Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dear writers and others,

I'm running a contest! If you're not interested in poetry at all, then just ignore this. The first 3 people who email me with the correct answer will win a free copy of "Echo Park".

Kate Durbin said this about the book: "From "pink-spangled bikinis" to "your mother's stolen perfume," Christine Hamm's Echo Park is littered with the strange, sexy detritus of life, gorgeous life."

And Rebecca Loudon said this: "These poems are a delicious dreamy basket of puppies with a dank surprise underneath—not the pony every little girl longs for but a portal into a whole wide weirdly and care(fully) imagined world."

The email address for this contest is christinehamm01@yahoo.com. Only responses sent to this particular email can win. If you have already agreed to write a review for me, you're getting a free copy anyway, so please don't enter the contest.

Here is the contest question:

What was the last line of the last poem in Plath's original version of "Ariel", before Hughes rearranged all the poems after Plath's death?

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

[gigya width="300" height="200" quality="high" src="http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/112581010116074801021/fish.swf?" scale="noscale" salign="tl" ]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Because of copyright issues, etc., etc., I am making this a private blog. For the password, please email me at holdingmytongue at yahoo.com.

I will make occasional public updates about artwork, publications and readings, etc.

The rest of the archives will remain up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Awesome video at We Who Are About to Die, the last half century of nuclear explosions:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Like a Prayer
Down on my knees
-- Madonna

Then, the letters sticking in your mouth,
you tell the used car dealer exactly what

color you’re looking for. We hold hands
under the tin awning, the rain buzzing

like a hive on fire. The engine of your
face turns to me, and I ask when you

can choke me again. You put your finger
to my lips, worried that the dealer will

hear us. I watch your new tattoo bleed
limp ink, and the tiger on your shoulder
closes his eyes, as if too tired to answer.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

(This is such a long poem; I feel guilty for writing such a long poem, forcing i ton you)
July, Then Before

Your dark straight hair like some kind of expensive silk skin I wanted to stick my fist through. That Neil Diamond song we practiced all year in the 8th grade out on the front lawn. The album playing in your bedroom. Singing it to each other in the bathroom stalls. How you cried under the redwoods in the national park, worried the raccoons would bite your toes if you slept. How your sleeping bag swarmed with red spiders in the morning. I wanted to show you how to masturbate: I had read about it in my mother’s medical textbook. I wouldn’t let you share my sleeping bag, I wouldn’t let you borrow my bikini. How you told me not to tell anyone else. I'm not the pig you think I am. I'm not the dog you think I am. I 'm not the person you think you are. Can we try this again?

How you were still crying at the breakfast fire, around the burnt sausage in your mouth. Shaken cans of 7-up exploding on our t-shirts, hot dogs with stripes like prison pajamas. We sang in harmony with the record, sometimes you went a few notes higher for contrast. Peanuts made you go to the hospital, boys pretended to like you during recess and made you cry after school. How Billy, the counselor with the scarred lip, told you his dad did it. How you hated your white fat face. You kept saying that, I hate my fat face, when we'd look in bathroom mirrors. Almost matching floor length blue dresses, with transparent flowered sleeves, for the graduation song. Holding hands during the song, the sun so strong I closed my eyes. As you got hot, you smelled more and more of lemon and old tires. How you were better than me at math, how your painted horses always had an alien gleam. Your hairspray made me sneeze. The song had the word blue over and over. Do you really think you’re an animal? one boy asked before he hit you on the back of the head, made you fall to the lawn. You apologized for running over my yellow lab with your bike; I never said anything about pissing on your toothbrush. We sat cross-legged on the front lawn, chewing grass blades, the fat, white, tender part. I’m sorry your parents pretended to love you. I poured all your change down the latrine. Then I kissed your sleeping hand and, for hours, waved the swarming summer bees away from your face. How I bit your arm once, right after a mosquito, to see what it would taste like. Let me tell you about that summer camp.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

New Shop -- you can buy prints, t-shirts, etc. of my artwork.

inexplicable pleasure


Monday, February 21, 2011

As if the moon were still ripe for decontamination

In the sun, he lies on his back and rips the hole larger with his thumb. In the shadows later, he drinks half a warm diet coke. In the mirror, I check my teeth, to see if they're still broken. In the light cast by the bug-zapper, he plays his tapes, swings his daughter right and left, until her wrists bruise and she laughs loudest. In the fields, I lose my purse and one of my flip-flops, the daisy kind. In the backyard, I set up a miniature city, made of paper-mached milk bottles and Christmas lights, right at the edge, as if we still knew each other.


