Thursday, October 30, 2008

The American Way



The American Way is suffocating.
somewhere in the midst of sixty hours
And motherhood.

the American Way is losing its way.
somewhere in the chaos between
the (deception of) Convenience and the (sickness of)

i am breathing but I am barely living.

Hail the spoiled and
the prosti-tots.

Rotting. in their thrones. of
stilettos and lime lights.

hike the skirts. tighten the halters—
and lay them on the altar:


our most tender of meats)



embrace a new profession:

the independent
butcherettes. and pimpettes—

their daughters’ favorite

because every girl needs a best friend. who understands. a pal

who descends


the sell-off of innocence.

Slaughter it.
Bleed it.
Hang it on a hook,

for all the world to see. smudges and fingerprints
fogging up the window,

like the tongue licks
of dirty dogs
panting and pacing,

back and.

the only way we point
is back and.


at presidents and welfare recipients.
at terrorists and immigrants.

we congratulate our foresight:
as we congregate—

at the burning stakes—

frothing, behind our lips.

with thick.

running down our throats.

we. Are. the morons:

designating villains. we wash our palms,

we should be.




greed clothed in a veil of comfort: no one wants to be left wanting.

(the rest of the world is left needing = dying) / (sacrifice = two dollars = the rest of the world can wait + starving)

this model does not apply.
to me.
your calculations show bias.

I. am. Not. one of the rich ones:

all I own is twenty-two hundred square feet (on an acre and a half). and my garage has no heat. i can only play golf. once a week. my Hondas and Toyotas are at the end of their leases. pity me, please, it’s a pity. we can’t afford a jet ski. or that private jet—and my wife can’t shop. at. neiman marcus. nordstrom’s only for special occasions.

a dime for your brother.

but who is my brother?

do not tell me he is the one who made the clothes my sons are wearing.
do not tell me he is the one who made the shoes my daughters are wearing.
do not tell me he is the one who grew the rice I am eating.
do not tell me he is the one who picked the fruit I am swallowing.

do not tell me he is the one who died digging for the jewels my wife is dawning.

my brothers are the ones I can touch.
the ones with whom I can watch the game. play the game.

We all play the game.
the American way.

proud. And loud.
when we are winning.

proud. And sore.
now that we are losing.
the American way.


to lose our way may help us to find our way.
the way.

far away.
from Here.

i am straying from this way.
pursuing that which is askew.

i will go searching for.
my brothers.
pockets heavy with dimes and tears and sweat.

i hope that.
they will take me in.

and help me to shed this American.



where I will learn.
not to want.
but to need.

more than a thing.
more than to be entertained.

that we may learn to look at one another in the eyes again,

and know exactly.
Without question.

who is our brother

our flesh

our human kin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Burden (poem)


I am not a modern-day woman.
I am diminishing beneath the pressure.
I am a blasphemer and heretic
among the religious

I have tried woman-worship
I have practiced the sacraments of:

exhaustion and. arrogance.
self-sufficiency, and

I am concluding: I am still just
empty. and I am aching. even

this world
was never meant
to be.


Friday, October 24, 2008

A Fool's Winter & Her Tree: Still Searching, Still Waiting...

My heart grows weary, longing for someone who may not exist. Longing to find someone who may not want to be found.

Am I a fool? Of course, I am. I would never deny such an observation.

But dare I ponder that not all foolishness is unproductive or detrimental. It is often those who are willing to appear as fools in the eyes of the doubtful who stumble their way into the most astonishing and enlightening discoveries.

To utilize cliché, it has been said that one should not be afraid to go out on a limb, for that is where the fruit is.

Unless, you happen to venture out onto that limb in the dead of winter.

Then, you just might freeze to death, and find nothing within your grip to show for it.

This is my winter, right now. And this may be my winter always.

This limb out onto which I have crawled may never bear fruit. This tree may forever dwell in the bitter shadows of winter.

So, what shall I do?

Do I build a house here in this cold and barren tree? Or do I cut it down?

