“Three Sijo” by Jamey Temple

Jamey Temple



I steal pickles when clearing dishes; Omma doesn’t see
If only I could tell her that I’ve found a man who’d stay
Then my worries wouldn’t feed this baby growing in me.



The Orphanage Van Driver

I drop them off at hotels, flowering like May blossoms
But when I see them again, a baby strapped to the mother’s chest,
They all look like fall, stripped raw; still the mother softly hums.



Foster Mother

My husband tells his friends that my work pays for our son’s studies
But I don’t like to think of my being needed as a job
When I hold Chung-hee, I know he wants to stay; he sees me.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Tribute to Persona Poems


Jamey Temple : “I was a writer before I became a mother, but my work’s focus shifted after the adoptions of our oldest son and daughter who arrived home in 2008 and 2010 respectively. They both had a story before coming home to my husband and me; I felt haunted by their first families and embarrassed by my privilege that made our family possible. I began researching adoption and Korean culture to help us and our children understand their stories. At first, I tried to write our experiences as fictional short stories, but I was never satisfied. I turned to poetry, writing through my point of view. Still, I felt there was more I could do as a ‘witness’ to adoption. My breakthrough came when I wrote my first persona poem through the birthmother’s point of view. From there, I wrote more persona poems and studied Korean poetry, finding the sijo, which is a three-line form that predates the haiku, and this form became one channel for the persona poetry. No matter the form chosen, or whether I write through a persona or not, what strikes me is the strength of women and the importance of knowing one’s story.” (web)

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