Friday, 27 November 2009


Throughout each day, I pass through countless curtains of time

Behind each, a new theater on whose stage I see moments from my past acted out before me

Each in vivid detail

As I watch, I re-live what I thought had long been lost

This mysterious camera I lug around absently on my shoulders

Constantly throws images up to the forefront of my mind

Memories I could not recall if I had tried

I’m beginning to realize that every moment matters

Because once created, it becomes permanent

I carry with me through each new decade every scrap of the past

The load ever growing

Now in my middle age, burgeoning

As if I were the mother of the angels

Drawing all the countless stars under my wings

Friday, 14 August 2009

Subtle Activity Just Beneath the Surface

For all silently hidden housewives, book learners, farmers
Interconnecting every age and stratum
Adolescents and elderly, pilgrims and stationary, elite and destitute
For all loiterers in life's foyer
Who invest in days unseen
Hands cupped over ears
Poised for the moment when the drought of silence is broken, as predicted by the trembling and strange lexicon of the prophets
For vibrations not yet rustling eardrums
Though haunted by mirages and their subsequent disillusion
Band together--shall we?--in the fellowship of behind-the-scenes inhabiters
Of those who, expending all muscle fibers, brain cells, passions

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Chronophage

The chronophage swallows time, terrifying his appetite

My past, like Jonah, is consumed

But not dead

It sits in the belly of another being

Alive in a parallel place

And I am filled with dread

At the way life slips overboard, past my grip

Into a void which I can only visit through my imagination

So in the abstract I become a traveler

Crisscrossing through the vast seas of hours

Forwards, backwards, then circling the present

A chaos of invisible strings mapping my movement

Until I am all tangled up

A hostage of the interstices

In my stillness, I hear a patterned rhythm

Coming from some form of the living

Pounding on what sounds like a huge, hollow drum

Sending messages in S.O.S.

About the collapsibility

Of our purportedly fixed three dimensions

Friday, 1 May 2009

Genealogy of the Artist

A disclaimer to my readers: Because I am computer illiterate, I don't know how to fix this--in a Word document, this makes the pattern of a tree. In these too skinny margins, though, some of my branches are bent. Oh well!


In our family tree

We find a multitude

Of characters, a motley crew

I search to see if I share resemblance

To any of whom I count among the giants

If I can spot underneath the microscope’s lens

That the chains of my DNA strands bind me to them

I clearly identify on my face the nose of that surrealist

Bretón, who sniffed something more behind the curtain

Of realism’s staged reality, its mundane props, and its structure

I recognize, from an angle, the sagging shoulders and, perhaps, big head

Of those romantic prophets and seers, who carried the burden of difference

Am I of the same breed of people, the many revolutionaries in these branches

Who believe the artist responsible for both speaking truth and acting upon it

I sing to hear if my voice resembles Dylan’s, if I can speak for my generation

Under my eyes, I wear the dark circles that brand insomniacs, like Okri

Who resists the somnolent hours, standing guard, and listening

As did Rilke’s, my ears hear the befriending of lofty Night

For the most part, though, I see myself in the masses

Of unidentified artists, who namelessly

Continue to create

Day after day









Yet Not


I am all

Of these

As I look

In the mirror

This is what it means

I see, to be born an artist

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Miyazaki and Me

A note: This is a new poem which I plan to submit to a women's poetry competition next month. I'd really appreciate any constructive criticism- likes, dislikes, areas needing clarity, etc. Thanks!

- Kim

As the wheels on the bus lurched noisily forward

The stranger sharing my seat and I exchanged awkward greetings

Our hellos contrasting sharply in their dissimilarity

I expected nothing but a mundane journey home

But as the bus gathered momentum, so did our conversation

Blowing flimsy, external difference out the window like litter

Left fluttering in the void between here and nowhere

Those around us may have wondered

What in the world we had in common

She, the granddaughter of Japanese rice farmers

I, of Texas cattle ranchers

Yet quickly we arrived at the plenitude that would bind us

Both of us this year had slipped suddenly into decade number three

Each distinctly unsettled at the way twenty-nine so suddenly becomes thirty

At the chasm that can separate one day from the next

At the way life metamorphoses over night

While we are yet not ready

She, upset to be still unwed

I, still to be childless

Lost were both of us in the labyrinth of family and career

Alone each seems such a perfect objective

Yet combined, irreconcilable

She tells me that she represents a multitude of her countrywomen

Back home in Japan, new families have been added to endangered species list

Inducing stern statesmen into sorcery

The government is waving bills in front of bellies as if feminine bodies will round by magic


I shared with her my search for a nesting spot on the rockface of career climbing

