? do you understand how damaged i am? do you understand that my need to find my korean roots and identity actually has NOTHING to do with you and i cannot babysit your insecurities about MY abandonment?" etc.

your words... your response... remind me of my own adoptive mother... i can only guess that you would defend yourself by saying that you LOVE your "Korean daughter" and that any adoptee who speaks out against international adoption is just a bitter angry person... and i want you to know... you aren't alone in thinking what you seem to think... but the reality is... it is unfair for you to only talk about how adoption affects you when it IS a "triad" - there is you, yes. but there is your "Korean daughter's" mother who most likely did not WANT to give her child away any more than you would want to give your children away. AND there IS "your" "Korean daughter" and HER voice is AS VALID as yours... to squelch her voice... to tell her or other adoptees who may think differently than you due to the REALITY of the fact that WE (NOT YOU!) WERE the ones who were abandoned by both our very flesh and blood and our government and people - to imply, to state so blatantly that we are WRONG to express our very real experiences? -- it is akin to the victimizer telling the victim that their voice is not valid and shutting them down by attacking their character and their words with hate.

the reality is... the era that we now live in... the concept of being "color blind" is NOW harmful and damaging to racial minorities in the west. we are no longer living in a time period of racial segregation where there was a genuine reason for why being "color blind" was "radical" ...

here is the reality - and i say this as a korean-american adoptee and i say this as one who will proudly sign my name to my comment and not hide behind "anonymity" -- we as adoptees did not choose to leave our country of korea, our people, our culture, our very DNA our families. we did not choose to grow up in white families in the west - we did not choose to grow up being exotified by western society - we did not choose to lose our very KOREAN identity. and so when we grow up... SOME of us begin to explore our identity and the reasons for WHY our mothers/fathers gave us up and we begin to examine how our growing up experiences affected us... and when we discover injustices along the way - when we discover how many of us were actually and literally kidnapped and sold to the west for profit - when we discover that our mothers were young and single and were only given the option to turn us over to agencies... when we discover that the korean government and society would rather deal with single mothers and their children by encouraging our mothers to leave us... when we discover that we are so broken due to being raised to view ourselves as white and that we spent our childhood struggling with what we saw in the mirror... when we discover that when many of us were adopted south korea was under the rule of a dictator who would rather see us sold than to actually do anything to help our families... when we discover that adoption agencies have been and continue to lie to us and to our adoptive families and that they financially benefit immensely from the adoption system... when we discover that we actually are allowed to SPEAK OUT and UP about OUR individual experiences as adoptees - that our voices are VITAL to the discourse on international adoption... and so we finally do so for the first time in our lives... and all too often the response is akin to yours... accusing us of being ungrateful, evil, bitter, angry, etc.

i am NOT ungrateful for my life nor am i bitter about it... Lori Jane in no way in her blog implies that she does not love her life...

but quite bluntly - who are you to tell anyone how to speak about their very real experiences? and who are you to tell an adoptee who lives with the very real trauma of having been separated from their genetic and cultural identity that none of us have the right to talk about this? or that when we do and if we don't think as you that you then have the right to try and make our experiences irrelevant by labeling us with such hateful labels?

yes, you as an adoptive parent have every right to question or disagree JUST AS I and just as Lori Jane have every right to express our views and experiences and in your case - just as your "Korean daughter" has the right to do so now and when she is an adult... and maybe she will agree with you but maybe she won't

and i would ask you now in light of everything - i would respectfully challenge you and leave you with these questions - do you really want to tell or imply to "your" child that her experiences of the world and her opinions, even if they end up greatly differing from yours - that you will one day label her voice as being irrelevant or "evil" if she does not agree with you on adoption one day? will you threaten her with abandonment all over again if she one day views her adoption experience differently than you do? will you bully her into being the one to solve your insecurities over adoption as she grows up? will you cause her to think that if she one day speaks out like Lori Jane or others that she is "evil" or as you so crudely wrote "an A.S.S."? -- 

kim michelle thompson. seoul. s. korea. thursday 24 january 2013

Thursday, March 3, 2011


these days for whatever inane reasons i am posting more on our ibyang poetry blog (ibyang being the word for an adoptee from korea)

so that blog is at: and a variety of korean adoptees from korea and around the world post poetry on there...

craziness... that i have now been living here for 1.5 or so years... though my korean skills are quite regrettable... c'est la vie -- we all learn when we are ready to -- esp. when it comes to being an ibyang who has returned to one's place of genetic history and beginnings...

anyhow... am keeping most writing on the poetry blog site... and then of course there is always ... facebook

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

a poem started on the subway

- (i) spend my days dreaming
beneath/above the city streets
in long subway corridors
propelled by tracks laid down by

above slick streets repaved with
bouncing-jarring potholes
bumps-and-manic bus drivers braking

(if i grow my hair long, will they...
- i dont even need to ask...
i know the answer -
they WILL
treat me as equal
with the respect my birth year would
demand of them)

inbetween the layers that mild winters do demand
(this most certainly is not the twin cities that ive loved so well)

in fact most everything right now (in life)
is that great daunting inbetween

the one day is yet to come

i dreamed so big before
that now i must learn to hear the rest of me thats been silent in hopeful wishing

... and so they see what it is that they are looking for
short hair no high heels
can only mean one thing
never two or three
or even somewhere decimaled

... and thats ok

cuz my earphones give sound to scape

and all i need do is get on the bus
go down the stairs
into the city's tunnels

and dream bigger than what she wished for me

because now ive found her

because now

i can find

all the rest of me

thats been waiting up above and down below

"1:48 Voices from within the Korean diaspora" feat Jennifer Kwon Dobbs TBS radio 27 Jan 2010Seoul

Featured guest : Jennifer Kwon Dobbs - author of "Paper Pavilion," currently working on second book, guest editor of the 3rd edition of JKAS and assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota

Reporting by: kim thompson

*** Jennifer Kwon Dobbs' bio:
"Jennifer Kwon Dobbs received the New England Poetry Club's Shelia Motton Book Award for her debut collection of poetry, Paper Pavilion (White Pine Press 2007). Currently assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, Kwon Dobbs is working on an essay collection about the political geographies of overseas Korean adoptee birth searches and a second book of poetry."

Blog and info about Paper Pavilion:

A bit more about Jennifer: (Report)

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs:

Jennifer is currently in Seoul for the month of January to work on her second book which will be a collection of prose and essays on "the geographies of our (adoptees) birth searches and the maps we end up making." She is also in Seoul to work on the third issue of the Journal of Korean Adoption Studies of which she is the guest editor and to do follow up work interviewing women from the Korean single mother's group Miss Mamma Mia.
The book that she is currently writing is the second in a two part "series" that evolved out of her Literature and Creative Writing dissertation at the University of Southern California where she received her MA and PhD. Her first book was a book of poetry entitled "Paper Pavilion” which received the New England Poetry Club's Sheila Motton Book Award. (For excerpts and more info on this book: )

Jennifer's second book, which currently has a publisher but not a specific release date, will focus on the Korean adoptee search for birth family and how in this search is the discovery of reunion and identity. Through essays and prose she will explore the themes of "success and failure" in relation to the search process as well as discovery both in terms of personal and cultural identity as well as the creation and discovery of community. It will talk about why the birth search for adoptees is powerful and how the search reveals how important it is for us to go back and forth in our stories - that the story is not linear and that "the fake straightening of that loop (is a part of the violence)."