As we all tend to discover as life goes on, a middle ground usually finds its way beneath our feet. It is often a bit rougher and a bit more jagged than we anticipate.

Yet such terrain galvanizes the strengthening of our hearts and minds.

I will not uproot this tree just yet. And certainly, I am a fool, but not fool enough to build a house in it.

For now, I suppose I will make the rocky trek to visit this tree from time to time. I will water it and tend to it. I will wait and hope. Perhaps one day, its winter will come to an end, and I will find a tiny bud on the very tip of a limb reaching closest to the sky.

And when I gaze upon that tiny bud, I will imagine all the promise it holds—the promise to bloom with new magnificence. The promise to finally give itself up to bear the heralded fruit.

Just as I now climb into this tree, as barren as it is, and cling to its stark and naked limbs, with the same hope and imagination that one day this tree will smite the winter and awaken its dormant verdure and radiance to give forth all the fruit that one can savor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tragedy: Choi Jin Sil chooses death over life...,8599,1847437,00.html?xid=rss-topstories?iid=perma_share

The above link includes an article regarding the recent suicide of well-known Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil.

It is insights like those provided through this article and even more poignantly and distressingly through the actions of a woman like Choi Jin Sil that confirm in my heart that my birth mother's relinquishment of me saved me, and hopefully saved her as well.

There are aspects and elements of Korean culture that I value and appreciate greatly--the strong sense of family and loyalty, the discipline, the culture of respect and reverence, the food (of course!), to name just a few.

However, time and time again, I breathe a deep sigh of relief when I am reminded of the harsh and hostile environment created for single mothers and their children by a culture that values and emphasizes bloodlines above all else. I sigh in relief that I did not have to grow up in the face of such hostility and ostracization.

Certainly, I have faced other forms of alienation and isolation as a Korean adoptee growing up in America, but nothing close to that which unwed birth mothers and their children must endure in Korea.

Although I have encountered blatant racism, prejudice, and marginalization due to my Asian descent, I have always had family and friends in which I could find comfort and reassurance. Additionally, the opportunities to pursue an education and work have never been prohibited by my race. Most importantly, as I have already mentioned, I have never had to live without a supportive community of friends and loved ones to help me along the way.

Women like Choi Jin Sil and myriad nameless unwed birth mothers face a level of stigmatization and alienation that at one time somewhat existed in America, but has since vastly dissipated, in particular, in comparison to what still remains in Korea.

It breaks my heart for these women.

It also fills my heart with compassion when I think of my birth mother. I can only begin to imagine what she had to endure during her pregnancy as well as throughout the aftermath, if women in similar circumstances today still continue to grapple with the same terror, fear, and loneliness that my birth mother faced over thirty years ago.

I hope that Korean society will respond to the tragic death of Choi Jin Sil not only with deep compassion and concern, but even more so with a sincere and urgent willingness to examine the forces within its cultural dynamic that make suicide a more appealing option than to live out one's precious life.

May love and comfort come to Choi Jin Sil's children during this tragic time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Accretion (poem)



so the fat drips.

the stalagmite:
horror of accretion. conical elevation

inserts a dominance.

my two mamas will meet.
in the Fallopian corridor. one mother, the
conception. one mother, the virgin..

(God and my mother,
stole my tongue. God and my mother,
replaced it with a new one)

first lap of the white lard.
shift in my sleeves and

the marrow will return.


with its incision. and

cells. immaculate.

until the stalactite ceases.
and the fat

completes the migration.
viscera to dissolution.

wave, mothers.
dominance of the marrow.

my favorite friend.

You won't be able to adopt from Korea after 2012..?

The above links include three separate articles regarding domestic versus international adoption in Korea. I wrote the following in response to those articles:

I am a 33-year old Korean-American adoptee living in the United States. I was born in Seoul in 1975, and adopted by a Caucasian American family at about 6 months old through what was the David Livingstone Program & Korea Christian Crusade, now Dillon International & the Eastern Social Welfare Society.

