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."

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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Insomnia


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.

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

I'M ON A PANEL

the ART of CAPTIVITY part two
On view through December 3



ARTISTS' PANEL & DISCUSSION
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

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

AUTHORS
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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hotel #8


Pink, the smell of old men's hair.
Something hidden ticks in our bath-

room; the green drapes wither
like petals and light creeps in.

Ice coats the flags, the lost mittens
in the gutters. Sometimes you let me

take your cock in my mouth, but you
won't teach me the words I need to

buy a cup of tea. Your joints stick
with the cold, so the restaurant is too

far to walk .You wait for the bus
in the lobby and write postcards

to people I don't know. The red-hatted
man ahead of us in line winks, makes

his hand into a pistol and shoots us.
That night, I try to hold your hand

from my twin bed while the radiator
bangs like a hungry prisoner,
tin cup against iron bars, back and forth.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tourist Visa, II

we can’t pronounce the names of the ruins/ you slip on the steep stones/ I lose a flip flop in the mud/ our t-shirts stick to our bellies/ the hotel bench swells and oozes/ you lose money in your hand/ rain at 4/I can't count in this language/ so many cameras in these ruins/ in the shade of the rock you swim and I watch for jellyfish/ fire ants in our sheets/the sockets spark and fail to connect/ we can't pronounce "money"/ the ruins we try not to see in the shade/ hours chase us through the streets/ rain at 4/honeysuckle swells/ our t-shirts ooze/ the buses chase the ruins/ a damp white smell/ the street names float past us/ the cameras around our t-shirts sweat/I lose/I lose/ the shopkeeper of the ruins standing inside the names of the ruins/the sun a honey-suckle swell/ the buses/the mud/tiendas/ tiendas/ jellyfish in your hand/we can't pronounce "Pepsis"/ in our hands/ a damp white smell

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I'm at Everyday Genius today!

http://www.everyday-genius.com/2010/09/christine-hamm.html

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Rival

My mother got a flying baby. She already had four cats and two dogs. When I came in on Saturday, the baby was tied to a banister, flying up around the ceiling. Mom, you need to keep that ceiling fan off, I said. The baby smelled funny, its diaper was sagging and its skin looked loose. It had orange and yellow hair all over its hands. A baby is a lot of responsibility, Mom, I said. I snapped my fingers at the baby, trying to get it to fly down to me. The baby didn't even look, just kept fluttering its sticky wings and bumping into the walls. It doesn't look right, I said to Mom. I feed it every day, she said, and spray it with water, they said that babies need a lot of water. I asked my mom, Where's its bottle? She said, Somewhere, somewhere. She dug into the pile of soaking dirty dishes in the sink. She was wearing her t-shirt with the embroidered reindeer on motorcycles. Why are you wearing that? I said, it's not even Halloween yet. She fed one of her toy poodles something from the sink. Have you thought of a name yet? she said, I asked you for a name. I heard the baby bump into something in the hall, its wings whirring like a blender. The baby started to make a sound -- something between a toy fire engine and a bark. I think the baby's crying, I said. Oh, he will stop on his own, my mother said, he always does.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crush


Smashed ice in a waxed paper cup.
One translucent pea hen flowing after
another, or an orange shadow

shifting on the baseboard. Orange
my safeword. Orange I said
Orange when we swam. My breath's

unreliable that way. Why is it
orange?
he said. I wanted to try
something new. Do you like it?
I said.

Curtains drawn, the day humming
outside like a fire engine on pause.
Orange ya glad to see me? The pea hens

trying to talk. Working on some kind
of clotted harp in their throats. Orange
I said Orange. I buy him a pile of them.

They disappear by the next morning,
leaving a smear on the chair. It's not
something I would normally


say, I tell him. That's why.
Corn syrup, then food coloring, two kinds.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

from The Handmade Castle

Section 1. (instead of breaking their hands, one after the other, while someone tries to reach for the phone)

Tonight you make up a father, an ordinary, sad one, smarter than anyone realizes, who reads the history of the Quarter Horse over and over again, making pencil marks in the margins, who drives his 80's Toyota slower now, since his left eye got so bad; tonight it is this father who calls you, this father whose smoke-stained voice you hear by the window as pink light leaks from the satellite dishes cupped like ears towards the grimy sky, this father who sounds distracted, who pauses until you say hello again and this father who coughs twice as he tells you about the plane crashing, about the girl he can't remove from the wall.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saints & Cannibals is back on sale! Sorry for the SNAFU

First Draft

How to Make a Person-Bomb
after Gloria Fuertes


Start in the backseat.
Add shoes with laces that trail.
And a broken knuckle.
A ring that keeps sliding off,
bracelets that catch on the furniture.
A stick of butter.
A stick of butter.
A cup of hot, black pepper.

