Contributors * more photos to appear soon

Contributors * more photos to appear soon
Christy Namee Eriksen, kim thompson, Jon Schill

Sunday, July 27, 2014

She says that these skeletons, were reanimated corpses, wrapped together in  bloody bandages, that these were living, breathing, bloodthirsty, sharp clawed big teeth, make you want to run for your life, monsters
With a whisper she claimed that I was the only one that didn't scare her
We walked across the bridge, looking down at the highway, pointed out to where the sun hugs the earth and promised that with nothing more then the clothes on our backs, the change in our pockets, our hands locked together, and a full tank of gas, we'd write our own book
I still sit on that same lawn, where we use to grab ice cream, she always got strawberry, because it always reminded her of how my cheeks would light up when she was close to me
I open and close my closet door while I'm inside hoping that I'll somehow open up to be in her room
I don't look at the highway anymore, these concrete veins of mine can no longer be filled with this pink berry bloodstream
Our love was a nightmare, but it was the only thing I thought about while dreaming

We hold hands and I can’t help but to say
“Is it weird that this feels normal?”
Through summers
we laugh and smile, between my broken R’s and her refurbished metallic shining grin we thought we were invincible
Her locket she called her heart was almost as tight as our fingers were
entwined with each others as if we were making a beautiful concerto with sign language
our rhythm were our hearts beating faster than the sun when I looked at her slightly slanted sweetened eyes
 the notes were the syllables we tapped out of our fingers whenever we gave little kid back rubs to each other,
you were the conductor and I was your score and together we made everyone smile in awe at how cute of a couple we could be at such a young age, thinking we knew what these butterflies in our stomachs were
Sunny days were replaced with cold nights
we grew
I didn’t want to but I knew I had to
You came back one day with amazing news
I just wish I was a part of it
It was going to be difficult, scary even, and we both knew it
I just never confronted it
I blinked and life changed instantly
One call gave so much meaning, but this was like fingers snapping
Locks rusting
music burning
teeth breaking
a genocide of monarchs
I sit in a pew
there's no casket, just an empty space of room
I wish you were here
our hands hugging
“This isn't weird.”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Here are two poems about a relationship falling apart

As a pair, I call them "Shut Up, Idiot; No One Cares About Your Shitty Break-up Poems." 

1. (Embrace)

She likes it best when he 
holds her tight, sleeping, 
holds her to him like
she’s a handle in a storm, a
tree rooted in soil and history. 
She likes it best when he 
breathes her in, inhales
her scent and murmurs
prayers spoken in tongues of slumber,
holds her close again. 
Rain plays rhythmic on the window pane only sometimes,
she wonders what he dreams about. 
He hides it best when he
sleeps, mind at rest, words 
form and he smiles, thinking: 
“I’ll squeeze the life from you.
I’ll squeeze the life from you and eat it.” 

2. (Embraced)

She likes to kiss him right away,

right when he picks her up
as an I love you greeting
but also, moreso, when he picks her up he’s sure to be sober.
Ever since that scare two summers ago,
he’s sure to be sober when he picks her up
and she misses, now, the taste of him
not tainted by liquor. 
Holds him close, tries to squeeze what she fell in love with to the surface,
cling to whatever is left,
she kisses him again
“remember this feeling now. you have to.” 
He kisses back this time
out of boredom or manners. 

Silence plays third wheel at dinner now,
but knows to leave when the party really gets started, 
when empty words begin to flow and every statement is a toast
to youthful idealism deferred but not deflated yet
to the circular “remember whens” that relate back to relate back to
this same thing here, tonight,
to the places they thought they would be tonight but aren’t
to how, deep down, no one is really happy
to let’s trade one more night together for fleeting moments of we almost could
to staving off silence for a few more hours until morning.

They don’t hold each other close anymore, in sleep.
She likes to think this is a sign of contentment.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Travel Journal (draft)

I don’t like traveling.
Foreign domestic eyes twitch when it occurs
again that I’m always going to look like a tourist,
that maybe I should just embrace it and wear a fanny-pack
everywhere, pause to photograph the
odd numbering on busses I ride every day.
At my destination,
realize I’ve brought along more than I meant to pack,
things I didn’t even know I owned.
Beneath a pair of shower shoes is a pervasive sense of longing,
my plastic vitamin bottle holds staccato bursts of birthing pains,
folded into my sweater is a tongue that will not fold
to pronounce the name no longer on my luggage tag,
and by my toothbrush is a growing sense of doubt that that was even my name to begin with.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Too many locks for one door