Over the past several years I have slowly but surely become more active in my reading and research regarding the adoption experience and adoption community.

I am encouraged by the efforts of Korean society to cultivate and "normalize" domestic adoption in Korea. However, I am disturbed by the goal to eradicate inter-country adoption.

As a product of international adoption, I can honestly say that I am grateful that I was adopted by my American family. Due to the cultural stigmas surrounding unwed birth mothers & their children, I know that I was afforded so much more opportunity not only materially but psychologically, emotionally, and socially than I would have received had I stayed in Korea.

Now, I will say that if I could change anything about my adoption circumstances, I wish that contact with my birth mother and/or birth father and access to information regarding my birth history and family were not so elusive and so secret. I do find this aspect of my adoption experience incredibly frustrating and discouraging. There are certain elements of Korean culture that affect my adoption experience very negatively and extensively. At times, I truly must fight in my heart to have understanding, so that I do not to find myself embittered toward Korean culture and society.

I realize that complex factors contribute to such circumstances, and that is in part, what people like those of TRACK & ASK are working to ameliorate. I completely support such efforts.

However, to completely eradicate the opportunity or possibility for international adoption frightens me and concerns me for the orphans that such a decision directly affects.

The year 2012 seems too soon to execute such a policy. The burden of the cultural stigmas surrounding Korean unwed birth mothers and their children are still so heavy and still so intertwined within the fabric of Korean society.

Again, I admire and appreciate the efforts of people such as those involved in TRACK. But each adoptee's experiences and perspectives are individual and vary widely. To think that one idea is best for all those involved seems a bit immature and presumptuous.

My husband and I have talked before about the possibility of adopting from Korea. However, it is not likely that we will be able to so before 2012, by which we, as Americans, will be shut out. I find this discouraging personally, and incredibly myopic on Korea's part and those involved in designing such a policy.

Again, I fully support the efforts to help Korean adoptees remain connected to their origins and culture. I, myself, long so deeply to connect with my origins. I make great efforts to do so through language classes, reading, researching, etc.

I also think that helping Korean society to undo the negativity and marginalization surrounding unwed birth mothers and their children is admirable and well overdue!

However, to close yet another door of opportunity for the speechless and powerless orphans involved by outlawing foreign adoption hurts my heart for them and quite honestly enrages me.

It seems like yet another wreckless adherence to the Korean cultural precedence of "saving face." If Koreans truly cared more for the well-being of these orphans than about saving face & honor, then, in my small opinion, all that would matter is that these beautiful children find loving homes, no matter in what country or with what race or ethnicity.

I know that culture is a powerful force, often difficult to overcome or see beyond, but truly, what is best for these orphans? In an ideal and perfect world, such dire situations would be absent. But since we do not live in such a world, it would seem that the more opportunity and possibilities available to these precious children to find loving homes would take precedence over the desire to keep them in the hands of Koreans. These are children, not manufactured goods or services.

Again, I am not against domestic adoptions in Korea. Kudos! That's incredibly encouraging and inspiring that more and more Korean families are adopting Korean children. That only makes logical sense.

However, again, to shut the door on other opportunities for these children to find families and homes seems hurtful and ultimately, not in the best interest of these orphans.

Why must it be such an extreme of either/or? Why not keep all options available, including both international & domestic adoptions, while continuing to work toward the de-stigmatization of unwed birth mothers and their children?

I realize I am only one person, one small voice in a mob of loud, strong voices. But as an adult Korean adoptee, I had to at least take this opportunity to express my small, yet still valid opinion.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Engagement (poem)


magenta flesh
like a fresh. ruby
leaking on my knuckle.

Funeral (poem)


caravan of fattened clouds

off. to mourn.

the blinding of innocence.
the gouging.


Concrete (poem)


a misshapen rug
on a stiff eggshell body

we know--
you are nothing but
a business man's advertisement,
concubine for the profit,

just like Walt's timeless collection
of adolescent

you slept, copulator
with concrete

once you’re concrete— you are concrete.

everyone else's handprints
puppy loves

defining you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Legacy (poem)


emptiness, my legacy.