Jennifer is also as the guest editor of the third Journal of Korean Adoption Studies - which is published by the Korean adoptee organization Global Overseas Adoptees' Link (G.O.A.'L.) The peer-reviewed journal is a collection of academic essays, testimonies of adoption, illustrations, and reviews of new publications or releases related to Korean adoption studies. The third issue of Journal of Korean Adoption Studies (JKAS) focuses on community as a significant project that Korean adoptees have been engaged in building since the early 1980s. This issue facilitates opportunities to examine struggles for community by documenting previous models on which adoptees have relied to imagine possible directions toward developing collective unity. For more information go to: and click under "References Room" where you will see the link for the Journal of Korean Adoption Studies.

To purchase the 1st issue go to:
or email:

To submit work for consideration in this issue email:
Deadline for submissions is: 1 April 2010

Jennifer is also a member of the steering committee for the academic symposium to be hosted by IKAA in August 2010 that last 1:48 guest Kim Park Nelson is a part of.

TO LISTEN click play

About 1:48

This is a report that will air once every 3 weeks and will feature korean adoptees who are artists, activists, and philosophers.

I (kim thompson) will do the reporting and through the suggestions of others as well as my own contacts bring on different voices from within the adoptee community who live both in Seoul and abroad. For the time being it will air as a regular report that is featured on the "Steve Hatherly Show"

The reason that I've named the report thus is due to this fact (which I extracted from an article by Jane Jeong Trenka )

"since 1953 about 200,000 korean children have been sent to the west for adoption. with korea having a population of approximately 48 million this means one in every 48 korean citizens is affected by adoption. this show will feature some of those 200,000 who have returned home."


It is to our knowledge the first consistent featuring of a report like this on the radio. Your comments and feedback and listening participation are vital. PLEASE make sure to email Tim Alper at TBS radio with your support for the show and tell him how you heard it (either live or on my blog)

Tim Alper:

If you have guest or topic suggestions please email me (Kim Thompson) at:
* The purpose of this show is to feature the voices of Korean adoptees

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"1:48 voices from within the korean diaspora" #2 feat: Kim Park Nelson

"1:48 - voices from within the korean diaspora"
guest: Kim Park Nelson
reporting by: kim thompson
interview conducted by: Steve Hatherly for TBS radio in Seoul

"Kim Park Nelson is an assistant professor of American Multicultural Studies at the Minnesota State University at Moorhead. Her research explores the many identities of adult Korean adoptees, as well as the cultural, social, historical and political significance of over 50 years of Korean adoption to the United States. Her recently completed Ph.D. research is titled “Korean Looks, American Eyes: Korean American Adoptees, Race, Culture and Nation.” She is the lead organizer of the Second International Symposium of Korean Adoption Studies which will take place in Seoul on August 3, 2010 as part of the International Korean Adoptee Associations Gathering, a week- long conference for and about Korean adoptees. She born in Korea and adopted to the United States in 1971."


ABOUT 1:48

This is a report that will air once every 3 weeks and will feature korean adoptees who are artists, activists, and philosophers.

I will do the reporting and through the suggestions of others as well as my own contacts bring on different voices from within the adoptee community who live both in Seoul and abroad. For the time being it will air as a regular report that is featured on the "Steve Hatherly Show"

The reason that I've named the report thus is due to this fact (which I extracted from an article by Jane Jeong Trenka )

"since 1953 about 200,000 korean children have been sent to the west for adoption. with korea having a population of approximately 48 million this means one in every 48 korean citizens is affected by adoption. this show will feature some of those 200,000 who have returned home."


It is to our knowledge the first consistent featuring of a report like this on the radio. Your comments and feedback and listening participation are vital. PLEASE make sure to email Tim Alper at TBS radio with your support for the show and tell him how you heard it (either live or on my blog)

Tim Alper:

If you have guest or topic suggestions please email me (Kim Thompson) at:
* The purpose of this show is to feature the voices of Korean adoptees

Saturday, December 26, 2009

disparities of separation anxieties

1 in 48

the marriage of academics and the arts

ibyang kyopo korean korean

the vocabularies being created...

a generation rising up from weariness of standing still in white

sideways glances

... taking it all in

we are here we are here

here we are

... blowing up the blogosphere

we are here

... lucky


ping pong balls

... (i could sit at this coffeeshop for something like ever and a day)

... (ive) so many questions
of what is and will be

artists are the first voice she tells me

... first voices...


translating academia for the masses

academia listening to these first voices for what is being said

"is dual citizenship just another bandaid for an unstoppable wound?"

i used to think loss could only be claimed by us

(father forgive such arrogance)

... i used to think there could be some kind of solution for a thing for which there can be no absolution only... only...


so this is what we walk towards

... the reconciling of ourselves

of our parents both blood and legal

... how are we supposed to fix a thing when we're the ones who were torn away?

but who else will?

malcom x and martin luther king jr rose to the challenge

and now we rise to ours

... one in forty eight


korea you ask us to fight for you in your armies before the age of 30
but i cannot help but ask

"why should we fight for you when you did not fight to keep us?"
"what is it that we would be defending? when you left us so without defense... a lifetime of building our own walls that now we work to deconstruct"


i like to party and rock the mic loud


i like the beauty of the svelte in high heeled black boots click clacking down the streets


i like to be inane

but why im here
is not for frivolities

im here for my own
with a past that cannot should not
be changed...

you ask me what if everyday

ask me the impossible

when there is no answer

... so i work to help create the language for the questions.

what ifs will only make us crazy

one in forty eight

ask me how we are reconciling our statistics
ask me how we are working past the scotch tape of bandaids

... one in forty eight we are trying to increase the gap of such a ratio
so that one day it could become rare to none

... one day

ask me what i believe in

and i will tell you point blank truth that is me

- i believe in one days

i believe in the marriage of three worlds and words

- theirs
- yours
- ours

... i believe in hoping for everything and never giving up

so inbetween the nights you see me in

there are another set of hours spent daily reconciling the anxieties of my and our separations

Friday, December 11, 2009


she is me
i am her
she is me
i am her
she in me sees her
i in her see me
she sees what she would like to forget
she sees what she did wrong
she sees her guilt
her secret
in me
she sees her wrongs

so she
and hides
only placing calls

i know this
because it is how i am too
when confronted with a painful truth

we are one

i am her
she is me
me is her
her is i

... last night i dreamt a hand in mine
so real was the dream i knew the flesh

she is me
i am her

spitting image

hurts to see herself in me

hurt to know what she is seeing

herself in me
and a mistake she can never unmake

so she does as i
runs and hides
behind the safety of half involvement
never quite cutting ties
but never having time to build

... i
see me
in her

... i
see what it is she sees

her one and only replica

that can no longer be kept


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"1:48 Voices from within the Korean diaspora" feat Maja Lee Langvad TBS radio Seoul

"1:48 Voices from within the Korean diaspora" feat Maja Lee Langvad TBS radio Seoul from 7 Dec 09.

the Steve Hatherly show. Reporting by Kim Thompson. Featuring Korean adoptee Danish writer Maja Lee Langvad

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a thought

dearest fellow ibyang employed by holt in eugene oregon and others who live in the house,

please do not think that i am standing in a place of judgement...

i spent about 28 years of my life believing i was white - wondering what the hell all those bitter adoptees were bitchin' about... denouncing it... avoiding korean adoptees or any one who looked asian... i didnt want to be associated with what i was not - i didnt want my identity to be mistaken...

and unlike all those bitter adoptees... i was not bitter... i was fine...

around 29 i began to suspect i wasnt white... and that maybe claiming asians and specifically korean adoptees as friends wasnt such a bad thing... slowly i began to feel less ashamed...

slowly i began to realize... it wasnt that i thought everyone whod already claimed their roots or who were outspoken against int'l adoption was bitter... it was that i was... ashamed.... of being ... of looking... like a korean.

and then ... i began to truly desire to return to the place that i had been born... id always wanted this but id tried to forget... id told myself that only the weak needed to do that... that i was already well adjusted... and sure... id had some rough spots in my coping... but who doesnt?