They said my hands were fire and I didn’t know what they meant, that is until I made your heart my home and you got burned. Now you have a constant numb washing over you and a house of ashes for rent. They said my eyes were torture because they screamed for help and drew in lost souls, and kept prisoners shivering and shaking and trembling in fear, and because they didn’t know my chest had become desolate with no heart to hold. She said my lips burned kisses into welts meant to be left on the necks of women, but her hands were always wrapped around the necks of wine and whiskey bottles and even a few men, so I payed her no attention. He, her brother, said my lips were nothing more than tools to seduce women into lovers, claiming I never loved her, but he knew not me nor her so how could he claim to really love her? At her funeral I sang a song and they said my voice burned like her whiskey down the backs of their throats, and they couldn’t hold back the tears after hearing bittersweet notes sang about a woman who fell victim to a man who created fires starting with his pen hitting his paper as he wrote. I won’t hold it against them though, they didn’t know. I put on my necklace and my shades, and I almost never smile anymore because at least now I know.

$3,780 Is Priceless

"But that is exactly why the Chin case continues to haunt Asian Americans. It is archetypal. I am less anxious about the threat from the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads than I am the possibility that an ordinary guy across the bar, with economic unease and too much booze, turn outs to be savage enough for violence." "The Case Against Vincent Chin," Frank H. Wu

Dear Vince,
I whisper, “rest in peace” to you every year but I know you’re not;
I know you’re here, with me—a whisper’s length away;
I can feel you in my bones, resonating, tarnishing golden skin,
we both decay: you decompose while I fall apart every time I hear your story.
Manhood defined only my slaughter, bought off on bad credit—
Ron Ebens says he lives paycheck to paycheck now, off of social security I pay into from fitting in.
Begs the question why I pay for his life, why you paid with yours,
why we all pay for the murderer who thought you were the Japanese threat to livelihood,
thought you were looking at him funny,
thought you were returning his abuse just a little too much,
thought you didn’t bleed red or fear God like he did,
thought you were anything but
just Vince.
I bought a baseball bat today
to keep in my car so the next time I get called “chink” in traffic,
blamed for Pearl Harbor by some ironic hipster,
or just side-eyed from different eyes that “think I am,”
we can bypass the teaching moment;
sputter hurt against hurt
against out of work auto workers shape-shifted to
thick framed glasses with bachelor’s degrees and too much time,
shape-shifted to color blindness negating history
shape-shifted to badge excuses and stolen ground stood
shape-shifted to maybe just this once, I can hit back for us and win,
maybe just this once, I’m not all of us
maybe just this once, we’ll sleep tonight.
They’ll hose my guts out of the gutter, call it “manslaughter,”
we’ll call it a lullaby, Vince,
you and me,
we’ll call it a lullaby.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

[title redacted]

Once a year, No Last Name Given thinks about setting an extra place at her small table;
even in the echoing closeness of her studio off Park, the extra place setting she never follows through on,
never followed through on, 
rings alternate histories and any future away from that studio off Park. 
Sirens in the night don’t wake her anymore like memories of two cries wake her,
hands shaking from poor decisions from circumstance and not enough heat this winter aren’t what keeps her from writing him a letter.
A tasteless microwave meal, eaten alone to the hum of pipes and muffled conversation;
really this day is no different than yesterday. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Really Rough Draft #573

Poem for M. 

And it’s not like we ever met, even in passing,
maybe you’d have annoyed the shit out of me
maybe you were rude to servers,
maybe you only saw the world revolving only around you,
didn’t even view yourself as Asian, really,
but, you, 
you were my sister, 
with stories intertwined that spoke to one another, 
begun with goodbyes, ended alone
(at least for you), alone and searching. 
Laying there, bleeding, I hope you felt no regret, 
felt any peace in passing;
that we were all sent here for something better and got it--
not bleeding out, alone, in a car.
No, we were sent here to--
it’s not like we ever met but
just in passing, I’d have stopped to listen to your last words,
made up a prayer or a song
kept tempo by your heartbeat but this one wouldn’t end. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Puppy Love

NaPoWriMo Draft, Lightly Revised:
"Puppy Love"

It’s in the news again, always a few articles down,
Another kid, another adopted kid neglected to death—
This time, chained like a dog, starved for months.
If this kid had been bullied by other kids, chosen to take his own life,
mouths would foam for quantifiable laws to protect the innocent
and if this kid had gotten shot at school, there would be uproar over gun control,
more frenzied coverage of our collective failings weighed against collective blame
but this kid’s bullies were his protectors and
the only arms dealer today is the one that dealt me, dealt my brother:
divergent testaments to how good things can be, sometimes.
Across an ocean, someone feels a familiar sense of loss but can’t say why.
A small golden hand is just visible in the half-zipped black bag.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Town Called Whisper / Poem for T.