Saddam has the answer.
America has the answer.

rebuttal putrefies.
in legacy.

emotions taste vast and

spare no expense

Saddam is a crook.
America is a cop.

humanity answers to conflict:
kill. and more killing.

America is a tyrrant.
Saddam is a hero.

nobility is
an omen. the legacy will
corrupt itself:

idols. or ashes.

so, let the Kennedys rest.

but I will not rest.

i will leave no legacy.
i will leave no history.

Saddam you have your page.
America will rip it out.

accident by accident,

on one side, we forget that there are two.
on two sides, we forget that there


a world. fellow man: he is the one
squirming beneath your thumb.

in the pool of your urine and
excrement. he spits back.

the war.

the emptiness. and

the human legacy.

Note: Although I actually wrote this poem over ten years ago, its poignancy and relevancy remain. To some it may come across as portentous, but certainly that was not my intention when I wrote it. I do find it somewhat eerily ominous, however, considering what has transpired in Iraq & the Middle East, subsequent to the writing of this poem. In no way have I ever been politically savvy or involved and still remain as such...Rather, this poem was meant to provoke the reader to ponder, as it states, "the human legacy"...The tension between America and Saddam Hussein, at the time, simply provided a specific, relevant example for metaphor to illustrate the dehumanization that takes place when obsession with power and war begin to dominate; and also that we as individuals, whether we acknowledge it, inevitably share responsibility in this legacy--whether it is a positive or negative, active or passive contribution remains the decision of each individual...

History (poem)


excrement is the life of the world

and history is full of excrement. and excrement- full

of cycles of bloody serendipity. is that why we teach our children to
share. share so that they can learn: everything belongs to them. and that they
can take-take-take.

everyone is supposed to share.


a genocidal assimilation for all the susceptible idiots, the
European egoists call them,
America is an illegitimate child.

spores of self-proclaimed autocrats.

now the individualists are writing books
about the joys of anarchic autocracy. they'll write any-
thing for New York. D.C. feathers are falling down into Tennessee
and Georgia. and Alabama. poor sore Confederates (pouting still with firey, swollen
protruding lower lips)

rebel yelling in their cotton fields. america would have been better off as
a confederate

of plantations. and now america is being infiltrated by foreigners and intruders
state Mr. and Mrs. White in their white and gold Cadillac.
get them out.

and the little devils or angels in their hairy ears, whisper: but we've killed the
remainder. depopulation just by breathing.

I'm so primitive. so why don't I just cut out your heart
and make a pretty little paperweight from all the
cholesterol and coronary lard to weigh down my petitions to my

desk in the swell five-by-five space that you have taken
and then given.

and taken. back. again.

Note: To clarify, although it would seem that I wrote this poem in response to recent events in America, I actually wrote it years and years ago, probably at least 10 years ago...

Puppets (poem)


window screens

into the exonerated,

Hollywood plays the boys and girls,
wire arms and legs, recyclable innocence
(the agent mamas and network papas,
scrubs for the pipelines
to the fountain
of scalpels)
and youth
that speak

stories about stories for our bedtime entertainment

for our children's containment.

one of those standard guide-to-life boxes
to educate, inform, (seduce, induce, reduce…) with a tap, tap

(side note: man-manipulated polymers of that multi-purpose opiate)

this is sad. this is funny. laugh, hilarious.
this is attractive. sneer; this is less than desirable.
this is love: pant and steal, I say: this is love.

the ultimate
companion. in a box

the talk and talkers
all so life-size. how giant they must be,

the ventriloquists they are Geppetto
has created
a monster, he must have smoked a pipe or two
before a towhead angel (impersonator: wings and paper maces
topped with stars are every story writer's cop-out)
emerged (nothing but a capricious

twinkle in that belt buckle)

old man and his
credulous clown-son

Geppetto. were you dreaming?

Pinocchio. just the beginning.