- i mean everyone drinks away a good five or more years of their life... theres nothing abnormal about being 5'2" and being able to put away 3 plus liters of vodka and a liter of whiskey a week 52 weeks a year for 3 or 4 years without any noticeable side effects... theres nothing abnormal with sleeping around for the sake of it and being completely incapable of admitting to how much i cared about some of them... theres nothing abnormal about having extreme internal panic attacks that id never see someone again when a friend would go to another room for whatever normal mundane reason (i.e. to get a glass of water, to use the bathroom, to answer the phone) - for them to be away for even 5 minutes and to completely convince myself in those 5 minutes that they had forgotten me and probably hated me and probably never really liked me... absolutely nothing abnormal about any of this... we all have shit to deal with... and i was just typical... i wasnt coping anyways... i was just living my life... and being adopted definitely didnt affect my mental or emotional state...

... and then it began to hit me... that maybe this wasnt normal... or at least maybe not healthy... that maybe these things were what the western world calls "coping mechanisms" ...

... and then it began to hit me that maybe... there was something to be said for the fact that to this day i still struggle with the fact that my first mental response when something feels too out of control or painful my first thought for how to deal with it is to go buy a few bottles... or go find some available person to take home...

... and only in the past months have i even been able to begin to fully address these things...

only in the past couple years have i been able to begin to start to want to change these patterns... and in doing so... looking at what it was i wasnt admitting...

and in that... looking at ... what i felt ashamed of...

i was ashamed of being korean.

i was ashamed of this body... this face... this skin...

i was so ashamed that i couldnt even let myself get indignant ... or acknowledge that i cared ... because if i did that ... then id have to admit to myself... not only my shame... but just how much... i have never stopped mourning the loss of my umma - my mother...

and to admit that would be to admit just how very human my heart really is...

and somehow the costs of not admitting were easier... pissing people off... offending them... making them think that i was disrespectful of what theyd asked of me - even when i respected what they asked i didnt have the ground to stand on to be able to prove to them that i was speaking the truth... i never lied to anyone... but i lied to myself a lot...

and so...

my fellow ibyangs... who work for holt... who think adoptees like me who believe that there needs to be a HUGE and DRAMATIC shift and change in int'l adoption policies and most likely be put to an end... those who think me... us... bitter

... i cannot judge you... because i spent most of my life living in "the house"... its only been oh so recent where i have decided to return to "the field" that i was born of... my friends can attest to this...

keeping me grateful for the reality and possibilities that evolution allows us...

... and all of this is only the prelude to what i want to ask you


how can you work for a place like that?

a place that has lied about so many of us in order to make money?

how can you work for a place that continues to deny adoptees access to personal background information?

is it because you think that if you do not you will be classified as bitter?

is it because you feel so indebted to a white society that raised us?

is it because you say as i once did "im not really korean... i just look it... im more white than korean" or "im not like those others - theyre so weak and bitter... complaining all the time - they dont get how lucky they are"

is it because... those in the field remind you of your precarious position in the house?

is it because you... (like me... like most of us... have been... ) ashamed?

is it because... this whole thing affects you so much more than your heart can bear? that you have never stopped missing her? that you have never stopped knowing just how much this hurts?

is it because if you admit to all of that... if you admit how fucked up this leaves you feeling... youd probably break down and cry for days?

is it because ... you hate how much it affects you... and so its easier to say it doesnt really matter and you dont really get it when others make a big deal out of it?

is it because... youre worried that if you admit this... you will risk hurting your adoptive parents feelings... and if you hurt them... then you risk losing them? and the thought of losing another set of parents... is unbearable...

is it because

unlike me and others like me - you never had a real addiction... you have only had healthy dating relationships... you have a wonderful relationship with your parents... youre not one to be so affected by the actions of others... you are never scared of being left ... you see no point in looking to the past... youre well adjusted and well educated... you are strong - you dont let your emotions dictate you use the brain you were given... you have god and the church... you have a good comfortable life... youre not the complaining type... you hate when people complain...

... whatever your reasons are...

its ok

... but its also ok you know... to admit... to yourself... that youve never stopped wondering or missing her... and at times hating her...

its ok to admit that maybe you feel betrayed by your country and your people so why invest into them when they invested so little into you...

its ok to admit that...

you think people should be applauding celebrities for adopting... cuz we all kinda wish that someone irrevocably wealthy had adopted us... i know i sure do...

its ok

that you like being in the house...

im not writing this to say you have to leave

... but i am writing this to say...

one day

if you ever decide

it is worth every piece of courage it will take

to walk out of the house and go into the field

because you will be welcomed home with open arms...

and when you cry...

we will cry with you

and when you rejoice

we will rejoice with you

and when you are confused

we will be confused with you

and when you make an ass of yourself due to bad coping mechanisms

we wont kick you out...

and maybe you will decide to return to the house

but maybe you will realize not only do you love this field

but just how much you have missed and needed this field

... - me

Sunday, November 29, 2009


"바다" she tells me

"baaahh dahhh" i repeat like a sheep incompetent

one year later and i sit staring at the same crayon drawing of the sea

reading "바다" and remembering

how we wrote chalk notes on the board



youre cute

youre hot

youre beautiful

how are you

... 바다 has brought me here again
for you
or me
i do not know

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

rainy day

(i am)
the sight
the size
the sound
of this rain

memories flash in dreams
somehow i still can speak all the words i have forgotten

god bless this lonely billie holiday
god bless this miles davis
god bless coltrane and all that jazz

even buses run more slowly

the coffee is black
and the shop just changed its hours for smoking indoors
its ok i could use the exercise...

god bless the first kiss
the first touch
the first moments of uncertainty
something of the rain reminded me
what thats like
all that nervousness
and skin full of tremulations

... god bless the poet wordsmiths the re-inventors

... i like to keep my life close to me
like to have it all within reach or short walking distance

umbrellas pass by so slow... ly

i like the sound of rain
its like the sound of sitting in the dark of hannah's flat in long beach
brown carpet
california pacific air
jumping on the bed

its like the sound of oregon in the summer

its like a thousand seven plus sounds lived before

all sheeting down so slow as one long swipe across the city pavement

never seen

only heard

somewhere in the distance

... i like this wooden spoon... perhaps i'll take it home with me

but first now to exercise by stepping out beneath the awning

to watch the rain and fill the air with what my lungs are taking in...

none of it really makes any sense (at all)
what is... would have
could have
for each
and every


i did not want to go to julliard
because i knew it was not

but you
what was possible
because nothing said it could not be

and so we both sat dreaming the impossible

so i dont know now what it is /

to have been here
or there

but still we share one thing


and i cannot forget

how much we still want

and youre this
and i
im this

its how the story writes itself

every cliche is true tonight

and no ones gonna come outta this happier

we're just gonna end up


anyways thats all i really ever wanted.

i could never go to julliard

that is where the rich go

but we like to dream this coulda/shoulda

just like how i dream here

and am hurt each and every day by letting go (of) my own coulda/ shoulda

cuz there is none

there is


and its ok

cuz what else is there?

save cept but for a buncha broken dreams

save cept but for a buncha broken wishes

... and anyways no one reads this
save cept but for the dreamers

and what i want when 5 down under plus
is only exaggerated by the five and plus
when really all i mean to say is

- i dont know.

i never will.

she didnt want us

she had different ways of showing it

and now shes happy sending kimchi

like the tears of cabbage is a remedy...

then again...


it is ...

