Memoir: Poem: Memories repeat like songs

Photograph by Judy Kim, a florist gave me this rose, just because 🙂 when I was walking to bart from work in San Francisco.

Memories repeat like songs./I left my parent’s home in Maryland/our domestically unsafe haven/filled like helium/with emotional explosions/anchored by our collective depression/shell shocked with adrenaline/we searched for his gun to hide it/so he couldn’t find it first/while the irony of beauty surrounded us/majestic trees night singing with shimmering leaves/the breeze shines the edge of moody clouds/while below my parents double convulse/with sorrow and anger like a heart attack curse/shouting wartime abuse and the struggle of hunger./I’m caught in their triangle/but how could I expect them/to wear normal upper middle class lives/after the absolute trauma of imperialism.

We were obsessed with Living the American Dream/we had the fancy ranch house/with candelabra chandeliers and skylighted ceilings/acres of land that stretched into fairytale forests/a perfect haven in nature/with tumbling baby foxes tussling in circles/a whole family of lovely doe and bucks with new antlers/eating mother’s hard won corn/does she chase them away/maybe but only through the kitchen window/opened like mini French doors/like Snow White’s cottage/opening wide to greet whirling butterflies and brightly feathered birds./Country roads feel lonelier in winter/landscaped with Christmas tree farms/and horse riding ranches/summer ripens handpicked wild raspberries and black berries stain my childhood fingers/firefly sunsets and balmy starlit nights in the country/with the moon chasing so bright/that sometimes it could wake you.

To navigate the space of memory/to access the various versions of myself/waking dreams we call memory/every time I face them I become their lost child again/their runaway girl/the only one that left/out of three well-behaved children/the quiet one who disappeared/into the crazy, paisley, fantasy of San Francisco/I left my heart there too/as long as I can remember that feeling/bruised hearts bursting with laughter/insane, terrifying, happiness and endless tears with my muse, Spencer./I think you can be happy with many different partners/but you only get one true love./He was mine and I was his/I think that’s what marriage is/natural, instant, union./He was bipolar and I was, whatever I am./I’m a sensitive./I’m a survivor./I’m an artist./I’m a nerd.

I want to write about Traveling:/to NYC with them to get my botched surgery/traveling to Ft Lauderdale to my sisters wedding/Ocean City one day vacation/4th of July at King’s Dominion/and the mystery of Loray caverns./What I knew as a child doesn’t change/unless I rearrange it in my mind/save what I want to/conveniently forget the rest/but the worst creeps in and I rewind time/haunt myself with futile guilt./Moving forward involves not repeating the mistake/guilt is pointless without action.

We were always in chaos/and I was in shock/bookish introversion was my protection./I was in utter shock/numbed by mental electrocution/all I could do was observe their horror/my function was as a witness to them/to their constant confusion/multiplied shouting, insults, slaps/mutilation of confidence/heavy calloused hands caused more hurt/kicks to the stomach/kicks when you were already down./My older siblings were referee punching bags as children./They suffered the blows that I wouldn’t/because I was terrified/a cowardly lion/the last baby with a heart condition/the prodigal spoiled princess.

Intoxicated creepy, gropey dopey ghoul/mon pere, my handsome father/sunglass wearing motorcyclist, asian Romeo./Thinking about them shouting Then/still hurts my stomach Now./The past, present and future coexist within./My mind is a time traveler renaming stories/They were always arguing never making up/always critical never friends/never supportive, always competing/killing each other with words/withholding love/withholding respect/their prearranged marriage disaster./They were the same age/born in the year of the mercurial horse/equally matched sparring partners/both attractive and oh so proud/clever in their own unique ways/both wartime children that never forgot hunger/both innocent civilians/enduring, hardworking/unstoppable, survivors.


  1. Judy you have expressed your pain and sorrow so beautifully. I am so sorry for your pain, and sorry. Sorry for both of us. You and I did survive and we are warriors. We can share with others how we survived and perhaps help others. Your great strength will encourage others as it does me. Love you my sweet sister. ❤️💕Joni

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    1. Thank you so much, Joni❤️, I think truth becomes a poison if we don’t let it out, it’s important to acknowledge in order to heal. I guess I write in order to understand and express what I’ve processed, it’s lucky that we have a positive outlet. I’m happy to connect with you here, in a sisterhood of support. Your writing is catalytically healing for survivors to feel understood and loved.🙏🌸

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      1. Thank you dear sister for your very kind response. I do feel like I have met a few beautiful woman whom I share a strong connection, you being one of these women which have blessed my life. Your poem really was so touching to me and I related so deeply with it as I am sure many other readers did as well. Love 💕 Joni

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      2. Thank you! I used to openly publish my poems about abuse but have made most of them password protected after some weird troll sent a dick profile pic to me. I thought trolls didn’t deserve to secretly read about my private life. I usually will publish them and make them protected after awhile. Sad that I feel like I have to do that because of a few jerks. Have a wonderful day, Joni🌸❤️🙂


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