Geppetto is
the donkey's end.

and the lonely, meaningless, thirsty senior citizen,
mad in his
gray moo-stache, mad in his what-you-see-is-what-you-get spectacles
proudly humbled, self-serving-good-intentioned

toy maker.
in your room of Rube Goldberg clocks.

Pinocchio. Pinocchio, his boy (everybody's boy).

Geppetto, your buyers, even the regulars and the millionaires,
just like you and your boy.
just like you and your boy.

weave spin synthesize,
your little miracle tangled now, in millions of strings.

encrypt duplicate,

a renaissance dark age
of technology. back into the drafts
in the corridors,
stone glass caterwauls
with singed

as I shamelessly sit, pressing,
my notebook computer.

Pinocchio is dead, Geppetto.

Geppetto, your ghost chaser is


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Bond of Blood (somewhat a continuation of the entry, "Beyond the Box")

Section I.

I am grateful that I did not have to grow up in need or want.

I am so grateful that I was given a family rich with love and wealth. I am so grateful to have grown up in a family that, even with its dysfunctions, stuck together and provided for one another.

But it is a circular notion for me—this concept of family. And it brings me back again to the question of what is family?

Truly, the concept of family intrigues me.

What is family? It is more than blood. In some ways it affords no choice, and in other ways, family is all about choice.

My birth mother was able to let go of me. As painful as it may have been—and as much as she probably felt she had no other choice, she still decided to let me go. And I became a daughter to a mother and father who were not my blood. A sister to brothers who were not my blood.

And they remain my family as though they are my blood. And truly, even though I have close friends who know me in ways that my family does not, there is an intangible, indescribable quality and connection to family that cannot be replaced or substituted.

Is it simply the time that I have spent with my family—that they are the only people who have known me for all of my life? Is it the choice that we make over and over to love one another because “we’re family.”
And yet, how is it, then, that even though I was a foreigner, this family was able to take me in and love me as their own?

The lines of family blur for me. The concept of family remains simultaneously loosely yet tightly defined in my mind and experience. It is not one side of the coin versus the other—it is the whole coin.
My family truly is my family. I look nothing like them. Personality-wise I stick out just as much as I do physically. Growing up wasn’t always roses, and in fact there were times we could have killed one another without remorse. And even today, it is not as though we are all the best of friends.

Yet, still, you better not mess with my family. Don’t you dare slander or hurt one of my brothers. And don’t ever claim that my dad and mom are not my real dad and mom.

I love and guard them fiercely in my heart.

When I express my misgivings and apprehensions about having children, people always respond to me by saying, “Oh, don’t sweat it. Trust me, it’s different when they’re your own.” Or women tell me, “Once you give birth to that child and you’re holding her in your arms, something special happens.”

And I can’t help but think to myself, “What does that mean?” Because honestly, to me, that logic doesn’t mean a thing to me.

The mother I know and call “mom” didn’t hold me on the day that I was born. She didn’t have that “special connection” from carrying me in her womb for nine months. She didn’t gaze into my eyes on the day I was born and feel that unspoken bond that can exist only between a mother and her child.
Rather, she chose to love me as her own.

The idea of family is in some ways very magical. In other ways, it has nothing do with magic or inherent blood connections. Rather, it is the perception that a bond exists because of shared blood, genes, ancestry, etc. But really this so-called bond may be subject to choice just as much as picking a mate or a friend.

We perceive an inherent bond with our “family” because, well, of course, “they’re family.” And so, automatically we spend more time with them, devote our hearts and lives to them, bend over backwards…because again “they’re family.” They take precedence over jobs or friends, because, why? Yet again, “they’re family.”

And why do we view them as family? For most, it is this perceived biological, blood connection that causes us to assign to them a level of significance and commitment that outweighs other relationships.
Family is from where we came. Our origins. We owe our family due respect and devotion. For without family, we would not have life.

And here, to me, is where lies the truth of family bonds: family is what gives us life. Not simply physiological life. But true life.