Monday, October 26, 2009

the hope of flowers

and maybe the flowers will tell us today
if we just ask the pavement
"where is she?"
perhaps the leaves will answer
"we saw her over there on our way down to this street"

the sisters behind barking dogs and closed gates
"we dont know go away"
the churches turn their eyes towards god too busy to help

so maybe the flowers will answer
maybe the persimmons will whisper
"she stands gazing here each day at noon come back here tomorrow"

the lazy policemen do their best
giving rides to places we've already looked
the cat with the skin off its back just stares

wounded... we are all so wounded
3 lost girls
wandering the streets
trying to find absolution to the heart wrenching questions carried for one small lifetime
- where is she
ask her maybe she knows...
maybe he knows
the man with the patch o'er his face
maybe he can tell us
where she went

mumbling phonetically "mah-chee-so" "mah-chee-say... mah-chee si... mah-chee si si-yo"
she breaks the moment with a pair of socks
knee high
we smile
for the absurdity of the moment

- will the flowers tell us?
do they even know?
i doubt the birds will speak
when even halmunis amble off
and god's workers are too busy lighting candles / saying prayers
if this were america i would tell you that the policeman was fat and sitting behind a desk chewing on his bakers dozen donut...
but this is korea
so instead he was average height and weight and giving us vitamin drinks happily chattering on about his son and how neighborhoods get re-assigned and how he should do better at his job

if this were america i would tell you that inbetween the search we got id'd for beers
but this is korea
and we chewed thoughtfully on fried dried squid ordering a second round of something new - something blue...

i do not know if and when the trees will choose to speak
what they and they alone know the answer to
for they were there at birth
and are witnessing the return with seeming utter indifference
only caring about their own seasons
with little time to answer us

and the cat seemingly deaf to its own horrific wound just stares
and the policeman returns home to call his son
and we smoke cigarettes behind vans to not be seen
to take another taxi
to walk another street
to wander counting numbers - knocking ringing doors

the half full moon turned yellow
is telling us the answer

but we lack the language
muttering only phonetic repetitions of new words learned
gurgling like babies

meandering like sheep

some look on with suspicion others round the corner looking for the tv host and fame

the flowers
maybe they know

come now... take my hand... and we'll all three go and ask them...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dangsan morning

and morning comes
and we are here
we are here

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

upon return

so im re-instating this blog now that ive moved (back) to korea

... just that statement... is fully loaded

move to


move back

... wrapped up in the conundrum of being korean born western raised

leading to thoughts and questions of

- how exactly am i perceived here

korean americans"kyopos" - which is to say those who grew up in the states with korean parents who made a choice to leave korea - tend to not view korean adoptees as being korean...

korean adoptees often do not see themselves as being anything but white

... theres a lot of writing going on right now about this whole identification and its evolution

today i read something that struck a chord

to be an ibyang - an adoptee

- you spend much of your childhood identifying as western and white

and then for many (not all) around one's 20's/30's - there is a... beginning... in which reclaiming ones "korean-ness" begins
and so as the writing stated - this is often perceived by others as being... "wishy washy" - when really it is a slow evolution that is ongoing...

... it is often believed / thought amongst ibyangs that "korean koreans" (those who were born and raised in korea) - see kyopos as ... traitors because they chose to leave...

ibyangs... we believe ourselves to be perceived differently because it is understood in the very definition of our label that a choice was made for us without our consent... before the age of consent...

... but the truth is... i dont know if any of us really know how "korean koreans" perceive any of us...

maybe they see us as we see ourselves... but i dont think that is likely... seeing as there is no way to explain what it is like to spend the good part of your life believing yourself to be white and quite often doing things to ensure that the rest of your social circles perceive you as no different than them

... who knows... maybe we are just another search/reunion tv show to be watched by ahjumas and halmonis...

maybe we are... these strange outsiders that no one really knows what to do with - and its not like any of us as individuals can help because we're so busy trying to figure out how we see ourselves as individuals...

... in a sort of egoism that is wrapped up in trying to understand my own identity... i cant help but look at my "korean korean" friends and think:

"how exactly do you see me? do you see me the same as any other foreigner? do you see me like a kyopo? do you see me as someone to be pitied? do you even really care that you - you my korean korean brothers and sisters have lost over 200,000 of YOUR own people to international adoption and that there is a 1 in 68 chance that you or a family member knows a korean whose life has been directly affected by adoption... do you feel this loss?"

... i think a lot about... how choosing to search for my umma... was also an unknowing commitment to the possibility of insanity...

since finding her for all the amazing good... how exactly do or could i ever explain what it means to be almost 33 (34 korean) and have your entire sense of self flipped inside out... and for the months that have followed since to still feel so uncertain of what my reactions will be to any given situation...

situations that i used to be able to predict my reaction to

... and im not sure exactly when it is that i will re-discover this ability to predict my own reactions...

... and i have absolutely NO idea as to if/when i will ever feel any true sanity about having found my umma

... on one hand yes - the story of finding is akin to a fairy tale - and i remain mindful everyday of just how fortunate i am... and how i NEVER want to appear to my fellow ibyangs as complaining when i know so many would give everything to have this... to have even just a name or a photograph...

... but on the other hand... it is the most lonely frustrating uncertain thing... there are no role models for this ...

i dont know how im supposed to react

... and to live in that inbetween of being soooo happy to have her in my life again and to feel her happiness... and yet to feel constantly that i remain her dirty little secret...

... i dont know exactly why i am here in korea... why i decided to move

what i do know though is that ever since i was a small child i promised myself and whatever kind of god i then and now believe in - that if i ever found her and if she wanted to know me i would do whatever i needed to - to move here

so this is a 3 plus decade old promise...

... and yes... i do feel a sort of resentment - that i have to give up so much for the person who for whatever valid reasons lacked a courage and continues to lack... i do not know if and when she will ever fully claim me as her own... yes i am her daughter and i am her eldest... but im not allowed to say her name aloud... im not allowed to reveal other potentially identifying family history... in private behind closed doors with trusted folk - yes... but never in public - i am not allowed to claim this... to say what most any other child can say without hesitation to anyone - "my mom's name is.... i have this many brothers/sisters/none" etc...

but i also feel the freedom of choice... i made the choice to look for her... and i made the choice to move here and to get to know her... and i made the choice to do this on her unspoken conditions...

i also made the choice to be a part of this evolution... to move here

to live in this very peculiar inbetween for which very little if any precedence has been set... if anything i think that it is our generation of ibyangs (meaning those of us adopted out in the 70s and very early 80s) that are the ones who are setting ... a sort of precedence... a precedence that is based largely on the fact that there will never be any real strong set of rules or standards or guides for others to look to... because


how can you set a standard for something that is so messy

that the more we seek to untangle the more we discover the amount of strings and strands...

i dont know how korean koreans see me... or us... and if they will or could ever see us as what we are - which is one of their own...

because i dont know if we ourselves will ever be able to see us for what we are... which is... one of theirs...

... because the very nature of our existence and our returning is also a reminder of a shameful secret... not just for ummas but for the government and the korean people - each time we appear we are a reminder that the land and country that is so full of beauty and pride

also took part in something so...


