Enough, or: Not

A Sijo

as an immigrant parent, 
limited by culture and language, 
wanting to help my child succeed, 
pained by my inadequacies, 
I find I must surmount
my insecurities daily


A Korean verse form related to haiku and tanka and comprised of three lines of 14-16 syllables each, for a total of 44-46 syllables. Each line contains a pause near the middle, similar to a caesura, though the break need not be metrical. The first half of the line contains six to nine syllables; the second half should contain no fewer than five. Originally intended as songs, sijo can treat romantic, metaphysical, or spiritual themes. Whatever the subject, the first line introduces an idea or story, the second supplies a โ€œturn,โ€ and the third provides closure. Modern sijo are sometimes printed in six lines.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

17 thoughts on “Enough, or: Not”

  1. I’m not sure the poem only describes the dynamic of immigrant parents. I have had the same thoughts as a parent! When they brought home “new” math and were learning foreign languages that were never dreamed in my high school! We had French or Spanish (and Latin). My sons took German and Japanese! I was completely at a loss!

  2. I think your child is lucky to have you as a father and to have the wonderful experiences that being an immigrant brings her. Beautiful poem.

      1. Haha That happens a lot here, especially in CA and AZ. It’s an interesting position for you especially as the kids get older and more fluent than you are in both language and culture. You’ll be learning from her.

  3. Always incisive read
    Adapt or die
    Integrate or Isolate
    First, second, third generations face different yet similar realities.

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