Made with the help of this: http://www.writewords.org.uk/phrase_count.asp

and the text of my next book, Echo Park.

(also, a little bit from a picture on Radish King)

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Finally, another poem. OMG!

My Western, II

The Outlaw Josey Wales. Grace, Idaho.
Red-tailed hawks. A black eye on a girl
hiding behind the corral. A Lady Takes a

Trip-wires for horses. War paint,
eye shadow. A Fistful of Dollars. Cow-
boy hats reeking of smoke and spoiled pork.

Mule deer. Mud Lake, Idaho. Highways
looping over themselves, empty drive-ins.
Coyote brush. Broken stirrups. Bitter

Springs, Arizona. Cigarettes staining the
ceiling of his trailer, his teeth. Pale Rider.
B.B. guns, hand guns, shot guns. Guns with

the serial numbers filed off. Appaloosa.
Star-nosed moles. Robbing the grocery store,
your father’s restaurant. Raccoons. Copper

Beeches. Yellow dust on your tongue, in
the corner of your eye. A Man Called Horse.
Apache, Comanche. Star sedge. A drunk man

singing in the outhouse. A drunk man singing
by the fire. 6 Black Horses. Saguaro cactus.
Condor shadows the size of sinking boats. Black-

tailed jack-rabbits. The Man from Nowhere. Burning
barns. Horses galloping back in. Eureka, California.


The titles in italics are the names of Western movies, or phrases from Western movies. All the town names are real.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Pet Cow

I only see her in summer; in the winter, some man comes, but not often. Short, sharp fur, scar near her shoulder in the shape of California. Black and white and black. Does not hesitate to shit on me when I get near her tail. Eyes like limpid balls of goo or something I could stick my thumbs into. Liquid dotted by vague filaments, possibly parasites. Some man with cold hands, fingers that feel very rough on her teats. I used to tease my skin open with an exacto knife. Ear surrounded by dark swarms. Slow to look and poke, barely interested in what I have in the hand behind my back. She lets me lift her right front hoof and scrape between her toes with a hoofpick. Someone whose voice she never recognizes, no matter how often he calls. I used to tie the trussing string from the roast beef round my arm till my fingers turned dark. Nyquil hummed me to sleep at night, green buddy, thick mulch tongue. His hands, rough and cold. She's a summer animal: I can't imagine her visible barn breath in winter, her huddling next to other cows through the dirty slats, another one munching on her tail, on the tip of her tail til it bleeds like a nipple.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

This is an old one I'd thought I'd give you another look at:

Disaster Porn

He rips the door off the hinges at 4am -- it's not even locked. He stumbles and hits his head on the chair. He lies still, his mouth slightly open. I can smell the piss on his pants -- there's a yellow trail of translucent vomit down one arm. His eyes are so swollen they look like leaking red fruits, as pulpy as plums. He makes himself a bowl of blackberry ice cream and falls asleep. He tips over, wakes up; he steps on the cat's tail, he steps on the cat. He leaves the refrigerator door open, knocks milk all over the red-tiled floor. He turns on the gas stove. He tries to light a cigarette and sets his beard on fire. Milk footprints follow him into the bathroom. He tries to make a knot of the shower curtain and hang himself, he tries to take off his shoes and pants at the same time. He ends up face down in the tub, scrabbling and slipping. He pauses: his breath is wet and heavy. After a moment, he asks for a beer.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

I can't get this to format correctly on blogger -- so you'll just have to click:
Radical rewrite of an earlier poem I've been banging around for years: does it work for you? Fawn, Calf, Mare, I dream... clickie.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

My Overdose

Not like a river. Not like flying. Not a good taste, anywhere. Not dark. Not like a tunnel, not like a train coming out of that tunnel, with me tied across the tracks, me under the wheels. Not like music, playing softly in the distance. Not like the slang, not like anything misspelled or garbled. No small animals at the fringes. Not in the mouth of a large dog. Not like dragging a piano through the street, a rope around my neck. Not like many soft hands. Not like falling deep into a feather bed from a great height. Not like a film playing in slow-motion across my stomach, across my mouth. A little like a tiger, like a tiger falling from a great height in slow-motion, with a rope around her neck, in her mouth, watched by small animals softly in the distance.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

