Wednesday, December 24, 2008


We sprawl, belly-down
next to the blue, frying.

Our pinkies touch, do not
touch. We are hipless,

titless, thin as the curled
rinds of tangerines littering

the stairs. Our pink-spangled
bikinis sag, loose as empty

burlap sacks. Our sun-whitened
hair spreads across the stones,

green as new corn, fragrant
as beach trash, as your mother's
stolen perfume.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I promised my two writing classes that I would pick the best poems from each and post them.

So here they are -- written as reverse poems of Mark Strand's The Dress.

English 1101 -- Freshman


I am Not Perfect After All

I stay awake in the dark valley
with the sun's warmth on my face,
my skin, naked as the flowing stream,
and I hear the voice of a bird
extending its wings across the face of the sun,
is this folly or a song,
escaping my ears with its white feathers
and as I step into my clothes, walking towards the light,
the bird finds me, so did its sweet voice and the message it speaks.
Although I woke up in the light, what I couldn't understand
is what I did or never did.

Writing 303 -- Juniors


The Valley

Stand up on the vast valley and
reach out for the blazing sun, just at the tip of your fingers
Your body sings as the wind caresses your naked skin,
and you shall hear the lark singing its lonely tune,
sharing the depth of his kindness,
or the hummingbird, humming its low pitch songs,
telling you his glee, and his smile.
Cascading your thoughts with sprinkles of honey.
But once you put your mask back on, putting on a facade for the outside world,
the sun, the lark, and the hummingbird shall all be gone,
as you yet again walk the humdrum walk of everyday life
Wishing for the day to see the valley again.
Echo Park

The parking lot after
9 pm. The truck

pretending to be empty
on the front lawn.

The barred windows,
the small yellow walls,

the poodle-mix chained
to a hole. The black

barking, the florescent
buzz, the winged beetles,

flinging themselves
at the endless electric light.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Live Oak in Winter

diseased, you lean deeper, deeper
into our walls, drop dumb beetles

past our windows: slow smasher
of the soft dry porch held together

with glue and hand-made nails,
stuttering smearer of the paint mixed

in a milk-bucket, stupid sleepy fist,
stupid man, you tilt like a smacked

pinball machine, like an old drunk,
waiting for the loud yellow engine
to arrive from the sky and crush you

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Golden Gate Park

I have lost a glove. We lie
on the grass; it is cold but

not damp. A loud blue
bird hops behind your

head. Something small
with fur is watching us,

bright twitch. Singing
men with long beards

surround us, then step
into the redwoods.

It gets colder. Geese
appear and disappear

in the clouds. You hold
my hand between your

two hands and rub.
The light dims like a pink

hood covering our faces.
On a distant hill, a marvelous
fork tunes itself in the sun.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy dance!

I just got a chapbook accepted by Pudding House!

I've been rejected by them (cough) often in the past, so I'm so thrilled!

It's called "Dampen".

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Dad Parade

how they disappeared each morning
in silver or blue cars smelling

of old newspapers
before we had even fought

our way out from under
the heavy dreams of sinking boats

and black lakes, of the family
cat stuck in the oak at the edge

of the park and us wearing
mittens and no pants,

with no way to climb
without falling down and down

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Riding Gear

spurs, the illegal kind, with silver spangles and sharp
points turning and flashing, like the stars kiss his ribs

and come back red-faced, blood on a black coat looks
like streaks of sweat, the bit bites into the corners

of his mouth, polka-dot sores bloom like marigolds,
froth spatters his dark chest, his mane grows wet

and twists in the heat, all sheen gone, the girth
rides back along his lesser ribs, the martingale keeps

his head tucked down so he runs with a stutter,
his hooves flair out, leads with his left, the cheekpiece

is loose, the saddle slipping, on the last fence he tips
the top rail, red and blue, ribbons flutter from his tail,

the whip stings his belly, the soft part, where it lightens
to the color of dusk, reflected in a rearview mirror



Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm on NY1!

Yee-ha. I'm the one in vinyl.

Lights in my face.

Our Last Big Fight

We are outside, surrounded
by women with empty mouths.
They stand under tents, behind
rows of books.  They hand us
little pieces of paper, their eyes
searching our eyes, as if they
might recognize us, as if we
are merely waiting
for the right moment to tell
them we are cousins, to give
them a gift.

I turn towards them;
you walk away.
Darkness approaches like a horrible
dress or a loud, broken train.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dorothy Shorn

awake in a field
of poppies, her underwear
missing, the lion mewling

on his back in the distance,
everything is glitter --
her skin glows like

she's been licking a light
socket, she touches her head,
the braids gone, under her finger-

tips, her fuzz feels as sweet and
strange as a monkey
lost in the milk barn, a riddle

that can only be answered
with an axe or egg

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forgetting the Words

the six-inch cardboard city on the left
is overrun with trembling strings of flame,

the rising cotton balls of smoke form horses
and silverware, the wolves, their pink wax

lips curled into slick waves of desire and rage,
are so close to us, to the woman holding a baby

to her chest: her wig of real human hair sprayed stiff
as if whipped by wind across her eyes, barefoot,

though the plaster snow, with its painted crescents
of shadow, is up to her knees

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mother, Nurse, Mouth

fevered, submerged, she dreams
of hands holding her down, wrapping
her in medical dressings, her skin
a wound now as they wind her

a spider turning her sideways, laying
her on her stomach with rapid, spiny,
stiff legs, the filmy matter covering
her neck, her ears, her eyes already
closed, she barely feels the bite

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Selected Fragments

my brother calls from his basement

a rusty coffee can

lava rippling down a mountain

dressed in black satin and feathers

a dislocated thumb

as people age, their shoes last longer

who would ever believe a dog could fly?

wet as a dumped basket of fish

tipping two spoonfuls of lead pigment into your cup

the twins howling in the backyard

your face as unfolded as a five-year-old's

a German woman with an aria

run over by very heavy, very tiny trucks

as if there's a hand or robe over the phone

she guarantees him nothing

Monday, October 06, 2008

Marginalia on Rappaccini's Daughter

    my mouth,
the other makes a fist
and rubs under
        her chin, the sides
of her mouth, her ears as she lifts her

slowly twists her head,

drooling with pleasure
    the noise from the street

the breath behind me

    light disappears, flickers

        long wet fingers tap the

engine approaching

        her pupils widen
            until there’s nothing, black
I have been very sick -- sick, sick, sick. And I still am, but the fever's gone so I can think a little more clearly.

Here's that interview that ran on the local NPR station -- do I sound like an idiot?