Put it in the crosswalk.
Put it in the doorway
of the boarded up hotel.
Send it swinging in an empty schoolyard.
Give it a book with no pages, give
it a chair with a broken leg.
Show it how to teach a dog
to heel, then give it a talking dog
who says nothing but bark, bark.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Are You Going to Eat This?
after Lynn Emmanuel

Start with a dog. This dog. This dog wanting out

of this dream. Then I see my eyes, blinded by windows, a bobby

with a talking gun, more butter and more, smearing the box,

the bureau.

Stuffing her mouth, a servant, still. We tell the dream. We tell

the maids and waitresses, we don their black aprons.

I want to ask the stove, the glaring succotash, the hated

cot. Light, even

light is a dreary guest. I see that first.

_________________

This draft was written as part of my first assignment for my first packet at NEC -- an imitation poem. This poem is an imitation of Lynn Emmanuel's "Dream in Which I Meet Myself". The title and last sentence of the poem are taken directly from Lynn's piece.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fantastic review of Saints & Cannibals today on The Feminist Review. She compares me to Lorde and Forche -- me! This is going to make my month.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Silver

The sandals I stole from Kmart.
The lighter you used on the ivy,

the dumpster. The padlock on the
refrigerator after Sara's fight with

Mom. The polish Sara dabbed
on her nails, and Mom's seashells

in the top shelf basket. The pit bull's
collar as he dove against his chain, little

grunts, trying to get at us, our arms full
of oranges. Your hair, after she sprayed

it with sparkles for the fourth of July party.
The life guard's capped tooth as he lifted

you from the pool. The rings clotting your
fingers as they tapped and tapped. The sun

after you dared me to stare for a full minute,
the shining hole left in everything after.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Like a Fat Gold Watch

ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE JULY 15TH!!

submit to ceehamm@gmail.com

Like a Fat Gold Watch: I am collecting an anthology of poems and more that celebrate Sylvia Plath’s life and work, but do not fetishize her suicide and death. Please submit your poems about Sylvia Plath for an anthology to come out in Fall of 2011. All poems must be either a response to her work, or her life, with one caveat — they cannot be about death or suicide. Work will be looked at more favorably if it responds to, for example, The Bee Poems, rather than “Daddy” or “Lady Lazarus”. The book will be published through Fat Gold Watch Press. Authors will get reduced price copies.

Please send three to five poems as either an rtf or doc attachment. I cannot accept docx. For the subject heading, please write, Sylvia poems, your name. For the cover letter, please include a short bio — 150 words or less, and describe how your poems are a response to her work or life. If there’s a particular poem you are responding to, please tell me its name. Submissions are due July 15, 2010, and you should hear back by September 15. I am also considering essays, shorter than ten pages (double spaced), and black and white artwork.

The anthology will not be published if there is an insufficient amount of submissions.

Send submissions to: ceehamm@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ramona the Fallen


Crooked, rectangular eyes.
The stench of the horses

we knit ourselves to. Her ears
clotted with gold/diamond circles

she tugged until her scabs opened
their mouths. Hurling down her

shining silver pony, she broke
the fence with her collar-bone --

the poles banging together
with a sound like wooden bells.

Faint stars where she went into
herself with an exacto knife, a stapler:
I break everything to make it fit.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tuesday, Chico


The hotel swimming pool,
full of floppy children and
chemical stink. The fly
dying on my nightstand.
A quarter and magic fingers
for two minutes. Orange
diamond, black diamond,
orange -- the bedspread reeks
of bleach and violets. I need
to understand some things,

you said, some things involving
her.
This time, I left.

July is listless and self-conscious;
I'm avoiding the beach,
my bathing suit has an
embarrassing hole. The ceiling
fan weeps rust every so often,
and I wonder what happened
to our bug-eyed goldfish, the red
potato, pierced with toothpicks
and string, that was sprouting
in a glass by the kitchen window.

I'm studying the way people use
space,
you said when we first
met, at the party in the house
without electricity. I fell down
the back stairs and you watched
me, then offered me a hand
when you saw I was done.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm trying out some new images for the cover of my next book, "Echo Park". Here's a close up and then the big picture. I'm trying for a wallpaper motif.