... and so i wonder

maybe its easier to keep us at arms distance and remind us how we dont know the language or the food - whilst neglecting the very true reality that there is a reason why we dont know the language or the food and that these reasons have absolutely nothing to do with a choice that we made...

maybe it is easier to only focus on all the things that make us "not korean korean"
to focus on the exciting reunion stories of ibyangs who find their ummas
to ignore that every korean korean has benefited in some way by the selling of us - because we netted profit not just for the agencies but for the korean gov't...
to ignore that not just a few - but many of us were stolen/kidnapped or coerced out of our umma's lives...
to ignore that there is always a possibility that your cousin or brother or sister was sent away and for whatever reasons someone in your family didnt do anything to stop this...
maybe it is easier to instead remind us of just how korean we are not... and how ungrateful we are if we say that we are confused and sad and angry and grateful and

because then all the shameful things can be ignored
because then no one has the responsibility to make sure that the rights of unwed mothers are protected and that those in impoverished circumstances are taken care of...

it means that you dont have to look at me for who and what i am

- one of yours who for reasons that are so messy and complicated was sold to another country to another culture... for money for profit... and no one here did anything to stop it

and no one stopped the selling of 200.000 korean nationals who were sold from their people as babies/small children...



it is more than good to be back here

and yes when my korean korean friends refer to me as "unni" or accidentally turn to me and speak korean... that feels so good

... and it is those little things that i hold onto

and that is how i intend to reclaim what was taken

little by little

bit by bit

Monday, April 20, 2009


all this feeling
memories of there and here
people in my heart
people to sit and cheers with
images to remind
4 months here
forever over there
every little thing is making me happy
even the rotten mouse
- ok no... not the rotten mouse
but every other little thing... brings a smile
and its all like one big dream
even when it happened
especially when it happened
like nothing i have known before like nothing i could ever know again
... and all these friends here
hugging from the heart
telling stories that make julie's eyes roll
and unkle pat me on the back
and josina chuckle
and tricia ohhh

and it just feels good
that now is here

that now was there

that there is still so much more to come

i miss korea
because i love her

but i love here
because i missed here

my heart is not torn
but rather
than before leaving

and so i can be polygamous in my loving
loving here and there

and i can still love just only one
whilst loving so so so so so many others

this is good
this is really good

it was good
it was really good


Saturday, April 18, 2009

ends as it begins

and it ends as it began
and it begins as there is no end
not now
not yet

i go from love
to love
i go

what i came here looking for
i found beneath the moon
"that which was lost"
... is found

glory be to something high
glory be to something large
glory be to something small
glory be to trinity's in pairs

... i go from love
to love

i go from home
to home

i go

what i came here looking for
was behind two doors
- never shall hope for finding cease
in september i still will knock
in september i still will seek

but today
i go
to return
to another life
- a flat without pets
- a car with leather seats and sunroof named "juma weeps"
- a neighborhood that ive dubbed gayborhood
- to friends
i return

to tell them stories
of how even the bad has been good
of how even the loss has been a painful kind of gain

but mainly
just to tell them stories
without saying anything

they'll shout
"you fucker!"

and i will smile
smile at them
call them
- by their names
- hey quasian!
hey lp!
ahhh unkle!
... blowpop... dude...
seoullll... little one what it do yo?
tricia ricicia bicia smicia icia delicia!

- oh youre the ones i love
how did i the orphan child get so lucky? was frank o'hara writing poems for me?
how did i the one born to nothing end up with so much everything?

theres 12 of us tight
13 if you count me
... who said it was some unlucky number
... its the most blessed one
we're like jesus and his 12 - only each of us is deified

... yeah my gayborhood
yeah yeah my loves
and still theres more... the list
the list
how did the hiding one
end up with such a list?

... and then theres here
all that remains to be discovered

i go from love
to return to love
to love
i go
from love


... and you i came looking for you
and there you were
in a leather jacket
your lines i have memorized
... and i came looking for you
and there you were
calling me by name

and you i wasnt even looking but oh how you have appeared each one of you - some of you as friends... some of you as friends to be... some of you as fun time lovers... some of you as ones to down the drinks with... some of you as laughter... some of you as hazy in morning light... some of you as ... fashionista compadres... some of you as... distractions for a late january early february ache... some of you as... everything bright and beautiful... and some of you... though i would not wish it... lost gone away with the falsity of allegations... but even then... even then... you remain... something more than nothing...

and one of you as my forevers till death us do part and even then we will be together even then ... for love... ... for love... for love will not be torn asunder even by corrupt traffickers of children
and another of you ... i do not know only that i have known since first meeting that you were one to always look to find... like a magnet to links of alpine forged metal....

these circles
completing and beginning

this is not the end
it never was
this has always ever only been
the next part of beginning

and ... so i go

from love
to love

i go..

go i...

a she who sins
a 시인

go we i

april and september are full of love goodbyes hellos and glory

this is how the night it turns to day

walking on the top of time

... and the boys shout kim
and the girls pull out bucket shots
but tonight
its an empty glass
empty bottle
- so much living takes place in such a short amount of time
like how love and light get in
like how...
the night
it always ends in a certain kind of

and theres so much to say
so much to tell

but everything that means

... im the present future remembering the five second ago past
already mourning

and god
gives no

cept this song

... always

theres a song

... i love-a-you who does not love-a-me
not like that
whatever thats supposed to mean
cuz me
i (just)
what it is i came here looking for

and you know what this poem is
cuz its for you
and everyone else applauds saying
"bellisimo more!"
whilst my heart falls down my sleeve

... cuz i love-a-you who does not love-a-me

and this is how the light
its been getting in

and one day
i'll get drunk enough to smash the windows of those liars
(goddamn she came looking
and now i know that there is a hell)

birthing land
youve returned my tears to me
dried beneath the florida palms and grapefruit trees
resurrected before the spring of cherry blossoms

oh how i love-a-you that does not love-a-me
but how i am returning

soft feet padded like the fall of leaves
memories of shouts and hugs dimmed

only you

you alone...

remain luminous

walking towards (the) time

walking atop 구월

Monday, April 13, 2009


so he says to me
"sounds like... "

"nah... no... really?"
says i

"god no cant be... fuhhh-k"
i mumble in exclamation to his
"uhhh yeah it is"

"so whats the point...
cuz you see im the kinda person who
always has
lived by

... meanwhile the fat-ass cat is licking the inside of my favorite
one of favorite
pairs of boots
- ass-hole - i yell at him
to i realize that
i dont speak kitten
and the thing isnt a "he"

so what good does any of this
do me

"makes you human
time will show
and tell"

my postbox remains

my bed
ok its not MY bed its my friend's that im crashing on when shes outta town
this bed
its stained with
trying to recouperate
trying to move on

and im gonna get in trouble for writing all this stuff out loud

and my ex
who i swore
i never wanted to
see to
talk to
not once
not ever again
after that kind of humiliation
lack of genuine respect
- is the first i can think to say

and i dont KNOW what to DO
what it is im realizing
as if
hand-written letters make anything better
as if

god and then i look at a photo and realize
- it is that isnt it

and just hearing that come out of my mouth before i can restrain it
is exasperating enough
cuz its me admitting what would be so much simpler to just

... and no amount of swear words are gonna help me
and no amount of antidotal wisdom
(the word wisdom within brackets)
is gonna help solve change
the one thing that one sided flea bitten
fuckin blah blah blah

so yeah maybe
maybe thats what it is ive been feelin'

but i wouldnt know
cuz i mean look at me
im not the type to admit to


'sepcially not
the stupid lame-ass word called


Sunday, March 29, 2009

what we call in

and i dont know
how this story ends
or even where/when

but i can tell you the first day
was re-birthing

and i called her from the page
or she called me

saw her in the upper back right row

and she began to answer

she gave me her
kept it safe in

and now

... i unwind
stop stop stop
go go go go
begin again


and the curtain was not falling
the rope was not cut
she called her baby into being
i called my umma into knowing

and i did the thing i said id never do

stretched limbs
let go
holding back

told her my whole story
and in the middle of the writing
she calls my name

(oh the irony)

... tell me laurie

did you know this all along?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

musings on 4 months

and she says
"whatd you come here looking for?"

accusing me of wanting

cuz everybody

... "to create the world with you"
is what i want to say
but its only the 2nd day
so i just say

cuz the kind of something that shes asking
isnt about
its about
- something

speed the streets ahead
traffic zooms by
and she no longer asks

and we joke
pork wrapped in sesame and lettuce leaves
how everybody choose their alias' now
"we know we're ending up in the book"

"the book"
like im bout to birth the bible
like im bout to birth the next best great thing
i am)
im not)

for 32 years 362 days ive dreamt that sea
and now im safe inside
from its crashing
because now
ive seen it

and in the inbetweens of late night drinking
the sentences are forming

and in the late night inbetweens of acting out of lusts
the paragraphs are being shaped

for i have memorized your lines
can recall them in my fingertips
can feel still
your hands covering my ears
protecting me from the sounds
calls for
goods to buy and sell

and you?
you were only ever just an excuse
to move on from
what i want but cannot should not have

and you?
you were just a hand
against my flesh

and you?
you were
you were there
to prove i have no high ground for some kinds of

but you
its always been you

the you who five years later maybe the story could be different
but we met
when i was wearing blue
and no matter all the bad
so much still
is beautiful to recall

you are my favorite
from this time
i didnt just come here looking for her
i also came



if you would

i have my whole life ahead of me
its begun again so many times

have seen and met
the most interesting of all things

the goodness of my life
is not lost on me

but that will never change just how much more i want...

