BJ Dawson
2 min readFeb 28, 2024

TzeLin, this one is indeed fascinating. I enjoyed reading about the unique process you used as the seed to this poem.

And yeah, I can see how this poem might offend others or leave them with hurt feelings. If I had read it without reading your apology first, I doubt I'd have been offended, but I probably would've only seen it as perhaps an unintentional projection on your part.

And yet, even if that's all it is (it is more than that) it stands as a provocative, evocative piece of art, which is precisely what we poets strive for, so congrats to you.

I chose the above line to comment on because it really struck a chord within me. My earliest memory, the moment I gained sentience, the moment "the lights came on" for me, is steeped in domestic violence. My father battered my mother in front of me from the time I was four until I was six when she finally retaliated. I recall the fear, the helplessness, like it was yesterday. I couldn't stop a grown man. I was only four. So I stopped myself. Became quiet, shy, withdrawn, "well-behaved".

Unpacking all of this in therapy, I came to a startling revelation; I had no idea how much of my personality was me versus how much was my trauma. I'm 51 now. 47 years of letting my inner four-year-old call the shots. I'm rambling, but anyway, your line here is as insightful as it is emotionally devastating.

I'm glad you didn't remove your poem. It may well inspire yet another poem from me about grappling with my own trauma. Thanks for confirming that we can do hard things.

BJ Dawson

Medium Top Procrastinator. Guilty of writing under the influence. No, I’m not upset. My face always looks this way. INTP