Friday, September 26, 2008

My First Death: The High Window

White moths rise like steam: dawn
bright as a headache and I'm still

breathing in a birdcage of gristle, tendon --
lawn clippings up my nose, whole except

for an absent molar, my brother dancing
his red yo-yo above my face, singing

his song about the bees, the one that repeats,
the one he always gets wrong.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Every Child, a Happy Child

Dawn, bright as a needle in the eye. From the corner,
he asks me about the cats in the rocking chair. He asks

me if I can still walk, and how I got the hole above
my ear. I ask him if it's still Tuesday.  He asks me

if peanut butter, by itself, is a complete meal and I ask
him where he hid the jar of quarters. He asks if I know

where our parents have gone, and if I know how to make
pancakes.  I ask him how he got the scratch on his nose

and why he is still wearing the Bart Simpson t-shirt
from last night.  I tell him to check the hood of the car

to see if it's still warm.  I tell him to see which shoes
are missing. I tell him not to cut his hair again by himself.  

I tell him to open a can of cat food and spread it on the front
porch with a fork. I tell him not to be scared, that the cats

will leave his chair and that peanut butter lasts a long time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace killed himself. I can't even....

I remember seeing him read when I first moved to NYC at Dixon Place. I remember reading Broom of the System when I was in college. He's three years older than me. He consistently blew me away with everything he wrote.


Monday, September 08, 2008

I just want to make you aware of two poetry readings this week that should be fabulous and also, what a coincidence, that I am in!

Nuclear Poetry


Laura Bykowski
Geoffrey Dicker
Alyssa Goldstein
Christine Hamm
Ibrahim Siddiq
Afton Wilky
Aaron Wimmer

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

9:00pm - 10:30pm
Elmo Restaurant
156 7th Avenue
New York, NY

The Poetry Brothel


Stephanie Berger
Nick Adamski "Tennessee Pink"
Valzhyna Mort
Amy Lawless
Paige Taggart
Christine Hamm

and a large bevy of other hotties, inappropriately dressed and ready to "perform"

Friday, September 12, 2008 at 9:00pm
Papa B Studios
907 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, September 07, 2008

At the Temple of Last Chance

Sun glitters as slick
as new nail polish
on the shot glass prizes,
the wet upper lip
of the man who hands
her another five ping-pong
balls for fifty cents.

She barely misses
the fishbowl in the middle
of all the fishbowls,
the red and blue-finned
fish sideways and half-boiled,
the bowls bulging
like tired eyes.

He doesn't watch
her lose, tips his chin
toward the pinkly glowing
Ferris wheel, squinting
as if the light were some
kind of gimmick
he has yet to figure out.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A or B?

A) Amanda, Alisa, Anna, Bethany

someone is whispering names
at the doctor's office,
I am trying to turn my head
to see who: a goldfish
is chewing his way through
my palm, an absent, wriggling pain

when I wake up I'm on my back
porch, my breath bleaching the air
the empty beech trees
across the windblown lawn
clatter then still

my back aches while I rake
the horse stalls; the barn empty
for years, but sometimes I remember
laying on the back of a mare,
putting my cheek down along her neck
and feeling the blaze of heat from her skin

somewhere, there is a math in this,
someone could calculate addition and loss

the wind knocks the shuddering barn door
against its hinges, my daughter
would have hands like me,
this bent thumb, but much smaller

B) Invisible Animals Crowd Round Your Face

Amanda Alisa Anna Bethany someone is whispering names at the doctor's office I am trying to turn my head to see a goldfish is chewing his way through my palm an absent wriggling pain when I wake up I'm on my back porch my breath bleaching the air the empty beech trees across the windblown lawn clatter then still my back aches while I rake the horse stalls the barn empty for years but sometimes I remember laying on the back of a mare putting my cheek down along her neck feeling the blaze of heat from her skin somewhere there is a math in this someone could calculate addition and loss the wind knocks the shuddering barn door against its hinges my daughter would have hands like me this bent thumb but smaller

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


that winter after my father left the rain
wouldn't stop: soggy telephone poles

dropped their thin-fingered electrical
cables into our driveway,

but he had already taken the good car,
the Mazda, left us the pick-up

while the houses started to come undone,
tilting like insomniacs' tents;

overnight our neighbors' bungalow
collapsed and slid like a canoe

into the apple orchard where deer
picked through the mud,

their hooves sticking,
three species of algae speckling

the hair around their mouths
as their low heads tongued

the wormy flattened fruit;
they had already learned
to eat the damage themselves.

Also, you poets, have you heard about this?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The poetry brothel last night was fantastic!!  I worked very hard on my costume -- it turned out sort of Renaissance/neovictorian/steam punk and I think it looked pretty hot.  Many people took photos of me -- far less actually asked for readings -- hey! I think I actually developed some paparazzi...

Anyway, I got to perform for the whole crowd, and managed to almost make them puke with the last poem (I heard some illish groans).  So I had a good time.  Here's some pics:

My lovely costume:

Me and some of the crazy poets --Joey, Lauren, Paige, Nick (and the madame, Stephanie):

More photos on my new flickr account. Check it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Boat

the boys paddled around us in their canoe
they threw turtles we screamed and rescued the turtles
one hung on to my little finger wouldn't let go
you tickled his chin so soft slowly when I was crying
the turtle opened his mouth you hit him with a plank
and he sunk without a breath

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Make a Red Coat

Take from the lint trap in the dryer all the soft fuzz and thread, and drape it over the faucet in your neighbor's bathtub. Your neighbor won't mind; he misses the horses in his home country and is drunk by breakfast. He sits by the window, refusing to look up or out when you walk in. He's worn the same black pants for days. The smell makes your eyes water, so leave the front door open. Go down to the tiny store under the stairs and buy two gallons of cranberry juice from the depressed pregnant woman. A monster covered in brown feathers will follow you home. He refuses to make a sound, just blinks his large yellow eyes, even when you pluck a feather and slide it into the bucket under your arm. Take the monster by the shoulder and tuck him into your neighbor's bed. Now, during the night, they'll both have a reason to howl.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Me, during a reading during the launch of "Ping Pong" just after an interview about my "poetic process" for the local NPR station. I'm so nervous after the interview the only thing I can hear is the blood pounding in my ears -- there could have been an earthquake and I never would have known.

More poems soon. She promised.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Tell-Tale Heart

drawn on the side of his neck

two umbrella handles touching or an upside-
down "J" kissing itself in the mirror (gringa
loca he always calls me crazy white girl)
bees circling like confused crossing

guards his mouth a thin coat-hanger
wire before I even finish I rub at

the thin ink with my wet thumb
and then my tongue when it
refuses to budge he swats
and asks me what

the hell were you thinking

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Drowned Mouse

It's hot. So hot he sweats
in a circle where my hand
touches the hairy pool of his stomach.
We are beached on top
of the covers, pillows
spilled and ripped
all over the old carpet
we hauled in from the curb.
The fan's on,

but I feel nothing.
Nothing seems
to move. Why don't you love
me anymore? he says.

I wonder where all
the flies came from;
it's so hot and suddenly,
there's all these flies.