Where I can hatch my unborn children

My imagination already crowded with their presence

Statistics give me five more years before my body decides for me

Each birthday I mourn the clock’s tick-tock-ticking

Clearly, we had turned the corner of casual politeness

Things were now too personal not to press forward

So with an hour to go

We scooted closer

And began engaging in that transcendent language of storytelling

Holding the present up to the past like glass prisms in the sun beaming through bus windows

Refracting on the seats our dancing rainbows

We crisscrossed through dizzying years and distant generations

Until arriving, finally, at the crossroads of the present

Where it is our turn to make choices about our families’ futures

The continuation of traditions, memories, facial features

But before we arrived at any solutions, the bus slowed at my stop

Where we actually hugged goodbye

Stuffing pockets with scraps of paper

Marked with bumpily written contact details

I felt the loss of parting with someone kindred
This was such an unexpected sisterhood

Discovered in a single afternoon with the woman who was

Only an hour-and-a-half ago

Merely the stranger sharing my seat

Miyazaki, with beautiful round face and almond eyes

And me, with skin milk-white and eyes blue, just like my mother’s

Saturday, 21 March 2009

When Silence becomes Torture

He'd been wounded by words

Not their utterance

But their absence

If the Word becoming flesh is salvation

Than their delayed embodiment is hell

And the father who refuses to incarnate love in language

Some kind of tormentor

Of the boy who wanted nothing more than his approval

Memories of silence torture adult-child

Long after father has grayed, lost ability to walk, stopped breathing

Death eternally forestalls those words from coming

Compounding pain upon pain

Corrie ten Boom’s words ring like that bell which must stop ringing

He listens to the deafening gong

Identifies his own paternal shortcomings

Discerns mercy that’s divinely been offered him

And in the quiet left by his father’s failed lips

He moves his own

In what at first feels more difficult than Atlas’s burden

Filling with the power of his own voice the silence

I forgive

Ben Okri on the Role of Writers in Creating Beauty and Documenting Truth

"Writers have one great responsibility: to write beautifully, which is to say to write well. Within this responsibility is that of being truthful. To charm, to amuse, to enchant, to take us out of ourselves, these are all part of beauty. But there is a parallel responsibility: and that is to sing a little about the realitites of the age, to leave some sort of magical record of what they saw and dreamt while they were alive (because they can't really do it the same way when dead), and to bear witness in their unique manner to the beauties, the ordinariness, and the horrors of their times."
From A Way of Being Free, pg. 60

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Daisies like Diamonds

The other day I was skyping with my Dad. (It’s funny how we make verbs out of new technology, isn’t it. The infinitive “to Skype” becomes “skyping.” We are in another linguistic age. Each of us an etymologist!) Because my dad is an especially amazing dad, he was helping me through my chronic homesickness. Listing a host of reasons I had to look on the bright side, he mentioned that I was blessed to be over here, getting to miss the recession that seems to be becoming ever less of an invisible enemy economists and newscasters whisper of and ever more the solid reality of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and psychological distress. I am willing to bet that most of you are either being directly affected by the economy or know people who are. It’s not that my dad meant that the recession isn’t in Britain, but that my life here is fairly unaltered by it. I’m a student on a scholarship. My husband is a supervisor at Starbucks. For now, we’re relatively unscathed, as are most of the people in our circle of life—students. So in a selfish way, yes, I am very happy to be facing the loss of neither house nor paycheck.

For those of you who don’t know my dad, he is “Joe, the plumber.” Well, he’s not literally Joe, but he embodies what Joe represents, a small business owner. In point of fact, my dad is a homebuilder, and being such his industry is receiving some of the brunt of this recession. Because of who my dad is, or what he does for a living, it is actually impossible for me to feel untouched by this financial crisis. In some ways, I think I worry more about it, because I’m distanced from him. What I haven’t mentioned is that my brother and my sister work in my dad’s little office. When my dad considers the grim possibilities of the future without some kind of breakthrough, he has to also face the fact that he would have to un-employ two of his children. There’s some added pressure!

As you can imagine, I have been praying for my dad, for my siblings’ families, and for several others I know who are really feeling this thing a lot lately. One particular passage has been crowding my spiritual horizon today, Romans 8:28-39. I won’t quote it at length here, but I will cite a portion:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? […] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35b-39)

I have wrestled with this passage for a long time. To my very privileged American sensibility, I was struck when I first saw in this text that “hardship,” “hunger," and “persecution” were not in opposition to God’s love for us. In other words, if we undergo this kind of suffering, it does not mean that God does not love us. Suffering and God's love are not antithetical! (A Christian in a developing or closed country might teach me a thing or two on this.) In fact, Paul says that in the midst of "all these things”—the “trouble,” “hardship,” “persecution,” and the rest—which beat us down in so many ways, that we are still “more than conquerors through him who loved us.” During the tribulations, we have already triumphed. How does this make sense? Because Paul is distinguishing between two different arenas, the physical and spiritual. When circumstances are wrecking our material world, our battle in the spirtual realm has already been won, that is our redemption to God through Christ. And the spiritual reality of our salvation dwarfs in value the hardships of earth.