The Future

In the letterbox up the stairs, she found a letter postmarked from the following week. It was cold and wet along one corner, like it had been sitting in snow. She took it into the kitchen and put it on the table in front of him. I'm still waiting, he said, watching her out of the corner of his eye. She took two mugs out of the cupboard and slid them onto the table. She put the mugs back and took out a plate. The plate had grey fingerprints along the rim. I told you, she said. I'm too busy. She dipped the plate into the sink of dirty water, then lifted it out by the edges, and set it gently on the table. They watched the tiny grey soapbubbles crack and disappear. She took his thumb into her mouth and tasted tar and dust, something chalky like soot or medicine. He closed his eyes.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

New drawings for sale at the Etsy shop!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

My Dead Labrador Retriever Visits in the Form of a Hostess

Then, around 8 that morning, I saw the big woman in our garden. She lay between the mounds of snow in a red cocktail dress, her shoulders exposed, the thin straps of her dress biting into her fat white shoulders. I couldn't see her face; she was lying with her back to the window, using her arm as a pillow. She wore scuffed, high-heeled silver sandals -- her legs crossed at the ankles. I stuck my forehead against the glass, hoping to see more. The glass was cold and comfortable against my skin, but after half an hour, my head started to ache. The ache had a beat, in/out. I breathed against the glass and drew an outline of the woman in the steam. I put on my slippers, and then my large, tan, puffy coat, still stained from last week's dog puke. The woman didn't move when I squatted and poked her with a hanger. I touched her shoulder and she felt hot, like frying pan hot. She sighed and rolled over, and said, without opening her eyes, "Nevermind. I was just trying to see if the door was really alarmed."

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Paintings -- one an homage to Nara, obviously.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reunion: 1977

In a line of folding chairs,
our backs to the soccer
field, our palms twitch and float

over the paper-plates
in our laps (egg salad, tuna
salad, potato salad) to keep

the black flies away.
They sting our necks, draw
thin scratches of red.

As the cousin next to me tries
to cram a whole hotdog
into his mouth, I watch Aunt

Wanda’s feet pacing the lawn
in front of us, how the flesh
of her ankle overlaps the tight

dark rim of her patent leather heels.
I worry about her fat little
toes. Aunt Wanda is telling us

God once wept tears of blood,

and that his blood is in our veins
now. Before I can stop myself,
I look at the underside of my wrist.

The vein there remains hidden, blank
as the first page of a book. I think
to myself, maybe.

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Monday, December 13, 2010


Then I'm on my knees in the street of our
summer, my brother staring from his trike,

his lips a pinked oh, blood pooling
honey-like from my mouth, the fresh, car-

washed cars circling like frightened cats --
a scar forming in my throat that will never

heal. This is all your fault, I am trying to say.
The dalmatian reaches for me with a gull cry,

his leash staked to the dying spruce of our
yard. Our mother hums sadly, watching us

through the screen door. In the distance, I
hear someone mow a lawn: sputter, chug, stall.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My intensely beautiful and brave friend, Cheryl Burke, has started treatment for cancer and manages to be funny about it: read her new blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


the ART of CAPTIVITY part two
On view through December 3

The diverse and compelling ways in which captivity is expressed in art & literature

Wednesday, November 17, 6:30-8 pm
46 West 90th St

Moderator: Professor Leonard Cassuto, Fordham University

Jessica M. Kaufman, Kim Luttrell, Anne Sherwood Pundyk, Elizabeth Weiss

Novelist Michael A. Eisner, The Crusader (Doubleday, '01)
Poet Christine Hamm, The Transparent Dinner (Mayapple Press, '06); Saints & Cannibals (Plain View Press, spring '10)

• • • Seats are limited • • •
RSVP: susie@susaneleyfineart.com

Part Two is the sister exhibition to Fordham University's Part One of the same theme

• • • • •

For more information about either exhibition, please visit: www.theartofcaptivity.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 07, 2010