Went on a lovely retreat with Dorianne Laux. She read my book and liked it, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to Survive a Sinking Ship

Wave hands, palm outwards, in a slow and graceful motion. Warm sweaters. A history of movies ending with a sunset. A tendency to avoid artichoke hearts. Run up and down near the railing, get your circulation going -- you will need it! Tie heavy objects around your neck. Put your last will and testament in the toes of your tapshoes. Practice "glug-glug" to yourself. Say it in a whisper. Pucker your mouth so you look like a goldfish. Jump into the arms of the nearest captain. A sore back. Abrupt seating on deck. Water the color of tarnished coins, of old shoes. It is only true if you say it is. Water can be both heavy and cold. The swimming pool is so uninviting; deck chairs like fallen tentacles. Ignore the moans of the elderly, take their hats and see how far they sail. All along, you were only entertainment. The stage has shifted, left, then down.

Monday, July 21, 2008

falling/her fists full

cat growling under the chair/broken shoelace/four-square/tripping over the toy tank in the driveway/the wrong word in French/the cleaning woman having her tea on the kitchen table/burnt rice for the fourth time/something skittering in the walls around midnight /breaks her right hand/her brother moaning in his sleep/a head-sized hole in the hallway floor, she can see all the way to China/sunburn along the left side of her face/a butterfly on her cast/the chair falling backwards because he leaned too far/the taste of chalk/poison oak rubbed in her underwear while she was showering/drawings of horses in marker along the wall/abandoned tree house/the swing shattering mid-air/crutches for the fallen boy, forgotten in the tool shed/peeling tennis balls, swollen and soft in the creek/rubbing cold cans of soda around their necks/falling when the horse stopped quick at the fence/getting up laughing, dizzy as a dying bee

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Name Change

I want him in the supply closet
at the lawyer's office, waiting for the
half hour to pass, I want him
to protest, softly, I want him to call
my name, twice, and I want him
to kneel with his head under my skirt.
I want him to take me, there, as
the attorney parses my husband's divorce
petition, and I want us both to pause,
trembling, while the receptionist
calls us and tries my cell phone,
and I want us to stay there, in the dim room,
with the door locked from the outside.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

beyond the porch steps

the ground is full of entrances:
rivulets, groins, fissures,
glands swelling from under
brown leaves crisp as paper,

roots grab hold
and twist like a blind
hand finding an eye,

dark mold,
in the crotch of things,
on the rotted squirrel
skull, on the fallen hive

Monday, July 07, 2008

On Dying in the Kings County ER

You slip from your wheelchair
to the floor, it's too dark outside
in the tiny windows, too late at
night, the sky all one dark pupil,
and the coffee machine
at the nurses' station is broken.  

An orderly kicks your foot, perhaps
she hears a sigh from somewhere
else, thinks it's you, believes you
are still breathing.

Dead, the smudged linolemn
is cool along your cheek.  You
don't mind it so much. The last six months,
the stroke made everything a pain
in the ass; your fingers refused
to unpeel from pencils,
the smirk in the garbageman's eye
made you throw books, and your children
kept switching their names.

Now you have no name.  Your fingers
and toes get colder, a peculiar heaviness
fixes you to the floor but your muscles
no longer ache, your bowels no longer
sing their bombastic, unhappy tune.

Somewhere, a TV high on a wall
is playing "Cheers" and you finally
feel your skin brightening, lifting
to the tempo of the laugh track.

A man with a dark hat is touching
your chair, a nurse is knelt at your
wrist, but you are hot now, feeling
the sun as you did that day

at the beach in Coney Island:
a new bikini, a new strip of skin
burning at the top of your hips
but you were beautiful and you
knew it, wringing your wet hair
into some smiling boy's face, laughing
and shrieking as he grabbed your arm, and

it's that kind of burning now, that kind of
joy, as the room glows beneath you and
more people gather, and more attention
comes, all too late to tie you down.


I have a feeling this is going to be rewritten a LOT, but I haven't posted even a draft in forever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Theory of Personality

There is a cat inside my cat; there is an orange
inside this orange.  I keep the lid on tight except
 when I'm sleeping, so I nap all day, under my
desk, in the ladies' room, on my boss's sweet
carpet when he is at lunch.  Then I arrive home
to hit the couch and sleep again, but I am too
hungry to sleep.  My commute is literally killing
me -- crossing the street is risking the loss of one
or two limbs, or even your head or ears.  The angry
bus drivers sit waiting on every corner, their feet
hovering above the gas.  I'm so wound up I grind
my teeth down to my gums.  I'm so eager to dream
I sprinkle plastic fairy dust on my cupcakes.  I
would keep the lid on tight if I hadn't lost it.  You
know what going "postal" means. Sometimes a letter
is just a random collection of vowel sounds.  I took
a workshop on filing off your fingerprints at the
New School. There is a story inside this story.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Backwards Map

shapeless and stained, how my sister gave the man with three burros
directions, what the girl with the red kerchief around her neck meant

when she smiled and pointed to the broke-down bus, the sky, a boarded-up
gas station, a pile of black gears the size of hands, a no-name country,

the absent smell of gas, the scent of oranges being peeled by sweating
hands, rocky streets with grey felt hats pulled down, eyes so dark

its-good-to-see-you and we're-not-speaking the same black look when lids
peel back, old women on stools selling peeled mangoes in buckets, tying

and retying braids as black as burnt fuel, hips spread like buckets
of rising bread, why the tourists in their go-carts forget what indigo and

come here mean, how commands and pleas fall into disuse, everything
reduced here to a simple statement: the man rode his bike to the river

and the store lacks eggs and peppermint, how, in street children's dreams,
a third language surfaces, multi-hued, prickly, for some the words

are feathered, for some underwater,  how, for my sister, the tongue
is stuck, sleeping under netting, in the heat and muck


Sorry for the neglect. I had my purse stolen (which takes sooo much time to respond to) and I've been ill. Quite ill.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


You call me
at one in the morning,
asking if we
can be friends now,
if enough time
has passed.  
You tell me you think
I'm a good person,
except the word
"person" has too
many "r"s.  I can see
you are making
an effort; you have saved
your last beer for the end
of this conversation.  
I know it's right
next to your knuckles
on the table-- you keep
touching it accidentally.
I have so little
to say;  I tell you
it's raining again
and the black terrier
you gave away
in June died
of cancer
last week.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Questionable Taste

What do you like,
he says afterwards.
They're propped up on
pillows, not smoking,
wishing they had
something to do
with their hands.  
Her eyes follow
the shadowed gap
between the ceiling
and wall, wondering,
once again,
what lives in there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This is what happens when I try to introduce myself...