... "i dont write love poems" i tell her
"yes ... you do" says she
and then lets me pretend that i just dont

she turns her back when i leave
but thats ok
i got exactly what i came here looking for

i saw her smile when no one else was looking

so i can go out into the last days here

and write the kinds of things it is that i write

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

a small wondering

what is it
diamond shining in the sky
over city scapes
and this night compels
and this day it maintains
and i am black toque'd
i am grey jeaned
hair pulled back

leather jacket

and youre the one i dream of
when awake

do you know
just how much i have seen
come and go
in a time so

4 months
and i have seen the rises and the falls
thrown money down upon the tables
been slapped with the backside of your hair
"go away"

come back
is what i whisper

and you are now mine
forever and a day

i have lived so much
in just months
and watched circles large and small
fall in upon themselves

watched winter fade
stood beneath slow snow falls
outside the cafes of hongdaes

gained and lost
lost and gained

in such a short space and span of time

and still this one circle
small to others
large to me

i wonder
if thats the diamond that i keep seeing in the sky

wonder if thats
the thing thats been blinding me

... cuz i just
cant stop looking


Sunday, March 22, 2009

(the) cherry blossoms

i want to
see the cherry blossoms with you
watch them fall
down our cheeks
see sky cry
cry the sky pink
cry the sky that ive been dreaming on the big screen
not geisha
but gisaeng walking proud
looking upwards

and the women are not here today
and i dont care what it is he has to say bout finite resources
i just want to dream in the rain of blossoms

and for all my wanton ways
my heart it believes the softest (of) things
can be sent fluttering at the thought of pink petals floating
can cry for things not seen
but felt

and even if
i miss you everyday
i will not speak it
instead i will stand stalk tall silent
and let the tears of trees encompass
everything that im not saying

i want to see the cherry blossoms in the spring with you
days before leaving
but because i cannot
i will go with others

and i will cry for memories
of the circle that we started
but cannot yet

for we like cherry trees
both come from something

heart breaking

letting words drop from our
soft smooth limbs
that sends the wind into
the woods

and leaves us

calling forth the start of
yet another

beneath the sky that is
kissing us with

Friday, March 20, 2009

what they say

and they tell me
"youre sooo korean"
when i say how much i love
and they tell me
"youre soo korean"
when i say
"hell yes i love dried squid... especially with mayonnaise"
and they tell me
"youre soo korean"
when i tell them samgyupsal's a favorite but gobchangs even better but no matter what
there must be


... and then they giggle when i cant even say my own mothers name right
not just her name
her title


and thats when i go back to being

(damn those g.i.'s were stupid
thinking migook meant "me gook")

and then i go back to being a western waygook
i cant order off the menu
or tell the taxi driver slow and broken
"wenjok... juseyeo"
but it sounds
(coming outta my mouth)
more like

"when-joke joo say-owe"
and everybody snorts a laugh

and thats when i want to punch

bout how
"well maybe i could say these things correctly
if youd just taken the time
i dont know

but then they clap and smile
say my name
tell me it is beautiful
and just how korean i am
cuz my hair is black
and my waist is thin
and i love gobchang
so damn i must be korean
cuz i love the makkoli man

but ive met white girls more korean than me
and all us ibyang can barely say our korean given names
the other day she corrected me on my own name
and i blushed
cuz maybe she was right
but (sometimes) i dont trust the ibyangs
much more than i trust
the agencies

and they tell me
when theyre not speaking
just how korean i look
but then again i know words that only insiders know
words like
and thats something just the ones who give themselves new names

and i announce to laughter
the laughter of koreans
"thats right - im an ibyang iban"

like we all know

and maybe youre my sister
more likely somehow so my cousin
cuz my halmunnee's descended from some place high
and im your bastard relative

and anyways
im not korean
and im not american
i know europe better than i know here

and they tell me everything of who i am
cuz of what i like to eat or drink
as if soju makes me more korean
as if the entrails of farm animals give me right to kinship
its in my blood
its in my dna
but i know ibyang who run from sight of fish
does that make them somehow more

"you know nothing"
i wanna yell
whilst glancing black hiigh heeled leather boots that pin prick along concrete floors
leaving echoes the way that ghosts leave sounds behind

"i love nachos too does that make me mexican?"

but here its different

here its like
the acceptance that i never got on pre school playgrounds
when white boys would sit atop the big log tunnel taunting
"chinese japanese"
(i know now even they did not know what they were saying...
father, forgive their parents for raising such small white beasts)

they tell me how im so this or that
in europe it was the same
canadians mistaking me
for lithuanian
in a land of lily white

mistaking me for always being what im not.

ive got a white mama and a white papa
and a tall white bro
but that still dont make me white

and i know where my generations come from
im descended from the mountains and the sea on the east coast side of this continent
ive the seen the waves and soil

and the one im looking for
finding her has changed everything and nothing
cuz i still can wake up
broken hearted crying
for the lust i lost the night before
for the lust i cut off just months ago
for the friends i miss
for the girl who has to think before saying hi to me
so none of that has changed

but all the wondering
that whole thing looks different

but the questions remain just as dumb

and they tell me
just how korean i am
just how american i am
just how european-ized ive become

and i wanna tell em all
wanna scream it shout it when everyones just busy with their day and drinks
"you fools
im not just
im not so how
iban ibyang who loves gopchang soju nachos cepellini seour cream svyturys words by kerouac and asian american beat slam poets
im the latest trend
that hollywood stars are showing off
hybrid cross culture gay ass korean born american raised european lived iban ibyang kimchi eatin' dunhill light-uhh hybrid poet writer
gluttonous lustful womanizing
but still i believe in love


got lost
15 times
along the way"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

decompression for the days

oh korea
drunk and tilting
bodies writhing
passing out on bar top corners
coming to for another shot
tongues wrestling forbidden fruits
korea's slanting on a hill
outside the walls the words read
large in white

... dirty man covered in foundation
oggling me like im his future twink
and im sipping cass

so many times like these
when thinking

"how-m-i ever supposed to write home 'bout this?"

oh korea

everyones gonna get the wrong idea

like this is all that we've been doing

watching people down their drinks
and sandwich dance on white blocks

(cuz even then
the light
it still gets in)

so much happens in four months
so much happens in a night
a day
some weeks

closeness gained lost gained and lost again

how is it that letting go is just a form of clinging?