Big:

The Big Picture:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lines Excised from the 5th Poem About Your Death

Then you said, I'm not really your mother. How, when you took off your shirt, I saw your black-winged bra cupping your freckled breasts. The Wednesday when you told me you couldn't answer my call last night because you had someone's cock in your mouth. The script you wrote for me for valium, so you could get some yourself. The part where you kept your fingers under your eyes to stop the mascara from running. How your hair got in my mouth on the ferris wheel. How you were supposed to engaged, but the obituary said single. The part where you were a pole dancer. The part where you fucked the hospital janitor. The pink lampshade with the feather trim. Your son's pencil drawings of rats on your refrigerator. How you cried every time in the same monotone when your boyfriends broke up with you. The matching bitchy cats under your sofa, your sink. The poster of a pastel garden just above your toilet that appeared to be painted by an extremely depressed grandmother. The part where your pregnant patient hung herself. How you counted to three in a voice as sweet as any hypnotist to get your son to put his video games away. How he has your enormous bronze eyes, the eyes of a busy victim. The sickly yellow light above your stove, how it made us all look bloodless, dying. How we looked in that polaroid from the party, curled up on the black velvet sofa, the white of your big teeth matching the backs of my hands. The dislocated, sudden shadows a flash makes. How in all my dreams of you, you are wearing a yellow flowered scarf around your head, although you never wore a scarf. How you swoop slowly down from turbulent clouds as if you are riding a floating dinner plate. What you really said to me. How you made me my first martini, and I was disappointed. The part where you came on to my psychiatrist and he turned you down. How your insides ached afterwards, as if you'd been hit with a shovel in the stomach. How I tried to pretend to sympathize. The drugs we shared on that couch. The kiss we nearly shared on that couch. How you said you were worried about the stereo speakers, Is sound coming out, or going in? Are we being recorded? How I told you to close your eyes and it would soon get better. How you wanted to ride the bumper cars three times in a row. How you hit my car so hard my elbow dislocated. How it didn't, eventually, get better; none of it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dream Dog

Barking bangs from the corners of the garage.
Drool pools in your lap. Face the size of the

horizon, scummed puddle eyes, muzzle and grey
gums. Black hide, burned at the elbows and chin

to pink. Your snot-smeared hands, struggling
with the rope. Paws scrabbling like falling pigeons.

The reek of his tongue; he has been eating something
dead from the trunk. Out-of-tune horns, cellos, from

the front lawn; he whines a pinkish nursery song.
His face is your horizon; eyes the size of scummed

pools, red muzzle and gums, teeth grease-smeared,
like your struggling hands. Drool puddles in your lap.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beaver, Cat, Clam


Think of it as a small
tender beast. With large
deformed paws. With a razor-
wire necklace. Think of it
as your mother once she's
drunk, when she has forgotten
her second language and can
only swear at you in Russian.
Think of it as a cop
on a Segueway, as a cop on a
Segueway in shorts. Think
of it as an attractive sky,
blasting in your face. With
the moon, sun and stars all
jangling at once. Think of it
as the pink and black sow
you bit at the petting zoo
when you were five. Think of it
with hooves, with hands.
Think of it as the mouth
of an old Mamacita after
she's removed her teeth
for the night. With the scent
of her last whiskey-rich coffee.
Think of it as a drowned girl,
long hair covering her face,
by the side of the pool. Think
of it as her lips, her throat
with your breath inside, your
breath, your breath. Think
of her coughing once, waking
up with her hand on the back
of your head.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rewrite of old poem

Birds Clearly Don't Understand Glass


you stood near the winter
swimming pool, like a little
mother, but with fur,

a lightweight skeleton,
hollow bones, the age-old bell
on the collar,

your large palms
spread with shelled peanuts,
sunflower seeds, red millet,
white millet

Friday, April 30, 2010

After the Accident


seatbelts hanging us upside/down
can’t feel my right wrist

still a little stoned on teenaged sex
and the fight about the cupholder

a branch nods through the windowshield,
the car ticking like a wind-up toy slowing/down

shattered safe-tee light in my hair,
I unfasten and fall to the ceiling

crimson and clover/over and over/crimson and
still on the radio

(you crawl as if you had lost something small)

a slow volcano bump begins on my forehead

leaves fluttering down from the tree
we crushed

voices outside

a shouting like children in sprinklers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great series of portraits of the people sitting opposite of Marina Abramovic. Some of the faces recur, some of them weep. Some people can only stand it for a few minutes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fragments II


How she learned to ride the subway by herself.
How she wouldn't tell anyone but him how she lost her thumb.
How he checked the websites for new girls each night when he thought she was sleeping.
How her ankle wouldn't heal.
How she walked as if she almost shook apart with each step.
How the lenses in her glasses were as thick as a finger.
How she celebrated her 18th birthday.
How the cake tasted sweet but grainy, as if sown with colored glass.
How he took her to see the dolphins at Marine World.
How she leaned over and one held her hand in its mouth without breaking the skin.
How he was saving up for a pair of skis.
How he kept his money in the bottom of an old boot under the sink.
How she got the night shift at the 7-11.
How the manager called her a retard to her face.
How he forgot his meds.
How the dog ran away when he was trying to walk it.
How he couldn't make her understand.
How he hid his beers behind the bookcase.
How she started to find things out about him.
How she couldn't sleep next to him anymore.
How the plastic daisies lit up the kitchen.
How he washed all the dishes all at once, the water
so hot his hands were red for a week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Equinox