I can't hear the Seattle or California. I believe that means they're mine.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Number 54, the Gesture

I lick your hands, your frequent,
your lily-scented hands, your gloves,
your dark gloves

the things they can do to eyes,
the things they do to my, my
stutter along the edge of this railing,
I fear your nearness, your near hands,

the face of your hands, your faceless hands,
your hat, your hat in your hands, one hat
in your hands, one hat on your head, sun in
your eyes, hands shading, the sun in
your hands, my heart in your hands,
the sun, the lily of your hands

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Subtle Suitor

you lean over the boat's metal railing
and vomit the day's stale meal, canned

cherries, pickled oranges, the salmon
from another country, as you are distracted

I cut off your braid (a souvenir) then
offer you my elbow for support

we shuffle back to your cabin, you wiping
your mouth with your pink silk sleeve

as you recline on velvet pillows, I offer you
more brandy, this time I promise

the flames will not go out, fever sweat
coats your upper lip, I unbutton your shoes,

your skin grays like the sun, your eyelashes
lick upward, settle

what kind of woman lies so easily, I ask myself
your gold rings cold, small as bird hearts, in my palm

Monday, May 12, 2008

Her Water, Breaking

     phlegm, icor and

    thick waves of chocolate and gasoline

                and electricity streams
        from my tongue to your thumb

above our raft of cotton sponges,  trees on their heads,
        roots swirling,
passing, cracking, shivering,
            shedding earth and worms

        silver spoons and knives caught
            in root joints, a squirrel skull

the little animals killed
        and lied about

    a velvet speculum
        old wooden machines, still grinding underwater

            the blue ribbons
        our mother stole and tied to twigs
                outside her abbey

            in the heat,
        our hair rises like wings

                a doll's table
    set with glitter and flames,
                turning, dipping

your ivory handcuffs, scrimmed
        with our mother's lost recipes

silk surgeon's scrubs
cinnamon scalpel

        built for our bodies

Friday, May 09, 2008

I made this for a friend's birthday party, today! I had to work really fast. Hopefully the paint will dry by the time I give it to her.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Dance

alone on stage
except for the music,
a man in the shape of a boat,
in the shape of lava rippling
down the mountain, slow, lardish,
white as regret, we watch

because it's weird, because it's
nothing we've ever seen before
except maybe in medical textbooks

a handful of walnuts in each portion
of drooping skin, in each flap like
the flaps of a shark's gills, a whale's
gills, and he's a white whale of man

thighs, calves swollen into the shape
of rough buckets, the texture of lard,
the color of lard, the lard kept

next to the kitchen sink in a rusty coffee
can, lard spooned out to fry chicken, steak,
then scraped back into the coffee can after
the lard has hardened into its soft white
shape, dunes of it slapped against the side
of the pan like sand dunes, like it was built
by waves beating against the force of it,
the heft of it, and the flaps hanging

off the fat man ripple in waves,
and then he stops dancing and he picks
his dress up off the floor, and it's enormous,
the biggest one we've ever seen, green
as the earth in paintings, as the noon sky before

a storm, and he's fitting it over
his enormous arms, and he pulls it
down over his shoulders bulging
with soft fistfuls of fat, and the hem
falls softly like a sigh to his ankles,
and we see it has sparkles everywhere,
it's like the fucking stars on fire

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Today I went jogging again and I still ache from it but I had the entirely joyful experience of reaching the nearby sculpture garden when I ran and seeing some really hot artists (I'm sorry, they were good-looking, I can't help it) work on finishing their sculptures for the big opening this weekend. One particularly GQ looking guy with a goofy grin was packing the earth around his wooden structure, which was kind of like a smashed house, and a mocking bird perched directly above him and sang all the songs of all the other birds. I tried to get closer to hear better but the bird flew away. However, as I left the park, the bird followed me and perched on a telephone pole and started the whole cycle of songs again, and even included the noises of crickets, which was quite cool, as I haven't heard a bird do that before.

Also, I heard Philip Levine read. His work was ab -fab. I didn't think I liked him before, but I definitely do now. I got to see him because my lovely friend Whitney with the beautiful hair that falls in her eyes got an invitation and invited me. We agreed that Philip was wonderful but disagreed about the fiction writer, who will go unnamed but who makes boring female characters with no real emotions.

One of the most interesting things about the reading was that the audience was comprised almost entirely of aliens -- excepting myself and my friend. They were older white people, the likes of which I had never seen before. They were all dressed the same, they all had the same body language, and I'm sure they were all semi-famous writers who were quite satisfied with themselves and their lovely work about men and women who are just too numb to feel, dammit, and who display their inability to feel in silence and thoughts about the light or street in front of their houses. They were frumpy in a rich way, and occasionally exchanged piercing looks. They moved slowly but significantly.

I think I will never end up that way, but I might end up in a roomful of "them" someday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Driving with the Top Down

You're touching my waist, my hips, but it's not you,
it's the guy who looks like you and we're climbing

the stairs between rooms of warm pink light, complicated
wallpaper and soft, soft gray couches.  One of my

friends -- the long-haired one with hand tattoos --
is trying to teach us guitar, but we can only watch

each other's lips and tongues.  Your words have a
feel, they feel like felt or a wool skirt and everything

is just a little too hot so I take off my skirt and I'm
wearing my knee socks pulled all the way

up and some high-heeled boots which catch on
the rug while we leave the noisy warm room with

its guitar music and lacy pink drapes, but you catch
my hand, you grab me by the elbow and haul me

up and you say, next time, I'm driving.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Swimming Lessons

We went down
to the grey river that
runs through
the middle of the city
and I decided to take
all my clothes off
and go for a swim.

We had to climb
down a chainlink fence
and over some rocks
and push a baby
stroller and toilet
seat out of the way.

The police came
while he was trying
to follow me
into the river.
He had his shirt off
and he hadn't shaved
for three days,
so they were sure
he was a terrorist
or at least some kind
of marginal street capitalist
with too many parking tickets.

When I pulled myself
out of the water,
my teeth were chattering
like ice in a glass,
clink, clink,
and I had to comb
a condom out of
my hair. I was
mad he left me
alone like that
and I haven't seen
him since, though
sometimes he sends
me letters and asks
me why I won't come
visit him in jail.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday Night And

I imagined that you
would be sucking my
toes by now, but I'm
alone with my cat
who just stinks
and puts more stink
in the corner,
and I think about the hour
I spent sitting on
the edge of the bathtub
trimming my toenails
and painting them
with that new
cheap polish that
I got at the drugstore
where they always
look at me funny,
like I'm going to steal
a Mother's Day Card
or a Birthday Card
or a bottle of pills, and
my toenails sparkle
like flaming batons
as I wave my foot in time
to the music of the TV
commercial and
isn't it funny
how a room can
seem so empty
even when there's
so many things in it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Year 12