How One Cat Holds the Other

Tongue dipping into an ear, white
paw fixed over the other's neck.
Low growling. Whiskers lifting,
repointed. Black back paw tap-
ping like an impatient tap-dancer
at the door. What serves as an
orange elbow, crooked and in
the air. White fur on red, like a fur
sandwich or a pie made of fur.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Periodic Table of Car Crashes

in the heat, the temporary classrooms ping like empty oil drums
everyone's getting their learner's permit this year

how to doodle a black stallion using three different pens:
movies of people crashing and slides of what happens when people crash

this is called "distracted driving"

what a lightbulb feels like when it touches your wrist

the sounds the starving stray makes as you feed it your cheeseburger
on the back porch

this is what happens when you slam on the brakes

stolen Pabst in our thermoses at lunch, practicing how to
hold a cigarette, strategies for keeping our dads' hands off us

this is what happens when you don't signal

babysitting the neighbor's dog, watching it slip into the pool

this is what happens when you don't check the rearview

the last day of class we all sign a card for the teacher:
I'm not as think as you drunk I am

the bruises his sharp hips left on your thighs

this is what happens when you turn left against the light

the final quiz, multiple choice, ten questions:
writing, wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here
wish you were here

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hotel #7

Are you high? you whispered. The pillows hummed
like sweet pools of lit amethysts, the sheets as smooth

as a girl's long, long back. You worried about cameras
hidden in the walls. I worried that our neighbors' mumbling

had a pulse, a morse-like code. Vending machines rang
robotically, unsteadily, downstairs. Do you want me to be?

Your face edged by the deep blue glow of the pool at night,
how my feet moved so slowly through it, swish, swish.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The 24 Hour Flu

Was what she called it for weeks: all night popcorn,
all night kitchen-wall scouring, all night swearing

and weeping with her hand over the stove's red ringlets.
And then little blue pills with sugar and coffee to help

my headache. We traded lipsticks in hotel parking lots,
me in the front seat, freezing in blue pajamas. Look

what you've done to your daughter,
she was always
yelling at someone, somewhere. In the rearview
mirror, I mouthed to myself, I can't watch.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lost Wax Method

I know about your fall,
the time in the hospital.
I know about 1983.

When the sun stuck its hooks
into the backs of your hands.

When every gesture pushed
through a rubble of dead
birds and someone else's bricks.

This is too hard to read, so let's put
it inside our mouths and suck. All
this 7-11 cake, and we're still hungry.

I want to buy you something,
after all you lost for me. A washing
machine, a can opener, a kitten with six legs.

I'll find you the pill to let you sleep,
I'll find you the silence we paid for.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Take 23

a woman asks, "the horses, which side did they fall
on during the quake?"
and I tell her it hasn't happened yet, to call back in a minute

I'm wearing the same blouse as the girl on TV,
the same tiny brown flowers that flow up the neck,
the same plastic, pearlized buttons, and in this dream,
you're taking it off me, button by button,
until something like a fishhook jabs your hand and you yell;

I want to apologize,
but I'm standing by the river and shivering,
and you're still on TV

and someone else answers your cell,
sounding like a pilot or help desk employee,
shouting louder and louder
until vibrations fill the glass box

and it's then that the horses shift and pound in their stalls,
making those
small coughing noises called "whinnies"

then that the payphone under the dung pile rings again,
and the receiver slides out of my hand,
a large-eyed fish looking up at me,
trying to fly and failing

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

PingPong East Coast Launch Party at Happy Ending

The Henry Miller Library announces the annual publication of PingPong, a journal of the arts. Serving up the best from the global literary and art scene by publishing a vibrant group of poets, writers, artists, and photographers, this issue continues PingPong’s commitment to the raw aesthetics set forth by Henry Miller and Anais Nin.

PingPong is hosting its East Coast Launch Party at the Happy Ending Lounge -- a former brothel, but don't worry, it's smelling sweet now -- on Saturday, October 16, featuring readings by contributors Joanna Fuhrman, Cheryl Burke, Jennifer Firestone, Whitney Porter, Kate Hall, Lucas Chib, Joanna Penn Cooper, Valerie Fox, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Michelle DuPre`, Douglas Piccinnini, Nathan Austin, and Monica Colbert, as well as editors Maria Garcia Teutsch and Christine Hamm. Readings begin at 7:00 pm. 302 Broome St., NY, NY. Free.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Hotel #10

Aqua cinderblock, channel stuck
to the preacher's face, the curling

message along the bottom promising
you an answer to your call. The air

conditioner, humming, dripping
like a sick bulldog. The mattress

dipping in the center like a punched-in
stomach. How the doorknob breaks

after the second day, so one of us
has to stay awake all the time. The last

coke from the vending machine, ticking
on the nightstand farthest away from me.

Your mother on the phone. Your girl-
friend. So hot it hurts to touch the pink

blanket; you slip a wet washcloth
under my neck. I touch your hair

with my tongue as you sleep-talk.
Comfort, lasting a minute.

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