A continuation of my “not-a-30/30” poetry series

“being second generation is such a tightrope between the “homeland” and here”

—my sister on the similarities between the adoptee and 2nd generation refugee experiences


There is power when language vibrates my throat ugly

An adoptee advocate tells the Korean government

She will address them in English by choice

As English was never a choice she was given

The margins of me are a tide that pulls everything out


My throat ugly when language vibrates with power

A Corean student asks me why he must learn English

My answers blossom like Japanese cherry trees on Corean soil

the 18 years of ESL classes

I never had to take

Vine with my vocal chords and wither


If you ask me why I came back here

I can tell you:

I am living somewhere between those two stanzas

Home as much a culling

as that which is reaped

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Not even gonna call this part of 30/30 cause that would be lying

Just saw Olympus Had Fallen I wanna go buy a gun and kill every fucking Asian

—tweet about the new movie Olympus Has Fallen which features a group of North Korean villains attempting to take over the White House





War rhetoric spills from his mouth

Like a piece of gristle he grew tired of chewing

Irony is when I wonder

If he paid his taxes last year

Government’s got ways to make some wishes come true

Somewhere in the Pacific men yell into wires and metal moves

Headlines: military “exercise”

Invisible bombs

fall like


I wonder if the finger over the button

tingles like a war vet’s missing limb

When did headlines stop horrifying?

What would it take for them to horrify again?

Words don’t communicate so well any more

The way repetition seems to amputate us

from the feeling a thousand families wake up to

over there

We, a country that’s always preferred the eraser

to anything that might strain our fidgeting eyes

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Poetry Update

Special thanks to Denise Jolly for encouraging me to write this. Check out her work at: http://www.denisejollyspoken.com/

The following two-part poem is a found poem derived from the texts of two newspaper articles-one from Tahoe, California and one from Korea-both places I am trying to navigate as home. I wanted a story that would be covered in both disparate places and would be reflective of my experiences with how I am being constructed and am constructing myself as a Korean American male. I choose the Virginia Tech Shooting.

Article links:




Tahoe:  Being Seen as a Precipice

where our cliffs lie

people closest

offer quiet violence as plan for exposed violence

so all strangers are red flags

a young man

becomes a house tipping over in time

learns crevices

behavior is raised like a stiff drink

at a social boiling point

playwriting an anger to solve our problems

with what they did

is familiar

and so damn old-fashioned

for us, seen as a precipice

of remarkable

and disorder

a part of us

they want to know

we: edge madness

gun quiet before the snap

a part of us

they never want to learn

the part of us human

writing desire into new history



Korea: Consider Leaving [again]

consider leaving if

home is all riot and fallout and

to learn

is to discover damage in the aftershocks

consider leaving if

time over there

translates to:

so anxious to be Korean


horrified to hear Korean

to go out, to move in Korean

consider leaving if

others worry about programs and classes

and you worry about studying

since as a man

you are not the child you hope to be

consider leaving if

yesterday in a nightmare

community was percussion

and the parts of you: all silence

like ethnic in the U.S. should be

consider leaving:

it is

our massacre

not shock or one act of tragedy

a safe fall

a home we emerge from each day

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Cooking in Corea

Been cooking a lot lately. Inspired by Jacques Pepin (thank you for the cookbook aunt and uncle!), Corean markets, adoptee farmers, and the love I have for all the friends/family that are open enough to try my creations.

fish mushrooms noodles octopus ribs shrimp

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I will not write about the heart


Instead consider:

The railroad tracks that were built through my adoptive town

By hands that looked like mine

But did not sleep like mine


I believe[d]:

That I will[would] not receive what I deserve[d]

Remember the textbooks that shared not our faces

Love might as well have been the cover


What a gift:

That while the train calls

I may write

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Poem update (finally)

Friends and family,

I wanted to post this to share with you about a process I have started that is changing and challenging me profoundly. Because I love you and am learning to know that I am loved. Because I want to be a resource to fellow adoptees with the hope that I can grow and help others grow. Because it gets me off my proverbial ass and forces me to engage those uncomfortable corners of myself. I just ask please respect my distance and silence on this topic as sometimes it is difficult to talk about.

Here’s a blog update in the form of a poem…finally!



Reasons I can’t just email Holt and ask to start my birth search already


the sink is full of dishes

I have been in this bed for 4 days and not typed a word

I never finish things

some poems are not finished until you grow

I want control and don’t think I will have it

we are born into an absence of control

and learn how to live it

a baby box in Seoul is heated to an optimal temperature and has instructions written on the door

I can’t look at barcodes at the grocery store the same way anymore

they asked me to pay $50 dollars for my papers

they asked my parents to pay money for my paperwork

this money went somewhere


going somewhere

a president’s father oversaw the greatest period of economic growth in Korea’s history

and the greatest number of adoptions

his daughter tells us to speak of history as if it were a distant thing


my relationships end because I’m emotionally distant

I remember learning the word love in Korean, a book on a shelf too high to reach


Korea and America: lawmakers clamor for my body

I will make my own country

it will not exist on land, I know what countries did to be founded on land

it will exist in the search, those searching, those searched for


what if we were all born searching

and knew it


what if I threw my everything at her

and received only “welcome home”

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Cheese and gnocchi making


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