i dream with henry miller

how one day

this will just all be different

... i think of jack
like me

like im becoming

i refuse to die of rotted guts

but some days after nights like last

i wonder if with every single act of redemption - im not just on my road to hell

in the middle of the day
in the middle of the night

i chant your name

for words to change what wishing does not

... even inbetween these lines

im whispering

inbetween the bodies writhing on the makeshift stage
inbetween the passer-outers at the bar
inbetween the wrestling tongues
inbetween the cards turned over

cuz the light

it never leaves

so maybe one day somehow

you'll look up without knowing

and say my name too

and we'll wander paragraphs together

like writers do

Sunday, March 1, 2009

blah blah ramble ramble one of many more

and when distraction ends
and life begins
theres the uttering
and muttering
to retrieve
to make kind what was once cruel

and the distraction of the dumb
is habitual
to the truth of

and the distraction of the less than
is not to fill
but to forget
if even for a moment
of why it cannot be
even though
i cannot help
my heart

and the weeks that have now turned to months
to life that is
everyday living
i now must begin
to face a truth
one too many

of everything thats been so easy to
cover up
less than stimulating

just like television
sometimes the brain kill
is necessary
to find where it is that

and my heart is with you
and my desire is with you
and my wish is for you
and my missing is you
and my dealing is you

and the objects in my hands
im setting down
the paper dolls that ive been dressing up

and i can hear my friends a whispering
i can hear their voices in my head
and how they save me daily
and how they bring me back to mine

last night i dreamt of chocolate cake
and somehow it tasted good
inbetween the headache that was waking me
reminding me in sleep
the truth of

and one day i will write this thing
that is gestating
and wonder where it will take me

oh lover of words
oh word lovers
godots of my daily
i dont want the hyperboles that are whizzing round my head
i want the fruition of my sentences
the same fruitions
that brought us here
that keep us here
that will not let us go

we are made of water
and everything between us now
is just

Thursday, February 26, 2009

just before the dawn

and this is korea
young and drunk
stumbling on the streets
from midnight on
up until

just before
the dawn

and this is korea
reeling in her own secrets
unravelling truth
bit by bit

just before
the dawn

and this is korea
not knowing her own family
meeting secret in the alleyways
and side street restaurants
downing soju

just before
the dawn

and this
this is korea

wretching in her own lies
pummeled in the gut
to spill out the things that shes been hiding

just before the dawn

this is when we meet
irritated by denying affections
and a propensity for filling space and time
with candlelight

this is korea
stewing in her family marts and buy the ways
la mein slurping
gophchang gorging
mek ju guzzling

just before the light gets in
just before

the dawn

this is korea
sending us out into the hours
just before the dawn does break

taking breaks to drop defenses
and letting all our softness show
and then running
without moving


this is korea
just before the dawn

just when the end of darkness and beginning of light do meet
in a sort of truce

before the streets are washed down
from last night's reveling
just before the first shop door clatters up
when even buses roar more like a whisper
and the subways tunnels are barren for a moment

this is korea
just before the dawn

this is me
before memory
in a makeshift carrier
packed prepared for export
in the cover of pre-dawn

so that korea
can sleep peacefully
ignoring all her sins

whilst ummas mutter secret prayers
for redemption
and their children wake to see the day
not knowing
never knowing
how before the dawn
their father spawned another
how before the dawn
their mother was once young
and single
in dread of a morning light that may never come

this is korea
speaking truths in halves at most
saving face
burying in orphanages and catalogues - those who might one day bring family disgrace

this is korea
young and beautiful
high heeled in high black leather boots
long black haired
chic and squared

this is korea
skinny jeans
three men falling
girls arms linked giggling

impervious to none and all

baby selling
soju drinkin
garlic roastin
kimchi eatin
ajuma weepin
ibyang searchin
secret hidin
drama makin
soft heart breakin
drink down fallin
beautiful high heeled wearin
fashion settin
us as one
out into the early morn

just before the dawn

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

morning gestations

(camera phone photo of sinchon at 10.46 this morning...)


everything's still wet from its morning washing down
concrete with a glossy surface

bustling in the late afternoons
quiet as innocence
before noon

its a sort of stillness
that makes me wonder on
kerouac's san francisco blues

like somehow
here in seoul
i can hear his thoughts

... light morning drizzle
reminding me of my grandmother's garden in corvallis

... the sidewalks swept clean of last night's cigarettes

even the fastest moving objects seem to move more slowly at ten forty six aye em

not lonely

the kind of calm that poets love
the kind of innocence that writers wonder on

like everything is tangible

like each one of us at our most honest
no walls
no facades
moments that we rarely show

just pure

like a morning kiss to the forehead

tenderness without wanton lust

... seoul in the morning
is not the seoul i know at

and i

i love her two extremities

for both are truth

i was
born of her

Monday, February 2, 2009

this is how...

this is the way the light gets in
this is the way the

through the window sqaures of goshiwans
through the bedsheets borrowed
through the truths spoken between the darkness of false allegations

this is how the light gets in
this is how the light

through the unexpected things that bind two people into 3 then 4 then 5 then 6
through the moonjas that set phones spinning
through the arrogance of shyness

this is how the light gets in
this is how the story does begin

from the opening of a door
from the recognition of a heart
from the sobs howled in the kitchen in the farmlands mountainsides ocean coastlines

this is how the light
getting in
hear me now
this is how
the light

through a memory of asking questions
and the dropping of your defenses
to the resurrecting of your walls
through stumbling along the streets
to avoiding everything that cannot be ignored
or drowned

this is how the light gets in
this is how the light
does glow

through the nights of 15 shots too many stolen items and forgotten moments
to the two sandwiches in the fridge

this is how the light
getting in
this is how the light

through her 56/33 years of secrets
to her 65 years of deterioration
to the need for peace when there can be no
"happy ending"

this is how the light gets in
this is how the light
seeps through

through the shit and the fuck
through the hosed down jagged streets
and mopeds sonic roars

this is how the light gets in
this is how the light moans through

inbetween the dining
inbetween the cat and dog hair
inbetween the extremities of silencio and raucous rousing

this is how the light gets in
this is how the light

this is where the begin again keeps taking place

this is where
this is how
this is when

the light

it keeps getting in

one small square
and a city view
can turn luminous

just open up the shutter
and you'll see


this is how the light

keeps getting in

this is how
this is when
this is why
this is where
this is now

the light its

getting in

and i

inbetween the sound of trains and a city that just begins to move at five at night

i can hear the light

its getting in

and ive got

my camera


Thursday, January 22, 2009

things i dream of

sitting in a coffeeshop dreaming of a day
the day

living in the days when dreaming of -
might not be so
far reaching:

i dream of the day when
korea will stand up and say in one collective voice
"no more will we send our children away. no more will we sell our children for profit."

i dream of the day when
governments, systems, celebrity collectors of other people's other country's children, and money hungry agencies will no longer strong arm parents into giving up their children when all they want to do is raise them...

i dream of the day when
ibyang and their ummas will raise arms side by side without shame without secrets without lies without separations...
throw back their arms and cause seoul ... busan... daegu... every small village in korea... every white family in the west - to see their hearts and for all to say "no more. no more can we do this. no more can we separate"

and for holt and kss and every single agency existent and no longer running to take all the millions that theyve earned off the selling of korea's chidlren - and give these profits to open shelters for single ummas who want to keep their children - who will put the money back into impoverished families who do not WANT to have to give their child up but dont have the income to keep them... to put their greed back into educating the people... for agencies to apologize to us for what it is that they have done... to fall prostrate at the feet of ummas and say "forgive us" ...

i dream of angelina jolie and brad pitt no longer being celebrated on the covers for adopting children - that instead they'll take their millions to help support the countries that they say that they feel so much compassion for... that they will work to enable parents in the 3rd world to be able to keep their children

i dream of the day when people magazine will lambaste madonna for stealing a father's son

i dream of the day when no one will call these dreams - impossible... when one day it will be a reality

i dream of the day when our place of origin will never be foreign for another child turned westernized adult

i dream of the day when... assimilation will cease to be the goal... when korean born western raised men and women - boys and girls will never look in the mirror saying "my skin is such a lie... if only i looked as white as i am inside"