For me, family is more than blood and ancestry. Family is the group of people without whom I could not have known love, and therefore, life.

I do not share their blood or their genes. But they took me in as their own.

And even though my mother did not physically give birth to me, she gave me life.

Without her love and devotion to me, without her choice to take me home as her very own daughter, I could have died. Not only a physical death, but an emotional, social, and spiritual death.

In the truest sense, Jeon, Seon Soon was my birth mother. She had the courage to give birth to me and bring me into the world.

My mother had the courage to continue to give me life by pouring her own into mine.

We all know that being a mother or a father is more than simply creating a life. Such is only the beginning and most certainly the easiest part. Yes, being a mother or a father must also involve nurturing and cultivating life, and to me, by definition, must involve the constant giving of love.

A mother or a father is neither, without love.

It does not take love to incubate a life. It does not take love to provide material needs and wants. And although we have basic needs without which we cannot survive, without love we cannot live.

I am ever grateful for my family, with all our quirks and flaws, our annoyances and imperfections—I cannot help but smile and laugh aloud when I think of all the ways in which we are family.

Although I don’t know every detail of each of my brothers’ lives or every thought or feeling of my dad or mom—I do know that there is not a family in the world who could give to me the lifetime of laughter and tears, mystery and wonder that my family has endowed to me.

I love them. They are my blood.

Section II.

There is also this notion with which I grapple regarding the “bond of blood.”

As I have made clear before—I know who is my family. And I would not change who they are for anything in the world.

Yet, as I expressed previously, there does remain “an intangible, indescribable quality and connection to family that cannot be replaced or substituted.”

And here again, I enter the circular question of “what is family?”

For although the family I know is my blood, I still cannot seem to extricate myself from the longing for the family that is also my blood.

Even though I have never known my birth mother or birth father, somehow I still feel wildly and uncontrollably connected to them. Although this blood connection was practically severed on the day that I was born, it has found its way back to me and continues to pull at my heart, at my life, at the core of who I am.

This is a much more difficult issue to resolve emotionally—this issue of simultaneous disconnection yet connection regarding my birth family. The simultaneous sense of rejection and longing, animosity and affection, separation and association.

Why do I long for a people I have never known? What is it that compels me to seek out one with whom I have no connection other than biology and genetics?

To this question, I must ponder the possibility that the power of biology and genetics is more than cold, hard science.

I am not referring necessarily to something mystical. But rather to something inherent, intrinsic.

Why am I so baffled that I would long for my origins? Is it not human to long for that from which we came? Is it not human to long for connection and, with that, meaning?

And what more logical place to go than to where one originated? The beginnings of life remain an ever-mined source of curiosity, inquiry, analysis.

We as humans long to understand. We are not satisfied with mystery. Not that we must ultimately unravel mystery, but rather we love mystery for its ability to be explored, discovered, for its ability to challenge us, inspire us, humble us.

And what greater mystery to provoke such an exploration and curiosity than the mystery of one’s origins?

Who, not knowing from where they came, does not long to know something of those beginnings?

Those who do not question or search, I will not claim to know or understand…yet I do wonder if there is not a piece of who they are that remains tucked away, hidden, just waiting to burst forth if given the opportunity.

Exploring the unknown can feel dangerous and disconcerting—it is to disturb that which is seemingly at peace. But to gaze upon all the wonders of the sea, one must shatter the surface of the water and plunge into its dark and terrifying depths.

And that is the mystery of my Korean family…they are a far off ocean of which I know nothing. It is not that I wish to abandon my American family to go in search of this elusive, unknown Korean family.

Rather, I must hold tightly to my American family—for they are the only family I know—to have courage and strength enough to seek out mystery.

I will always be the creation of the family that chose to become my blood and the family—although unknown to me and I to them—who remains my blood.

I am not either-or. Those who share eclectic origins shed labels and one-way definitions.

When dealing with human identity, it is not a choice "between" but rather the convergence of many.

Hence, I continue to seek meaning and identity beyond the adoption box.