A yellow wall full of framed photos. In the center
frame, a pair of scissors. Underneath the framed
scissors, a row of three carving knives with neon
green plastic handles. Underneath that, to the
right: a smiling, plump woman with short gray
hair holds up a very large triangular knife. She
holds the knife in a fist raised above her shoulder.
To the left: a simple serrated blade with a wooden
handle on a dark blue background. Next to
that , a small pair of pinking shears, ornately
framed, a cherub dancing at each corner.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dating a Drunk

    the perpetual present tense and lists
kissing an ashtray
    kissing a gin bottle
inserting a wet thumb into his neck,
its neck, getting stuck at the knuckle

        give up
            the idea of a cure,
the talking cure, the wincing cure,
the cure of rose bushes and long thorns
used for whipping, cold water, then hot

think of the physics, suction, vacuum,
gravity         blood flow
spills necessarily climb up the headboard

small bodies are drawn
to large bodies of water      
        thirsty around midnight you open his
cupboards while he's sleeping, the spigot stuck

the cupboards of his lungs
a wheeze of old lacquer and small slow beetles
something knocking irregularly
                       against the back wall

at 2am you take out his organs,
try to clean them with paper towels
          they curl and sigh in your  palms

the different shapes that glass can take:
shards,      shots,       windows,       globes,       cups,      pints,
bottles,  the different shapes this argument can take

the old accident, the spine knocked along the concrete
motorcycle treads along his scalp  

weaving feelers in the air, saturated  
    shoes on the wrong feet or in the wrong century

lips like a sloppy fist but still you
push      less resistance to your fists

I'm not in this week,
    he says as he looks at himself
in the mirror of your face, leave a message

you can smell him from the next room

the lights multiply and shout     you enter his skin
            through the cracks in his armpits
    the color of bronze paint, dirty dishwater, hotel room carpets

drowned ship
        full of old pocket knives, costume jewelry,  
full of diet coke and whiskey,   sour

Friday, April 11, 2008

Landscape at Night with Bed and Fire

Hair caught on my tongue, I sing into
your ear, my lips so quiet, so close,

they are signing with my breath the language
under kneecaps, under ribs, under fingernails.

The room shudders, a bedful of red snakes;
the room stills, a bedful of drowned plates.

Low murmurs from our palms, as if we
had throats in our wrists, and you drift towards

the ceiling, splayed, smoky, while the curtains
flutter and blacken, break into iridescent

loose sparks, spill out our window onto the dead
in lines out on the lawn, waiting to enter.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Evidence of The Divine

the way a woman's hair feels
when it hangs over the seat
in front of you on the bus

the way the leaves taste
when you lean over the fence
of your neighbor's garden
and steal from the mint bush

the first time you see a girl's
naked calves on the subway
this spring

the way you can
tell your lover's dancing
in the other room when the door's closed,
the way the light shifts in patches: dark then bright

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Obscenity: a User’s Manual

    A blue gap-toothed comb.

My patent
    leather heels, dark and vicious as mirrors.

Cabbage roses, faded, stretched.
    The hem unraveling.

        I attach
            the leather cuffs reeking  of
    saddles and silverware to my bed posts.

After dark, the women with hands
        tucked into short fur coats
clack up and down the street.  They
    carry the reflected light of neon
in their hair.  It is your job, he says, to envy them.

    In the store, the women’s faces
        behind the counter.   Very pale,
        attempting to smile.  Often they
are busy in one corner
            holding an instrument
    and explaining its use to a customer.

There might be a key somewhere.  If
    there is, I swallow it.

Stuttering, whispering.  A small start when
    the bell on the shop door tinkles.

        I stuff
    the contraption in the bottom
            of my closet.  It has a stinging
                        smell, like a lemon
    rind held too close to your nose.

A spot on the center
    of the chair cushion.

A tug on my earlobe with his teeth.

A row of recently cleaned slippers
        by the bed.

The way he wants me to
    talk while we’re at it,
    to tell him things that happen on fishing ships
when the men have been
        at sea a long time.

The fishscales,  I say,
        get caught in their beards.

        A cup of old coffee,
    reheated, red letters on the rim.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things that Give a Queasy Feeling


    ants on the shoulders of coats

men walking closely behind me

    the wet spot

        tangled hair on strangers

cherubim on postcards

    women laughing as I enter the room

        the smell of
            public bathrooms

videos of white children at parties

    waking up with a dry mouth

        bumping into pregnant women

climbing four flights of stairs in a narrow stairwell

        algae stuck between my toes when swimming in a lake

    frozen strawberry drinks

    the taste of vodka on someone else’s tongue

accidentally squashing a roach as I slip on my shoe

    the smell of the monkey house at the zoo

            the color yellow

a sink full of wet silverware

    a pile of old mattresses on the curb

                day old sushi

the crash of one car hitting another

    too many antihistamines

        the sound of
        a bottle breaking outside my window

sucking someone's fingers and getting a distinct and salty taste

        the sound of my cat retching

    a nurse
        missing my vein twice

a CD stuck on the same three notes, over and over again

an old woman smiling with gummy teeth

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How to be Hit

forget there's another person in the room,
forget there's a room

turn into a naked animal
in the desert outside Jerusalem,
outside Las Vegas, in the flower
bed outside your mother's house

feel your skin burn as if
you lie under boiling water
in an old pink bathtub

forget how to open your eyes,
how to use your tongue, hear
someone breathing louder, louder

hear your mother yelling
somewhere downstairs,
calling you for pancakes
though she's been dead for a decade

be five years old, curled in the dirt
under your favorite swimming pool,
be ten years old, beaned in the face
with a fastball and knocked to the grass,

stare at the sun without your glasses
and don't blink, even as the pain
reaches through your retina to your brain stem,
even as the sky goes black

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Color Theory for Beginners

let us start with the shade of Beth,
which some might call
blue, some ochre

she has shins that shine
even in daylight,
even in the yellow grass
as she shuffles the ball
to the other girls during field hockey,
even as she shouts and shows
her crooked teeth, her dark small
tongue that darts a little strangely
to the corner of her lips
when she thinks no one's peeking

she has short hair that ruffles
against the palms of teammates,
of impulsive teachers,
that blends into the sky when she leaps,
that is almost pink,
almost blonde

and no one can tell
the color of her eyes
as she squints against the sun
and shades her face with her hand,
her face deep pink, fierce,
full of some kind of light
(both particular and waving)
bent then bent again, refracted,
until it forms an incandescent,
truant hue

I apologize to everyone who's been patiently waiting for another post, or a reply to his/her lovely comment, but I have been backlogged/overwhelmed/sunk/busy/etc.

I'll try to be better. Please don't leave me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Monsoon Season

the way the night air
suddenly turns thick like milk
spoiling, rain everywhere
at once, hot wind in the dark,
water washing warm through
the palm fronds, water creeping
in under the front door,
all the towels soaked, knotted
into fists, pushed against the windows

upstairs, something falls over,
we can't hear our own dialogue
but someone may be singing outside,
we don't know where the dogs went,
one cat crouches next to the stove,
lifting her paws, disgusted by the wet,
your hand on my shoulder,
damp through the cloth,
your mouth near my ear

no one can hear us,
our shoes overflowing with mud,
with roots, the window
in the hall flings open
with a roar

I can't find the edge of your skin
or this wall, but I feel
your lashes against my palm,
wet as grass, close as a wave
knocking me over, taking my breath

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Take Urines

Melissa says you have to stand outside the bathroom stall with the door open, sometimes you have to hold the door open, pressing high up on the chipped pink metal, because they often swing closed on their own. Some of the stalls have strips of torn fabric or pieces of clothesline to fasten around the corner of the door and keep it open. Then you try not to look at their faces and just watch what they're doing with their hands, make sure they're not pouring in anything from their pockets or underwear. Usually you don't have to talk. Sometimes they'll say something, but you don't have to respond.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm doing some poetry readings shortly that you might be interested in. I just got written up in Time Out NY for the Poetry Brothel:

But I'm not going to do that character again -- this time I'm going to be a bad secretary, not a dead hooker.