There’s a town called Whisper,
always a whisper’s length away;
exists in that warm energy, those fleeting breaths
before our world gushes back,
always leaves you in wisps, purged and dark. 
Still, alone now, Whisper calls:
There’s room for you just down, 
just down the river some. 
[redacted], please don’t go. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Verdict

Finally accept your life is worth not quite nothing but markedly less.
The soul as a transcendent entity helps you sleep again. 
But you are someone’s child;
your child’s life is worth markedly less and
Sleep is the least of your worries. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Abject Authentic Atheist
Assimilated Adapted

Anulled Abscene
Abnormal Antithesis

Abandoned Alone
Amazing Artist

Autistic Abrasive Arrogant
Abominable Adhesive

Asskisser Addicted
Abusive Adult

Abitch Abastard Abductee
Always Appropriately Angry


Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Am a Rented Room

NaPoWriMo 25/30: "I Am a Rented Room" (second draft/near immediate revision)

Carefully cleaned, walls painted over
between residents.
Every forlorn look covered in fresh, white paint, 
every exclamation aired out through opened windows.
The steadfast dresser remains
but its drawers are lined with new paper;
I don’t live here anymore. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Warriors Part 1

NaPoWriMo 4/17 "Warriors Part 1"

We believed we were warriors
until the day we fought the Ocean.
At first, we thought we beat it but 
brief retreat is only its nature;
It surged back, nearly drowned us.
Soggy, exhausted,
salt stinging our eyes, 
we wept salt water
into salt water
amid ruined battlements made of sand.

Friday, April 12, 2013


My legs and their legs were
mazes to a hard bass
on the dance floor.

Chris dared three of us to kiss him at once
and our tongues
were so empty
they learned anyone’s language.

I watched John eat a hot dog
and it was disgusting.
Mustard on his chin.
Words and relish falling out of his mouth.
Later he took my shirt off
so hungry
and I stood there like I had things
to offer.

Ryan told me he didn’t like me
but would sleep with me
and I did that for years.

Some nights I held him.

They are whistling,
they are talking about us,
the most beautiful women in the world.

I have never been ashamed to be Asian
except for every time
I wore my skin
like a drink

every time I
let them throw me back
and call me smooth,

I could have been anyone’s granddaughter
I could swing on a bell on a mountain of prayers
I could shave my head and sprinkle pieces of my midnight
all over Korea like a trail, like a bad joke
I could bear the name of a prescription drug
and my ancestors would never feel the pain
I could swallow the pacific
mile by raging mile
and spit
in my mother’s kimchi because

that’s what happens
to your insides

when you see
what they see

when they look at you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Adoptee Statistic

Context: the suicide rate among Korean Adoptees is something staggering like 5 times above average. Here is one guess why:

The Adoptee Statistic (4/5/13, edited 4/11/13)

At night, when the stars come out, I like to pretend each one is an ancestor.
I don’t know if that has any relevance in my History, my heritage;
it has lots of significance in My history. 

They look down at me, speak in a language I can’t understand,
that I’m too lazy to understand;
below the stars already, I sink deeper.

I call my mom--as a troubled child always should
and complain about my job because I lack the vocabulary to say what really bothers me.
My real sadness doesn’t translate,
but manifests as anger, as hate
and she tells me to stop bitching. 
And she’s right
but our blood doesn’t speak the same language
and we’re talking in codes that can’t be broken
so I hang up,
wish I had a mother who needed no translation,
yearn for darkness to reveal more ancestors in the sky
so I can learn by immersion. 

Friday, April 5, 2013


My mother was a song
in an empty hall.

When I met her
she ended twenty one years of silence
and filled me with her notes

Even with open ears
I barely heard
every e-flat apology
every d-scale dream
every Korean crescendo 
about our lifetime 
of broken chorus

and now I’m haunted
by the screech of strings
that no one listens to.

Some days
I still see her face
in instruments
that no one plays

and I recognize the look 
on a piano 
when someone 
bumps the keys

and all the sounds 
reach out at once

like the music is 
trapped inside it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dear Oma (Attempt #3)

I finished I Wish For You A Beautiful Life this week, coinciding with a goal to compile a chapbook of adoption-themed poems and find my mother in the next year or two. After I return to the homeland, there will likely be a follow up to this that has a radically different tone. 