I am walking around in the darkness
up some kind of 90 degree angle.
the math sounds impossible,

but that is just what makes it possible--

in a place like this.

I like to say that my face has character,
"it is well-traveled," I believe I have written
in some other attempt to avoid acknowledging
that I am beaten-down and torn.

(it is the discarded furniture that the euphemistic
qualify as having "charm")--even charm will
age beyond. the reach of euphemism--

so, I buy these labels and
picture boxes and
tiny, round glass jars.

to catalog proof of my humanity:

I tend to claw and ravage
like a starving animal.

something primitive still ticks. and. tocks
in the darkness waiting to be filled among--
the neurons and

where mystery jumps the gaps: you will feel me
with your microscope and tweezers

I am only matter
collecting in your beaker,

vapor rising from
your Bunsen burner.

but the light you poke into the darkness
cannot find its home here.
because the math. here. is impossible--

the absurd and uncooperative angles. inspire
alone the simple--

who cannot be deceived
by the trickery of the
inflated and the greedy calculations of the
man who loves to think we can conquer


I will keep living among the impossible
where my face will continue to gather-- character.

and perhaps, one day, I will no longer
require proof of my humanity--

I will lose my labels and
picture boxes. and
tiny, round glass jars.

I will find no darkness. no gaps.

I will find the eternity of

the simple.

Feather (poem)


I. Prologue

i feel dry. i feel stupid.
thinking that something is lurking,
perhaps there is nothing. the willing victim of
paranoia and speculation. and trying too hard to be prepared.

the best defense is a good offense. unless you're offending the wrong ones.

i'm trying not to leave you out.
i'm trying to let you in.


i feel like i'm trying to force a dead bird.

to fly.


there is no
resurrection for this breathless bird. revive her and
she must start all over—her friends and family have fled.

the feathered idiot choked on all her tears. and seeds that never bloomed.


this cage is comfort and home,
a place to finally rest that beak

from all its pecking and pulling, and
shredding and gnawing

at all the things that kept her grounded and
heavy. and

staring at the shavings. and.
old droppings from

those who have passed on.


there must be a secret. to the flock.
that she has never known.

so, she will give away her feathers,
one by one,

until those who cannot fly
may fly to where
she had hoped to be found.

come all
who wish for wings—

pluck a feather with your fingers.
she will not feel a thing

it is as though she is sleeping

still and silent
on the bottom of the cage—one

wing pointing to the sky,
the other like a pillow on which to rest her


her mind is quiet now
her eyes no longer wander

she lay down so that you and all who dream
could take and grasp

without pain or tear,

a feather.

VII. Epilogue

now i will let my eyes fall upon
your shoulder,

so that they may empty themselves of all
their poison.

all their fire.

all their nightmare: all the paranoia.

i am weary of lurking and. offending and.

trying too hard.

give her breath again.

it is time to sprout
a new kind of feather— that she may rise,
to follow that wing—




for: the heavens.

Chameleon (poem)


the chameleon.
is broken:

here comes, a battalion--
of buckles and,

swinging in,
on a sock-sleeved riot,

will bind her discrepancies:

the unendowed. take what they can. to think clearly

the chameleon smells a parody--
bad lizard.

so they assail her until she stands cocked
to the whistles.

until she is raw. enough. to look--


Defection (poem)



more than a moon
on thrift store light.

discharge this orbit,
heavy musty steel-wool rind

rebel fetus--
crawl and cringe,

keeper Venus goddess womb--
the foreign uterus, so long,

the matriarch.

moon defects.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ad for a birth mother...?

The following is a translation of the "search ad" (as translated by one of the agency directors helping me--i have not edited it for sake of authenticity) currently posted on the web by Eastern Social Welfare Society (the Korean adoption agency that initially handled my adoption back in 1975).

It is hoped that if by some infinitesimally small chance, my birth mother were to come across this listing, she might recognize the information advertised and subsequently, contact the agency. And then, Voila!--a renunion takes place.

If only the situation could be that simple and magical. The fairy tale ending.