Hope you can make one or the other. I need to put you on the guest list if you want to go to the reading on the 18th in Williamsburg, so email me and I'll give you the address and send the curator of the series a note.

March 13th
The Poetry Brothel will be performing once again at the Jonathan Shorr Gallery (109 Crosby St. @ Prince) on Thursday, March 13th from 6pm to Midnight. Come hear Dottie Lasky, who's coming in from Philly, read with her troop of dancing harlots performing alongside, and, of course, enjoy all our poetic temptresses in private readings as per usual. Don't forget the blackjack, tarot readings (by our Poet Prophet Robert Cunningham), The Baby Soda Jazz Band will be performing, and Anthony Zito will be doing live painting. Also, keep an eye out for Edgar Allan Poe; word on the street is he may be paying us a visit this month.

March 18th
writers salon march 18th 7:30 pm
three fabulous poets for a night of fun and frolick
four bucks donation
7:30 pls try to be on time will start at eight promptly!

and theres an open mike with a three min limit pls bring something to read....thats part of the fun

Here's something about the readers:

CHRISTINE HAMM is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Drew University, where she was awarded a Caspersen Scholarship for Academic Promise. In 2007, she was a runner up to Queens' Poet Laureate. Her poetry has been published in The Adirondack Review, Pebble Lake Review, Horseless Press, Lodestar Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry Midwest, MiPoesias, Rattle, Snow Monkey and Exquisite Corpse, among others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and once for "The Best of the Web". Her book of poems, The Transparent Dinner, was published by Mayapple Press in October '06. Christine is on the editorial board of several literary journals, including Vernacular. She teaches English at Rutgers University and poetry writing at Women's Studio Center in Queens, NY. She has three chapbooks, Children Having Trouble with Meat, published by MiPoesias, The Animal Husband, published by Dancing Girl Press, and The Salt Daughter, by Little Poem Press.

Mary Donnelly was born in San Pedro, CA and received an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Crowd, The Hat, Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review, and The Iowa Review. She is Poetry Editor for the online journal failbetter and Co-director of the "Reading Between A and B" series. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches through Gotham Writers' Workshop.

Marty McConnell
Marty McConnell transplanted herself from Chicago to New York City in 1999 to pursue her MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College . In addition to completing three national tours with the Morrigan, an all-female performance poetry troupe she co-founded, she competed in the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 National Poetry Slams with team NYC/louderARTS and appeared on the second and fifth seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

Also, a gratuitous glam photo:

courtesy of Matthew David Powell

Saturday, March 08, 2008

the 6th time

you burned yourself on my lips
flaming coffee pots at 8am
elevator music outside the hospital
bits of toilet paper trapped in trees

it starts to rain
no one curses, lifts an umbrella
flaps a newspaper over his head

the stop lights continue
red light, green
bus left running with the keys in the ignition

garbage pails overflow
with plastic bags, half-eaten
tacos, dirty coats
the sound of something rippling,
snapping, the sound of wind

the sidewalk speckles then darkens
no one sidesteps puddles
no one watches the rain shattering
the clouds on the street
rings within rings
water breaking, regrouping

Christmas presents left out on the curb
in case someone wants them
before the water soaks through

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Her Sister Started It

Billy always had the drugs
in his glove compartment

this might be the part where
they all drove to the lake after
their parents were asleep

in the car, she talked about fishing with her father
when she was five, about catching something
bright yellow and blue that he made her throw back

the twins were fighting again that day -- nothing
they said, but the looks they gave each other

without warning there was sand everywhere
her scalp, armpits, teeth and the sky was getting lighter

she remembered a bonfire out by the water and marshmallows?
or perhaps they were cooking mushrooms on a stick

a bitter taste, her tongue very very hot and then whiskey
almost sweet as if mixed with a syrup or cola

she wasn't sure who was driving on the way
home or who had his hand in her pants

she wished her sister were there, she
had more experience with situations like these

afterwards, there were bruises on her legs
she told her mother she fell off her horse

a pile of dead seagulls next to the fire,
was that the smell, the taste?
at first she wasn't sure she was awake

her cheeks were red and burned, she had kissed
someone with a beard or rubbed her face in the sand

she never remembered what happened to her ring

maybe her sister had been in the backseat,
but they never talked about it

she had pulled someone's hair and it felt good
she thinks his name was Scott, his tongue
nice, warm on her lips but like a mechanical thumb in her ear

it felt like a wrist at first, a thin hot wrist
without bones

it was so hard to tell underwater and it was so cold

her sister by the fire, flipping her black hair
over one ear and talking to the boy with the bad
sun burn

her shoulders hurt most of all the next day,
little blisters rose like domino dots

while she grabbed the orange juice her mother
came up behind her and smelled her hair,
made a disgusted noise

at one point, there was a blanket and then
there was no blanket and everyone could
see, she tried not to care

the next day she still shivered every time
she thought of his fingers

she wished her sister hadn't taken her hat

someone's window was broken
someone was saying "don't be such a baby"

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Death Card

while I was waiting for you
I let a stranger in,
he rang the buzzer at the same
time I expected you, but he was

shorter, squatter, and he
wore a blue uniform with a baseball cap --
I couldn't get a good look at his eyes,
he took all my trash away

though I begged him not to,
clung to his elbow with
all my weight, promised
obscenities into the side
of his throat, wept torch
songs into his ears

he didn't speak except
to be courteous,
called me "ma'am",
said "thank you"
but not "please"
and when he was done

my kitchen had regained its shape
there were shelves and faucets and chairs,
cups and measuring spoons and glasses
with daisies painted at the rims

the stinking bags
of rubbish that had piled above
my head, had blocked the window
and soiled the blue lace curtains

vanished like a magician's half-dollar
all wet and brown stains scrubbed away
the scent of rotten cabbage and spoiled
meat replaced with faint chemical pine

the room was so uncomplicated
so full of white clear space
I was clean, empty, desolate,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Whore Store

the latex nurse's dress
buttoned all the way
hangs above the cash register,
whips in the breeze
from the open door

red plastic platforms
line the walls, one on top of the other,
goldfish stapled to the toe,
or a clear plastic heel, or sparkles
like Dorthy's on the next and the next
to last and the last, steel spikes

mounting the instep
of the heels in the glass case,
black collars in the case
with silver rings, with red rings,
and whips with large dark tassels,
with pink rubber flowers

in the middle of the floor, tropical-
colored spandex falls from hangers,
dresses held together with gold rings
at the belly-button, at the hip,
at the crotch, red shimmy skirts
with slits up the sides, up the front

purple long-sleeved shirts
with the back cut out
in the shape of a key hole, in the shape
of a goldfish bowl, in the shape of
a not-quite-heart, like a heart
sewn poorly, crooked,
like two fists tight together


Yes, I used the word heart non-ironically in a poem. Sue me! Do it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I wrote this quickly, while waiting to have a biopsy in a Doctor's office. I wrote in an absolutely gorgeous handmade book, that was polished and bound just for me. It is shiny black leather, with my name and the image of phoenix stamped onto it. The man who gave it to me spent a long time making it, and afterwards, I hurt him quite badly.