Dear Oma (Attempt #3)

Dear Oma, 
my Oma,
I read your letter--or what I think, hope was your letter. 
I forgive you.
Please forgive me. 
Our nine months together impacted, scarred us
physically and in ways we’re still learning. 
Forgive me that I only know you as Oma.
Some day, without translation, I’ll tell you
you didn’t need to worry; I turned out okay,
it all worked out okay, 
I think of you a lot and am
I haven’t wanted for mothers, for love.
Lately, I haven’t wanted for God--but that’s another story. 
Oma, forgive me;
Like a ship into the ocean, you wished safe passage and Faith for me,
I only delivered one of these. 
But maybe we can call it even. 
Maybe we can accept fault in what we build up most,
bring the unattainable that much closer.
Language will matter less, 
culture will matter less, 
you and I will matter less, Oma. 

With love, always, 

Your Son. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

open letter (or something) to korea...

dear korea, (or ... anyone else who may or may not be listening/reading... lurking)

as you may or may not be aware... (most likely you are if youve ever paid attention/been able to decipher me at 4am on some random night where ive had too much soju and am stumbling about your streets mumbling things against you that begin with the oh so poetic phrase of "fuckin-fuckyoufuckinkorea-andyourfuckin...") i have very complex... unresolved feeling about and towards you.

seeing as i have now been living here more than 3 point 5 years (consecutively) and have spent about... 4 plus years (here) what with that grant and all...  the one thing i have been able to "ascertain" thus far is that... i evidently had a lot more expectations about and for you than i first realized "once upon a time ago" back when i first "reunited" with you in 2007... back then i recall only wondering if i was going to have some kind of "amy tan/joy luck club - 'As soon as my feet touched China*, I became Chinese*.'" experience. (* insert korea and korean for china and chinese)

 the reality (for me) is that the moment my feet touched the pavement outside of incheon airport on the night of december 15th of 2007 - not only did i not find myself "turning korean"... it hit me... as my friend and i stood by a rubbish bin to smoke... that... the truth was... i had (been) "turned" "western" so long ago that like a westerner i really didn't give a fuck that korean ahjushis were staring at us as we smoked ... and yet... something else hit me...

that i ... didn't need to "turn korean" because...



you never really left my blood now did you?

... so

here we are ... 6 ... SIX years later.

my ability to communicate with you only exists if we are discussing types of meat or seafood or booze... along with a few other random things that probably aren't too useful (though rather impressive party trick phrases when wanting to amuse korean-korean friends)

my ability to communicate with her as in HER... well... we all have different views/opinions on how public we want to be about HER... and for now... all i really want to say in this form of an open letter is that... thanks to you... thanks to a lot of other things... HER and i... really dont speak much anymore... (how many times can you repeat the same conversation over the course of almost 4 years?)

anyhow... back to YOU - korea.

i have such complex unresolved feelings about you.

one of these days... i will have to leave you.


... i have... a lot of feelings about that.

(feelings that i am not yet ready to fully express... give me a few more hours... days... weeks... months... years... lifetimes)

... but here... here is the thing i DO want to say to you in this open letter:

you cost me... us? A LOT.

not just HERE. not just LANGUAGE. not just IDENTITY. not just CULTURE. not just BLOODLINES.

you cost me... over there as well.

to the point that i am numb.

to the point that i am pretty certain that i am "supposed" to feel quite strongly about how things are (are not) with (that majority but not all of) my... "adoptive family" but... no longer do... and have not for quite a long time.

and the only real sadness i feel about that...

is that

i dont
for that
loss (of connection).

and that started long before reuniting with you...

but i know... that reuniting with you...

has made the one day possibility of "repairing that bridge"...


as the white people (who say this type of thing and who truly ALL HAVE) a fetish for asian things (people)... like to say "i feel quite zen about it all" (*imsosickof the idea/phrase "exceptional white person") *note: though i dont really need to say it... i will: i do not speak for others i only speak for me.

but the truth is...

ive got this sneaking suspicion that im not actually meant to "feel zen" about "it all..."

and korea,

you see i have this sneaking suspicion that ... when it comes to adoptees... or ... at least "to me, as an adoptee" that you really like to play the subversive game of "home wrecker"...

like there's this unspoken price that in the "quest" to find (my) identity the price is "all."


and for that... amongst so many other reasons that my brain and heart are just too tired to get into right now...

i have such complex and unresolved feelings about you.


i DO love you for so many reasons -- if you don't believe me ive got hundreds of pages of poems that i can send you to prove this...


there is nothing about you that has proven to be... clean or tidy or... possible of resolving.

here is the only reality that i seem to understand these days (years):

one day, i will need to leave you... for my own sanity and future.

but leaving you... it will not be "easy"... nor will i be leaving you with a (white) english teacher's fat pension check or able to exclaim via facebook "YES! paid off another loan today!"