Past Name: Yoon, Mi Ra
Current Name: Melissa Chatham [Konomos]

DOB: June 5, 1975 (Correct)
Gender: Female Placed Country : USA
Birth area: Anyang, Gyeonggi-do
Admission date of ESWS: June 10, 1975

Birth mother Name: Jeon * Soon

The birth mother graduated from night time middle and high school while working for General Management Department as a clerk in the elementary school as an office assistant. She came to know the birth father as they lived in the same town of Shieungdong 1 dong and Shieungdong 2 dong. They dated from senior high school. Their both parents were opposed to their dating but they decided to live together and did it. The birth mother’s family continued to oppose to their living together and they returned to each of their home and eventually separated. The birth mother was pregnant and gave birth to her baby but she could not raise her baby as an unwed woman. The birth father could not raise the baby, either. So the baby was placed for adoption.

I am not so naive as to think her eyes will ever stumble upon these words. All I can do is grapple for the unreal, while still grasping the real.

With each day, each month, each year that passes void of the longed for contact, the more that reality encroaches upon the wild dreaming of my imagination.

This constant tension between what is reality and what is hope. What is fact and what is fantasy.

There are times during which I can almost imagine making contact with her. She feels so very close. She is within reach. I can feel the warmth of her breath lingering in the air. I can hear the rustling of her clothing, the shuffling of her feet. The power of intense anticipation seems almost enough to conjure the elements to make her crystallize before my eyes.

And then, there are the times during which contact with her cruelly disintegrates, only to evaporate as a mirage.

Six years ago, when I first initiated a search through Eastern, one of the social workers informed me that they had compiled a list of ten women who fit my birth mother's approximate age and name. The social worker stated that they were in the process of contacting these women by telegram.

It was as though I could feel the tips of my birth mother's fingers brush passed my own.

I tried to remain level-headed. Realistic.

But the hope of imagination cannot be tamed. It runs wildly at even the smallest possibility of realization. It thinks not of consequences or disappointments. It ignores any whispers of the impossible. It turns its ears only to that of the deep secret dreams and desires of the heart, and echoes them powerfully as though they have already come to be.

I waited with excruciating patience and longing. I could do nothing but believe that my birth mother was among those ten women. Certainly, the search would not arrive at this point only to bear fruitless hope.

Months passed and still I heard no report. No updates.

Finally, I inquired. The social worker stated that she was not certain of the outcome yet.

So, I waited.

Several months later, Eastern informed me that their attempts at contact had been without success.

I have written of this account previously. And here I am writing of it again.

I am redundant. Repetitive. An old, broken record--we know what comes of old broken records...

Yet, perhaps this is what it takes for someone like me.

At times, I feel as though I am not real. My life and all of this seems unreal. Was I really born in Korea? Did my birth mother truly exist? And hence, do I really exist? Am I here, indeed, living and breathing? Are these my words? Are these my emotions? Is this my voice?

Is that photo of a month-old infant me? I look at photos of my infancy as an orphan, and it seems as another lifetime to me. That baby girl is not me. She is someone else.

Maybe the repetition, the redundancy is a way to reinforce these unreal realities to me.

If I tell the story enough times, if I process the events enough times, perhaps this is a way to undo the sense of feeling lost, adrift, unanchored as I cast myself out into the endless oceans of irresolution and indefinite doubt.

One may ask, why cast yourself into such an ocean?

The shore holds no answers for me. It is only out in the wild, with its uncertainty and risk, that I will have the chance to find her. And if not her, then it is my hope that still yet something or someone unexpected awaits my discovery.

For all the hurt and pain that I express, there is just as much hope and inspiration. I would rather face my fears of disappointment and discomfort than to conform timidly and reluctantly to the false comforts of the familiar and ordinary.

I don't mind being a broken record, as long as what is broken finds meaning. I think that I have found that it is time to take that broken record and hurl it out into the open, to shatter into a million pieces that it will make its way throughout the world and find that breaking is the only way to truly becoming whole.