The division between earthly and eternal is something C.S. Lewis pondered much, as is evident from his masterful The Great Divorce. In this short work, a man goes to heaven, and here the things he sees are so real that they take on a weight and density that actually injure his more feeble, less real human body. The grass hurts his feet. Pulling a flower damages his hand:

[…] I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn’t twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like a diamond. (19)

What a perfect comparison to the spiritual reality. Diamonds are one of the hardest substances. They are also one of the most beautiful and rare. And this spiritual reality is more enduring, abiding--more real--than the earthly. It is eternal, while the history of earth will pass.

Today I pray that, like Lewis’s protagonist, we would all get a better picture of the profound reality of the eternal, specifically, of our eternal heritage in Christ, which thieves cannot steal and moths cannot destroy. I believe if the Holy Spirit can help us get a grasp of the density of the eternal reality that the stress of this financial difficulty will wound us less.

Now, because I am distanced from the direct effects of the economic crisis, I want to thread with caution these words with which I aim to encourage. This is one of the proverbial moments of “easier said than done.” Nevertheless, I pray that you and I will, like Paul, be “convinced” that economic “famine” does not change God's love for us, a love shown best in this:

Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:34b-35a)

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Birds and I

On the limbs the birds perched, as still as the tree itself
Their voices were quiet, unused for the moment
In their sleek, feathered bodies

This was the cause of my weeping
For the sense of solidarity I felt instantly with those creatures in that moment
For the gift of analogy they gave to me
The ability to put into form what has been formless in me
The plaguing feeling that I, too, am perched on a limb
Which dangles over the earth

Of course, singing is occasional
And it is silence that connects moments of joy, lament, and other times worth naming
Worth singing about

The anonymity of silence wounds my illusions of self-grandeur
Twisted together with the dreams of my youth

It purifies me
Nurtures humility
Feeds dependence
And for these reasons
I hear my vocal chords vibrating together again
Generating song
And to top it all
My new friends have joined in

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Back to the Grind

The Mound was merciless.

As Chad and I cycled up that long, inevitable hill towards our respective places of work on the first day back to our daily routine in Edinburgh, the Mound punished our legs, our lungs, our brows. It seemed spiteful because we had neglected its rigorousness for three weeks for the bliss of American Christmas, for that most magical of places, home.

The price was worth it.

As I suffered, recollected visions of sugarplums and wassail, family and pajamas overpowered the shock pulsing through my lazy legs. I stood up on my pedals and kept going. Those visions pushed me further than the mound—they motivated me through the first few days of being back in my foreign, temporary home, where mixed feelings ever envelop me. Where I am tossed between thoughts such as “four days ago I was at mom and dad’s” and “God, I want to do more here than count down the time left.”

I want to bloom where I’ve been planted.

We’re settling back in. And I am reminded how routine is both comforting and dangerous. It is a potentially powerful component of productivity. It is also the lullaby of mediocrity.

But we cannot afford normal.

In "Art as Technique" Viktor Shklovsky described how when things and people become too familiar to us, they tend to recede into invisibility. It is as if, he described, they are demoted in our minds to mathematic variables, a negative condition he termed the “algebrization” of things.

For him, art was the answer.

I agree that art can be a powerful tool in “defamiliarizing” the overly familiar. However, I also believe there is a larger issue looming: Why should I become aware? Aware of what? Nevertheless, this point about habit making even very important things and people become invisible to us is what I am getting at.

Prayer, rub my eyes—get the sleep out.

Last night my friend Rebecca told me about the mother of her son’s best friend, a single mom of two young boys, both of whom have muscular dystrophy. The doctors say that neither will see past his twentieth birthday. Last summer the eldest became wheelchair bound. Nightly, the mother must wake up to turn him over in his bed. Since this story was passed on to me, throughout the morning it has acted like a melancholy, and sobering, refrain in my thoughts. It compelled me to plead with God, that this woman and her boys would come to know the hope of Christ and His eternal salvation. That they would know, too, his comfort here on earth: “Remember your promise, Lord. You are close to the broken-hearted.” I prayed for us, too, for Christ’s Church—

That, wide-eyed, we would spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.