I'm hard to live with sometimes.

You and Your Animal Teeth

You think I am so
fascinated by what
you are saying, but
I am just watching
your animal teeth,
the ragged, raw row,
stained and cracked,
your lips a reddish loveseat
not quite covering
the cannibal skeleton underneath.

I found a great new blog, via Ms. Radish, Eel Slipper. It is not related to all my cousins in California, who have the last name of Eels. Also, it has nothing to do with the above poem.

Monday, February 18, 2008

reading too many books about teaching poetry

A Few Basic Guidelines for Writing Poetry

if there isn't at least one purple flower in your poem, the reader will get nauseous

if you write your poetry in the bathtub, you might end up with better metaphors

if you haven't rewritten your poem at least 12 times, it's a pile of shit

if a poem doesn't mention the word "cock", it will never get published

if your poetry doesn't have end-rhymes, you're deficient in your education

if a poem isn't about you, it's not important

if you don't recite your poetry wearing something sparkly and/or low-cut, don't bother

if your poetry is about a self-evident truth, you must have been born before 1920

if your poem has bigger breasts than you, hide it in a shoe box in the supply closet at work

if your poetry has too many commas, or if it makes liberal use of exclamation points, you might be dead

if your poem ends up in the shape of a Christmas tree, you must be missing your mother

if you poetry mentions turkey or sliced ham, you should try eating a bigger lunch

if your poem mentions Barbie dolls or their feet, you might need professional help

if your poetry doesn't end with the word "red" or an image of the robot apocalypse, it's unreadable

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My computer died an unexpected and sudden death, so the updates will be few and far between for a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Dances of Vice festival was a two-day affair of neo-victorian excess and all its twisted incarnations. Rasputina was the final act on the final night, and although I was too far away to get good shots of the band, I got some fairly hysterical pics of the audience.

--this one's my favorite

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ode to Mr. Swinger, the Non-Lingerer

feet like the Pieta
run through a word chipper

slightly larger than I can
fit my lips around,
skinny assed

is in favor of guns,
but not me owning one

hair tinged red in the candle-light,
under the flashlight,
comes out in fistfuls under the covers

blind-folded and bound,
mouth a large goldfish
in a muddy tank

hard to pull apart
hard to whip, slippery

an electrical hazard,
teeth chipped on the bones
of my shoulder

skin marked pink with scratches,
like someone was falling down a wall,

sometimes sings songs about dirt
and making me bleed

winter green breath
with notes of gardenias and pot

will grab my tits in front
of the hospital and laugh

won’t sleep next to me
because of what I might do
to his wallet

tongue that unfurls
like the red
flag of pleasuretown (trademarked in Thailand)

spring-loaded cock,
chin like an old witch’s,
moles like marks of sin (or too much sun)

secretly hates
me, secretly loves my
hair, and maybe, the way I smile
with my eyes closed

Monday, February 04, 2008

Women: A Collection of Days

Tuesday, 11:30am: The woman with yellowish hair the texture of dog fur pushes the wand inside me from side to side. She whispers “wow”and pauses for a moment. Do you see that? she says, pointing to the glinting dark screen in front of her.

Thursday, 7:15pm: The woman having pasta is telling me about plastic surgery, how it doesn’t really hurt, how they could remove the scars along my chin with just a chemical peel. It’s an outpatient procedure, she says to me.

Friday, 1:35pm: The woman sitting with her legs folded across from me asks me why I can’t wait for sex, why I have to have it right now. I notice the plant behind her desk is beginning to lose color along the lips of the leaves.

Saturday, 11pm: The woman on my cell phone says no one will ever love her because she’s too fat. It’s starting to rain as I reach my front door and I can see my breath. The woman says, you know? and I nod, forgetting she can’t see me.

Sunday, 10am: The woman inside the escalator tells me to have a nice day. She repeats this a few times. Gatorade sloshes inside my throat, but won’t go down.
She ended up being much less of a zombie -- I fixed it a little in photoshop, so we have the polka-dot and the non-dot versions.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I just got back from AWP!! It was so great -- I just wish I had had more time to meet with everyone and shmooze before my obligatory sitting by my press's table and pimping my book and after that everyone seemed to be leaving and the fair was just about over. I should have gone on Friday, but I was just too busy grading and painting and writing. I had a fantabulous dress (see below) -- the only problem was that it kept unzipping itself, in a very secret and quiet way. It was so great to talk to all the editors that have rejected me from all their journals! Thrilling! and I felt just a little mean when I told them that I actually HAD submitted, thank you very much, and had been smacked down. But they were all very nice and sold and/or gave me books at a substantial discount or free! Coffee House rules! And Manic D! They are both my best new friends for life. I got a new Brenda Coultas and Jeffery Daniels. Overall, about 25 books and journals and I think I threw my back out carrying them. I found so many places I want to submit to. And so many nice people. Who knew writers could be nice? It seems really strange and counter-intuitive, doesn't it?

Me on the outside:

Me on the inside (zombie cowgirl):

And I found a special journal just for NJ poets -- so I'm going to be forcing my students to submit to them. I mean, submit their work. Ahem.
Come Into My Red Bungalow

Your umbrella is broken, your mouth permeable,
the hair on your forearm rises in rebellion;
you glide by on your bicycle,
a plastic bag strapped to your head.

You might be jealous of my black quarter horse,
you might want to hide his bridle, but if
you go next door, they’re selling panties
with purple hearts and purple “x”s for only 99 cents

and sex is the only real distraction from
the weather. I want to take you to my secret room
where the VCR is stuck on midnight, red midnight;
I want to landscape the highway for you:
gray grass that gives like goose down,
silver, dog-sized rhodendrons who illuminate
our naked feet, our busy wrists, the knots we tie

with our hair and tongues. I have done
things under the table in your name,
or while whispering your name, but no one
will tell me which hospital you’re in and I

I have a small gift to hand you, pocket-sized, heavily
engraved, found in the gutter next to my truck
last Wednesday. The silver god around my neck

grows in my dreams until he reaches my chin;
in the rain, in my small backyard where he is tied,
my black horse shivers.

I have an absolutely fabulous floor-length vintage silk gown I'm wearing to AwP. I'll post a picture. It makes me feel like one of those heavy-eyed Bond women from the Sean Connery Bond era.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I wrote this in a workshop at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and my classmates seemed to like it, but I'm uncertain. It's very different from my usual style.

Elegy Ending in the Seat of Toy Car

Your mother calls me last,
blaming me, blaming the way I
said nothing during our potato
dinners at their tiny house
of black knick-knacks, and I
say nothing again on the phone,
hang up with nothing in my throat,
nothing in the room.

