Poems by Sylvia Yoon Kim



That you are not the


Of your self


Amidst the stillness

The quiet alone


Colorful ribbons shed and fly

Twirling and whirling all around us


Down, down, down

Into the dark


Falling around us

Me and You

Staring, warring against the

Brilliant gold and black


You touch me

I fall


Mere mortal body

Collapses like the rest

Of those who are all




I am the girl with two names


One beneath the warmth of blankets

Hidden under soil

Trailing underneath

My footprints backwards


On the outline of my eyes

Floating in the scent of my dark hair

Sounding in church bells ringing


Where faces mirrored stare at me in herds

But they are not mine

In the reflections I cannot see

My face on theirs


My name

My name


Is losing pride in diversity

In all the colors I am grey

I am weightless

I am an unidentifiable decision


Spinning around and being pulled

Wanting to fit in the crevice of the whole

Generational we gap


Amidst the worlds and oceans

Of here and there and flying

Of names beginning, middle and end

Of a sight of two hearts molded into anew


My name

My name


I am nowhere

I am in the outskirts

The forgotten in between

Permanently fleeting


Only to find that

No one can make the sounds

The pattern of a lost and found

The texture of two thumbs different


I am the girl with two names


No one knows my names

No one except me




Dark tunnel of dirt and mud

I reach out my hand

To find you


Deeper and farther I dig

For a piece of you

Whisper of a touch


I shed myself

My clothes wither

My hair befalls in heaps


Naked and bare I dig

Only to find you

Your light or a shadow


The farther I go

My skin and muscle

Lessen into bone


Echoless of your remnants

I tried to reach you

Here I am at the bottom


There you are

With your feet standing

On top of my eyes


And I’ve found that

I am gone

Are you happy?




Do not call me your lovely daughter

When I was never yours

And you were never mine


Do you think I’ve forgotten?

The days when I’d see you arrive

And I the fool, who’d greet your slippery grin

With a hug


Do you think I’d never grow to understand?

The nights of your absence

And you bang bang banging on the front door


Do you think I could unsee it all?

The belt

The needle

Your daze


You were never there


Time heals all wounds

Is a lie

And forgiveness is the ultimate test

Of humanity


But not now

Not yet


Let me simmer in this

Chemical anger of hurt

Fizzle my heart some more

With your slippery smile


Who gave you the right

To touch me

Don’t ever touch me


You usurped your throne

With a theft

Of our lives



What fault is mine?


The state of our tree is rotten now

Rotten at the roots

You’ve poisoned us all


I still taste the smell of your cologne

Like backwash in my mind


I still feel your absence

When you try to make your presence

Known to me now now now-still?


I cannot forget

I could never forget


Until the suspicion breaks

And the body

Can take no more

No more


Oh! Forgiveness!

Oh! Forgiveness!


You’ve cracked my nerve

Like a leaf in the gutter


Wind and water

Wash me away

If only I could breathe

If only I could stay awake

To hear


You say you’re sorry




I wish I could say it without

The arrows you’ve injured my joints

To move

To breathe

To speak


Daddy issues

What a cliché

You’ve made out of me




Pursuits without passion

Is death



The everlasting release


Stopped short

Aborting what could be

Your legacy


Real world

Real life






Is now

Is one


This world

Was not made

For you to be



Fear it

Oh dear ones


What is real

Is failure


What is real

Is mediocrity


What is real

Is a nameless tombstone


Fear it

And anticipate

Your downfall

Unless you choose


To cover the jaws of

The lonely ones

The loved ones

Who will shatter your dreams

With what is real


Take a step

On the air of make believe


Where the wind is sweet

And the water is murky

But you are alive alive

Broken free and alive


You were not made to be





This world is filled with lots of pebbles

Clumps of dirt we treat like diamonds


Bite down hard on that dollar sign

As your teeth fall off and break


We smile toothless

Worthless smiles


White picket fences

Encircle our minds

2.5 kids and a dog

Named frivolous


We walk down lonely roads

And call this place our home


Captured we say we are free

In our comforts we are lost


Searching for meaning


Meaning less


Happiness is meaningless

No I will not settle for happiness


Give me joy!


Give me joy like the cataclysmic rejuvenation of rain

After 21 years of drought


Give me joy like the scars on a wrist and mind

Replaced with golden embroidery from the sun


Give me joy like a poor hungry child

Receiving a loaf of bread and fish


Give me joy like feeling whole

After wandering with gaping holes for life


Give me joy like feeling your wings

Enrapturing me saying baby you can still fly


Give me joy like seeing my pain transform

Into poetry


Give me joy in a place called paradise

When you will wipe away every tear from their eyes


And where we will finally feel



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