... (not that i ever came to you for financial remuneration) ... (but yes i did come to you hoping for another kind of remuneration... that ... it seems i shall not be leaving here with either)

... leaving you (when that day comes)... will not be clean... and i know i shall not go to wherever it is next feeling like "well, glad to have tidied up that mess in my life."

... here is what i suspect... here is why i feel so complex about you...

when i leave... and even before leaving you...

the realization... the reality...

is that...

i will never resolve anything about you... i will never find that point of perfect grace or peace in terms of having found my resolution with you...

i will never feel like "i got everything i hoped for" (in spite of what it may seem like "i got")

because the price of you... has been and is... too high... and leaving you... that price is and will be too high...

but... i will and have been paying it... and i always will...

because somewhere... in the midst of realizing how i will NEVER feel resolved about you...

that therein is where i find my own form of...


with oh so complex feelings that i know shall never be resolved,

kim thompson
seoul, s. korea
8 jan 2013

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


(i) am nestled in something
i know not what
(i) am seething in something
i know not what
(i) am brewing in something
i know not what

only that it is

that one day
- but not today
- and probably not tomorrow
- and probably not the day after
that i will
be able
to name/define/express

love does not make me
love makes me

- but even love -
cannot name this
"something" for me.

only time.
only time.

and as snow falls for the 6th december here
i only know
that this

it is


a lot.

kim thompson. seoul, s. korea. written on a wed. posted on a thursday 6 dec. 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Believe In Harry Holt Too (Two)

The revised version is actually hanging out in 2011. Below is the original draft. 

Somewhere across the ocean,
a woman with my eyes looks at her ruined body every morning
and remembers me,
wonders what might have been
now that it is 2011 and the world is a different place than 1986.
Maybe her heart rips in half again
as she goes to work in a factory somewhere.

Somewhere across the ocean,
a man with my jawline frowns at his monthly wage
(less than I make in a week)
and remembers me,
wonders if I have his jawline
or what the woman with my eyes is doing now
before swallowing his failure like drunken sick
and clocking into a factory somewhere.

Yesterday, I bought a teddy bear for my friend’s kid
because the tag said “made in Korea”
and somehow, that made me feel like it could be less store-bought--
some connection to whoever was sewing it together
in a factory across the ocean.
I doubt he’ll remember who gave it to him.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On Not Writing Enough Lately

On Not Writing Enough Lately

I drink too much. 
I’m losing weight, I don’t look well. 
A fleeting quip about going from jaundiced to Jon dust makes me
smile in the mirror and
I am alone with my recycling--with the bottles that stack up on shelves like books
Each with 750-1000ml of whispered prayers, swallowed regret,
every murmur in between
I hope will reach across an ocean, translate into a language I don’t speak.
There’s no wind today. 
If I exhale hard enough, I can send these gallons of messages across the waves
to a familiar foreign shore where the ghost of a childless woman wanders, waiting.
If I drink enough,
waste away enough,
I can fold her shadow into mine and
tell her I'm sorry for not writing sooner.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

certain things

* soundtrack for reading:

certain things delight...
the moon
in the middle of the day
flowers growing
in the shade.
green growing from within
and then there is
the smell of books
years forgotten
stacked to the first floor
from underneath the

in a place like this
the stars at night are few
thanks to modern urbanity
and humanity's fear of the dark
but still
if you look up
you can hear them
out beyond
the sound of green, orange, blue

in a place like this
where ahjushis spit
and ahjumas shove
silence can seem so impossible
but there is always space
to sit
and listen only
to the hum
of an aircon motor
and the sounds of
tires brushing against
black pot-holed streets.

in a place like this
where some days the smell of sewers hits
you can begin to believe there is nothing left
to take in
you smell the bread
baking just around the corner
that all the wafting of fermented cabbage in the world
cannot conquer.

in a place like this
where white pursues yellow
and yellow does everything to
make its skin look more white
than even they
you can forget
that there is something left to
when your phone rings
and you just
you just cant have the same conversation youve been having
for more than 3 years
a conversation you once said youd give your entire life up for
just to have one time
and now you have
given it all up
and cant have that conversation anymore...
you can forget
why it is you ever chose to return
until you walk outside one night
or day
and see small patches of green still growing
a garden of 호박 growing from a 무당 집
and you remember
that no
good thing
re-plants itself
when your phone is finally silent
and you dont have to watch white
pursue yellow
and you just let the smell of
and watch the harmony
of moon in the day
and flowers in the shade

you remember
all these certain things
why it is
you stayed.

 - kim thompson. seoul. s. korea. some weeks ago in early august 2012