Saturday morning. He opened his eyes to see her lying there next to him. He smiled, moving her hair behind her ear, softly brushing her left cheek in the process. She moved her head abruptly. The blankets ruffled as her toes pointed underneath the sheets. Good morning, she whispered, as she stretched her arms in bed, slowly opening her eyes. He loved the way her breathing would change when he touched her body. He kissed her right hand, laughing quietly to himself. All it took was a touch to send shivers running down her spine. He could feel her heart beating faster and faster. They laid there, soaking in the morning sun.

-Justin Ryan Kim, Shivers

Step by Step

At the end of the day, you’re still the one. You’re still the one I want to talk to. You’re still the one I want to love. You’re still the one that I want to care for. Because you’re you. And that’s something I won’t be able to find in anyone else. I can’t help what I’m feeling, something about you is different. You’re you — and one day, I’ll be able to tell you that face to face, he thought to himself as he watched her walk away. Past the steps, through the terminal. As much as he wanted to chase after her, he knew that sometimes the best thing to do was let go.

-Justin Ryan Kim, Step by Step

A Note on Fear

Some live their lives thinking they have to find their distance. Distance between their friends, their family, the people they love. They get scared. Scared that if they get too close, they’ll be overwhelmed, too far and they’ll be abandoned. What I’ve come to realize is that distance isn’t so bad. It’s not something we should be afraid of. It’s hard. I know. To live with so many uncertainties. To live unafraid of the things that we cannot control. But that’s life. We can’t always be in control. So the only thing we can do, is live it.

-Justin Ryan Kim, A Note on Fear

The Number 4

I remember those summer nights, the 4 train would always be down late night. We would get restless waiting for the train. Whether it was the heat or humidity, one of us would always get pissed off. The subway stations were miserable in the summertime. So instead of waiting around for the train that never seemed to come, we’d walk to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, post up, talk shit, drink 40’s and reminisce. We would talk about how crazy it was that we were both in the city, chasing our dreams. We’d sit there for hours. Sometimes we’d talk for hours. Other times, we’d just take in the sounds of the city and just be. We’d pour some out for all the homies. I remember you’d always poured out more than I did, haha. And I’d always call you out on it. You always had some excuse why. Low key, we both knew it was because you couldn’t hang. I guess you never were a great drinker, haha.

-Justin Ryan Kim, The Number 4

The ground underneath my feet

I thought that as we lived on there would be a time we’d meet again, I practiced, prepared. I thought about what I would say, the moment I saw her. I had fallen and Instead of getting up, I lived a rather quiet life, never looking up, waiting, knowing for the rest of my life I’d be waiting forever her to fall. That if I lived quietly, alone, that it would be fine. That with the ground under me, I’d never have to think for anyone but myself. 

-Justin Ryan Kim, The ground underneath my feet


The kiss that should have lead to a happy ending left me empty, unknowing and longing for more. It was a newly formed love that ended before it began. A feeling that made me question whether it was love that I had found or a self-indulged dream that I was unconsciously trying to fulfill. It became an empty room at the end of a long hallway. It’s purpose to stow away; deep, a place where lost dreams go, where love lost continues to fall, a place where things don’t get picked up again, where the reality of an unpredictable, haunting fate grows and grows and grows, always growing. It leads me to wonder, if a career or a marriage or a house would bring happiness. Or if that room, would continue to follow. I’m not even sure what’s in that room, but I’m so sure it exists. 

-Justin Ryan Kim, Beyond


Words are born out of ones mouth and dies in another’s ears. But some words don’t die, they don’t disappear, they make it to the heart, lingering relentlessly. Words need to come out in order to make it to the heart. They need to exist in order to be accepted. And with acceptance, it creates space for action to come forward. Like words, a heart isn’t something that’s taken, it’s something that comes to you, given, on its own accord.

-Justin Ryan Kim, Weight


I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I never gave you a voice.

I’m sorry I gave up.

I’m sorry I was selfish.

I’m sorry that I didn’t see things clearly.

I’m sorry that I didn’t let you in.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t let go.

I’m sorry that I didn’t try harder.

I’m sorry I was so naive.

I’m sorry that I made you so miserable.

Im sorry that I kept going.

I’m sorry that I didn’t stop.

I’m sorry that I didn’t speak more quietly.

I’m sorry that I blew things out of proportion.

I’m sorry that I didn’t make you happy.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t enough for you.

I’m sorry that I made you cry.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t enough.

I’m sorry that I pushed you.

I’m sorry I couldn’t tolerates

I’m sorry I couldn’t understand.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see it.

I’m sorry that I lost you.

I’m sorry that I lost myself.

I’m sorry that I didn’t know your limits.

I’m sorry that I pushed it too far.

I’m sorry that I pushed you over the ledge.

I’m sorry that I brought you so much discomfort.

I’m sorry that I was the source of your depression.

I’m sorry that I was the source of your anxiety.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t see through it all.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t hear your cries.

I’m sorry that I didn’t help.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be the one.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be your person.

I’m sorry that you weren’t always my priority.

I’m sorry I wasn’t more considerate.

I’m sorry that I didn’t love you enough.

I’m sorry that I didn’t show you my love.

I’m sorry that I made you feel like you didn’t matter.

I’m sorry that I didn’t show you your worth.

I’m sorry I didn’t know what I had till it was gone.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. 

Justin Ryan Kim, Spinning


Sometimes I’d close my eyes, and you’d still be there. It felt natural, the way you consumed my life — they said things come in waves, and you came down crashing. Leaving me completely consumed. It wasn’t until the calm settled; that I had to face the aftermath. I wasn’t sure how to anticipate what was to come. And the quiet after the storm was not as inviting as they all claimed.

I still wake up on your side of the bed — not that you had a side per-say, it was always more yours than it was mine — the smell of you always lingering.

The comfortable discomfort of your baby hairs tickling the tip of my nose — my drowsed attempts to articulate a play-by-play of the unconscious escape from your pillow fortress to the nook between my head and left shoulder each morning.

Seven cycles later, you still lingered. The light blue pilling on the gray sheets, a remnant of the 3 pajama set you got in Dongdaemun, the ones you clearly overpaid for. I never admitted it, but they were cute, in an endearing way, the way they started to ware sheer three months in — you were convinced that they came that way. The same way I was convinced, I’d wake up to you each morning. Your baby hairs never under control. Your head in the same nook between my chin and left shoulder. The smell of you — always lingering.

The last thing I wanted was to look down and reflect, counting the ripples instead of seeing what was staring back at me.

“Perhaps we’ll meet again when we’re better for each other,” I thought, “or perhaps you were never a wave — but a riptide I had to fight to get out of, or maybe I’m still fighting.”

— Justin Ryan Kim, Waves