You used to make songs out of nothing,
your hands next to your mouth,
spinning against walls in bars,
shouting with the music,
your hair a shock of green neon,
your pierced ear glittering
with a line of skulls.

You used to store ninjas on our headboard,
Godzillas in the refrigerator,
tiny motorcycles in the knife drawer.

You used to buy me pink:
bracelets and plastic rings, skirts
and cheap bandanas because you knew
I hated it and then you used to
have a reason to laugh.

That Christmas I gave you a remote control
Porsche the size of a shoe, it spun out
again and again against the bedroom wall
and in the kitchen you stamped on it
(or was that me).

I found the seat last week,
under the pile of books we were always
going to illustrate together, as small as
a bent thumb, blue plastic, empty
but with little marks where you had been.

I added some pictures from the festival in my photo album on myspace. Check it out! Sharon Olds!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I'll be at the Mayapple Press table in the AWP fair on Saturday from 2-3:30. I'll be reading at random intervals and possibly trying to juggle. Please stop and say hello! Hello Christine! And we will have fun chatting together about books and publishing and sundry and whatnot.

Table 419.

And let me know if you'll be at a booth and I will definitely stop by!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

this was inspired by Kim's lecture on syntax


so cold outside the Appleby's
and you are laughing again,
the hood of your sweatshirt
pulled up like a yellow cowl,
your new bangs shimmering in your eyelashes,
so warm your breath of vodka and sausage,
so hot and soft your tongue
on the corner of my jaw,
as hot as new cake on a plate,
the pink frosting
melting slick as molten glass
and running down the sides
I am writing from Palm Beach Florida. I am the Palm Beach Poetry Festival! I'm taking a class with Kim Addonizio. Kim Addonizio! I jumped around and screamed when I heard I got accepted, and then I was so intimidated that I couldn't even look at her the first day of class, but now she just seems like a regular human, not an immortal. I actually spoke to her and stood not two feet away! She is extremely nice and not at all arrogant. Plus has pretty tattoos.

The class has been going great. I'm learning alot about rhythm and syntax, things which, as you might have noticed, are not really emphasized in my work. So I think the class will be very useful.

People in Florida are very friendly and no one walks. So when I walk around the neighborhood and take pictures (which I like to do to get a sense of a place when I'm visiting somewhere new) everyone want to talk to me, and/or give me rides to where I'm going. Also, I walked into a shop and asked if there was anywhere nearby with a public bathroom, and they let me use the employee one! I feel like I'm a different planet from NYC. Also, lush green humid tropical and bizarre birds and lizards. Water and sand seeping everywhere. It's fantastic! It's like I'm in an Elizabeth Bishop poem.

All my classmates are nice and knowledgeable, but I get the sense that I'm a little more published than most of them. I already have the reputation of being the group's Sylvia Plath! I wonder how that happened.

I've been coming up with a lot of drafts, but nothing that feels remotely finished yet.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Things She Asked on Our First Date

She asked me if I had any social diseases, since she was writing a poem about STD's. She asked me if I ever hit a girl and if so, did she press charges. She asked me where I hit her. She asked me to show her on my own body. She asked me if my mother had a job, and what kind of job was technical producer, anyway. She asked me the names of my brothers and sisters. She asked me what I planned to name my firstborn. She asked me why I didn't quit my job. She asked me if I couldn't see things from my boss's point of view. She asked me if I was happy with such a small apartment. She asked me if my cat always acted this way. She asked me if the bed always squeaked like that, like a chicken with its foot caught in a tin can. She asked me if I was crying or laughing. She asked me if she fell asleep and then woke up again, would I still be stroking her hair.
Not All Poets Are Bad People

But most are. Come see the evidence.

I'll be reading with my class at this event at The Poetry Project Friday night:

Fall Workshop Reading
Friday, 10:00 pm

Students from Patricia Spears Jones', Todd Colby's and Rachel Levitsky's fall poetry workshops will share their work.

I was in Todd's class. I had some very talented classmates, and they didn't hate my work too much.

The 6 to Astor Place is probably the quickest way to get to the poetry project.
It's on East 10th Between 3rd Ave and 2nd (closest to 2nd). It's in the back of the big old white church.

The Poetry Project
at St. Marks Church
131 E. 10th St.
New York NY 10003

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For Micheal

you are out on a day pass
from the hospital, the green
plastic band still around your wrist
I take you to an island to show you
how to break into abandoned buildings

we climb through the river,
around the bundles of razor wire
the medication makes you slow, makes
your tongue dart left and left

I make you take your shirt off
so I can photograph you against
the ruined rooms, the windows
warped as a broken mouth
later you show me a red hole
in your beautiful yellow hair
where the razor wire had cut to the bone
I read yesterday (Sunday) at the Poetry in Baltimore series. It was great! Lovely crowd -- it really made up for the hostile reception I got at the last reading. I sold three books! Amaaaazing!

Here's some photos taken during the reading (it was in a really pretty gallery) by the amazing Brenda Dargan.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

1:30 AM The Subway

I am sandwiched between a man and a woman who are making out. They speak a language to each other that I don’t recognize -- Isreali or Russian. They are young and their faces are perfect: shining, white, hairless. Their eyes match: they are the same light brown, the same sleepy, smiling shape. The woman’s long yellow curls brush my lap as she leans over me. The man pulls the hair back away from from her neck and whispers something. Her ear is inches from my lips. It is so clean and empty, but still it glows with soft grey light. I think she can feel my breath. As I hear their kisses -- wet snaps, the clink of teeth meeting, breath catching and letting go loudly, slowly -- I know, finally, that we are over.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

the secret room

bare, low-ceilinged
scents of old hounds and tired cedar
it holds only two people at a time

we lie on the wide, warped floor boards
tracing their map-like stains, their protruding, heavy-
headed nails, round as tiny mushrooms

we hold hands and compare freckles,
how they change with the shadows and time,
we taste each other’s palms to see we are true,
we count the rising hairs on the backs of our necks,
lifting up our loose shirt collars as if they were spider webs

and when we like, and when we have the strength,
we lift each other up, one after the other,
making a step of our fingers knotted together,
so we can peek out the one window
and see the only light of this world
as it plays across the long grass of the yellow hills,
across the tree who burns but does not give way

Monday, January 07, 2008

Safe Word

He was telling her about his toys. He listed things made out of metal and animal hide, things that used electricity and sparked occasionally, things that clicked and linked together. She said she was frightened and he said he would go slow, so slow that she would forget to stop him once it hurt. She said it was already hurting and she wanted him to stop. He said he stopped yesterday, that she forgot she was on a boat talking to him on the phone, and that he was still in New Jersey. She said that if he was in New Jersey, why was she still wearing a blindfold. He told her she couldn’t see because it was night, and that it was okay to go to sleep now, just close her eyes and let go.

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Collage

With actual stitches. No birds were hurt in the making of this art.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hello, poor neglected blogreaders. I will have some poems for you soon.
In the meantime, I would like to introduce you to one of my very talented and lovely students, Larry Lawrence. He is new to the blogosphere, so I hope you mosey over and welcome him.