... i dream of the day when single ummas in korea who kept their children - will be given every laurel wreath accolade that they deserve - will be given the support that they are owed... that they and their child will never want... that they and their child can be... can become... all they wish to be... for their neighbors to lift the ceiling - showing sky

i dream of the day when... words like these will be celebrated for the(ir) fulfillment... will be looked back upon as oh so distant past

i dream of the day when the loss that each and every 200.000 plus carries - will be washed away... will be filled with every joy calm and peace that comes with just knowing who it is you look like - where it is you come from

i dream of the day when 200.000 rise up from the sea - onto land - plant feet - and discover the(ir) roots that have been whispering for them all along

i dream of the day when...

children do not have to apologize to adoptive parents for asking questions - when chidlren do not have to say "thank you" to adoptive parents for being "saved" from "the orphanages of korea" ... when the truth of every single orphan and adoptee - umma - when OUR truths can no longer be ignored... that the rising up will be so great... that the volume of our truths will be the thing that causes every man woman and child in korea to set down the objects in their hands - crane necks... join us on the shores... bring us into land... and close the doors for good of agencies...

take our hands


reclaim us

take our hands

and say

"never again will we ever let another one of ours be sent away"

- i dream of this day

i dream of this day

this is the day i dream of

and this day

it begins with me

it begins with you

it begins with each one of us

to let go the self

and dare to dream with full passion

... so that this

this thing

this thing that has been done to us

has happened to us

will never

happen to another

to work towards this

to strive towards this


dream towards this

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

dust ...

(photo from last yr - seoul at night)

and flesh it turns to dust
burned down in the flames

only our souls are worth their weight


we're just a giant mass of
with 21 grams of

and the girl
the boy
the man
the woman

theyre just molecules

and to do
or not

to be

thats just a dust storm
rising in this

thats just the chaos of
scientific theories
speculated on by other bits of dust
- dust contemplating its own composition

made from nothing
made from dust
- dust the excess flaking of the skin
- the skin excess bits of flesh
- the flesh thats shaped of excess dust left over from the earth and its departed
filled with light
so easily distracted by other dust-ly shapes
ignoring our own
21 grams of

ashes to ashes
dust lusting for other clumps of dust
to huddle with
to find comfort with


and 4 plus 2
that makes 6
divide that six by the 2
and youre back to

some kind of


21 grams
and one too many pounds of kilos

dust forgets its one
only thing
that matters

and my soul
looks back
to see
what it has gathered
and what it will

and one day
shall be comprised
of my
feeling self important

Monday, January 12, 2009

parts of a day


and the 500 saints
that refuse to get up for breakfast
singing songs in a temple

5 rotten tomatoes
too many too count
its too early
for me to number things
in my head
not too early
to stand with fingerless gloves
drinking coffee
from paper cups
smoking dunhill "light-uhhs"

monday morning
and who wants to go to church
let alone
sunday school class

last night dreaming of chests
smothered in

last night dreaming of
wagging tongues
and smiles

the only way i know
how to tell you bout
how im understanding you
is to tell you bout
how im understanding me

and the anger
it runs deeper than a river
she is both the
and the
part of

and for this i both

and you wanna talk betrayal?
ive met my judas
and shes kissed my cheek
whispered in my ear
telling me
"i lub you"

and its monday
one day after sunday

and jesus is asleep
and jack kerouac is
"on the road"
and im a
"dharma bohmzha"
and the book cover is cobalt sky blue

orion sings at night
whilst the saints do sleep

bukowski's in his resting place
hughes is dreaming beneath a pile of raisins
emily dickinson's
dresses have turned to

i will fall in love with a star
i will fall in love with her dust
maybe i should learn to love
ugly that is beautiful inside
instead of
beautiful that is ugly on the inside

but im lecherous
and cravenous
one time too many

and my inbox is full of spam
promising me things
that i pay fortune tellers to predict

and god
and jesus
and the buddha of this temple
smile on from books and paintings
whilst children
run amuck

and i write you letters
bout absolutely nothing
write you letters about absolutely

and this joy and anger
are biting through the morning air

i should go buy some gloves with fingers
but i like the rag tag
like the rag tag all too well

and i dont want just either or
thats always been
my problem

i want the beautiful that is gorgeous inside
want the star that shines from inside out
want the saints to wake
angels to gather on the beach
call up the sun

and bring tomatoes
back to

and give me nights
that wake me
full of

words like these.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

how a 시인 is redeemed

* caution to the wary - this is a ramble on... headed no place particular cept where it pauses and concludes -

dont know why... it just is this kind of delight

when words have double meanings and double sounds

some love children

some love animals


i love words

care for them in the most tender insane way
will fight for them
do fight for them

arrange them in my mind the way that florists give thought to flower placement / combinations

one meaning can enhance another

one meaning can - delineate - another

one word when placed beside another has the power to bring out more color from the ones around it - and yet the ones around one word can serve to illuminate that certain choice

its a love unexplainable
a delight
that escapes the confines of a sentence
or a

even dictionaries cannot contain the meaning
some invent with what exists
writers write to exceed drab banalities

words can make the hearts of women
can inspire the ambitions of men
can win back what was lost
make singers worth listening to
and others

its not just "love what you do"
- love how you do what it is you do

- yeah true - anyone can write anyone can draw anyone can paint cuz everyones an artist
'cept wrong -
"everyone's got creativity" is how it should be written
cuz artist - smith - poet - writer - author - playwright - musician - etc etc etc
- those are the ones who arent just touching on their "creative side" - but striving to master... striving to perfect... striving to strive... and creativity is a tool within all the other skills

and some like to say - youre such a snob
to which i say:
what so elitist about loving?
whats so nose up in the air to fall at the feet of a word well placed? a move well crafted?

just cuz you own paint
doesnt mean you are a painter

just cuz you can spell
"dont make you no writer"

... and theyre gonna lambast blast me for all of this
-cept maybe the sinners who get called "시인" (oh how i delight in the similarities of sounds words and the play of go-between)

and yes yes yes its a well known fact that i have this sometimes way of living that makes others smack their heads
i have another way that goes deeper

and it brings this smile to my face to think the phrase in meaning / sound "that bar is full of 시인's" ... say it say it say it - good god that is greatness in the most word nerd of ways

... and you think you know me?
chances are
you know one thing or the other
ignoring combinations

cuz its the spaces inbetween that say the most

words - they are the best and worst of me
alliteration onomatopoeia annunciate
(sometimes slammers have only that and that can be so beautiful in its own without content kinda way
dont get me wrong i cant slam
but only few can slam with great poetry
and i fall prostrate wordless beneath their mics)

and here's a random inbetween

- sometimes i forget that i did not just live
but that i LIVED
in lithuania
that i know how the lights of klaipeda feel
that i can still feel the bitter cold from the baltic sea
that i can taste bambola's pica in my mouth
hear kurpiai jazzing in my head
that the cobblestones of here remind me of the ones along the gatves there
that i have 2 plus years of memory
and with those memories come
... feelings
that could never be framed by words
... only fragments
... and only those who were there ... well i could say one word and theyd know the full novella

- kretingos gatve
- maxima
- yellow submarinas
- karklu
- kranai
- the spit
- 12 chairs
- svyturys
- peda
- jocelyn
- 4th floor
- 11th floor
- degtine and the sky

... and in those words are hours.... days... months... years

and in those words
are people

and this


this is why i love words
the way that some love

cuz loving words
is loving people
loving words
is loving memory
loving words
is loving music
loving words
is loving every single goddamned good/bad moment
loving words
(for me)

it is to live

and yes

i am a 시인 who does sin
but i am also a