The street buckles under her feet. Her purse
swings like the sun on fast-forward. The glitter

of dimes in the gutter, on her knees.The German
shepherd charging, restrained. Apologies whispered,

shouted. Restrained twice. Hot breath builds
its own atmosphere on her cheek. A high tin

sound like an angry cook at the sink: clatter,
clatter. Her hands at the sides of her head,

in her butter-colored hair. The sky before her
a jerky, old-timey film, eyelids fluttering up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I started a new art blog. Haven't had time to finish any poems, tho' I started quite a few. AWP was fun, but not a life-changing event.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The First Symptoms


No, I'm the monster, he says. Eyes
behind round tortoiseshell glasses

shift left, then up, redden. But
broccoli, she answers, I like broccoli

on my toast. Her purple lips
exactly match her fingernails.

He asks about their child,
part pony, part cat. The cop

looms over them, tall as a rosebush;
they try to ignore him. Her husband

loosens his tie, its bathing
beauties waving from the shore.

She pets the hem of her black silk
slip and tells it, I love you. The cop

clears his throat. She reapplies her
lipstick and her husband says,

I hit a swan on the way home.
It was crossing the Caulfield's pond.

Allergies? she asks. Everyone smokes
outside, he replies. Out in the parking

lot, next to the violet rosebushes.
The cop lights up and starts to cough.

The swan was my mother, he says
as the smoke enters the lace curtains

touching the window and drifts
into her hair. No, I'm the monster,

she says and kisses the cop's eyelids
as he flutters them obligingly.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I just got into New England College's Low Res MFA program! Who-000-eee!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A poem in two parts:
Mousy Blonde

My cat drags a movie star onto my feet while I'm sleeping. Under the covers, on top of my feet! The movie star is wet and still. My first thought, octopus under my toes, then I wake up shrieking. The cat shrieks in response and plummets into a wall. When I turn on the lights, I can't see the movie star; she's under the covers. So I make that quick ugh, ugh, sound you make when you don't know what something is, but you're sure it's disgusting. I stand by the door and rip back the covers. The movie star lies there curled up, covered in creamy suede and cat snot. Oh Christ! I yell at the cat. What the hell is wrong with you! I see my window's open and slam it shut; that's probably how the movie star got in. I go to the kitchen, cursing at the cat, to get some rubber gloves so I can haul the movie star from my bed. The cat jumps up on the sink and offers me his cheek to kiss -- he thinks if he pretends, we can both get beyond this.

The grey and white cat crouches
on the roof in the snow, watching
me through my kitchen window
as I add pepper to the rigatoni.
I talk to it in a high-pitched
voice -- the voice I use for babies.

Why is the past always lodged
in my teeth? Milk in glass bottles
balancing in unstained aprons.
Red-checked tablecloths hanging
from a clothesline. I had hoped
to escape through the oven,
crawl through to the library
made of chocolate, to the fields
of redeemable coupons.

See that woman? If I open
the window it disappears under
the trees . You'll never know
what I felt for her, the go-carts
filled with exclamations points.

How you love cheddar,
everyone keeps exclaiming.
How large your front teeth are,
and how small your hands.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hey y'all,

I'm thinking of starting a link list of places where you can send your poetry books for review, kind of like here at New Pages, and here. I think I'll probably post it on word press, because you can't start new pages here on blogspot? At least I haven't figured out a way. What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Genesis 1


a barefoot girl leads a speckled pony
into her room, the pony looks over
his shoulder, constipated or sad

she slowly spreads lotion over her knuckles,
trying to get out the blisters, the bite marks,
listening to women breathe on the other side of the wall

she pretends not to notice his scars,
the way his hair catches in his wine glass,
the way his mouth can't close on one side

she offers him her silk hem, and he chews,
his broke jaw working sideways, until her whole
dress dissolves

until she is naked, until the entire dance floor
vanishes, the stars like little forks, pricking and pricking,
until they are alone and married in the snow

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE BOOK HAS ARRIVED!

I'm looking for reviewers -- if you have a journal/website/etc. where you regularly write reviews, please let me know, and I may be able to send you a free copy in exchange for a review.

Here's the whole flyer of info for the book; spread it around!

BUY IT HERE.

Description
A fierce book of poetry based on historical and mythical saints and cannibals, including Saint Claire and Hansel & Gretel.

Reviewers say:

"it's hard to tell at times who are the saints and who are the cannibals... Hamm explores the boundaries of the body in exquisite detail; puberty, cancer, eating disorders, and the lure and horrors of modern medicine escalate into fertility rites, witches, and the heartbreaking loss of childhood. These poems do not dally in Victorian daydreams or ruffled pinafores. They are feral. They shriek and bite and get under your skin."

Rebecca Loudon
Author of "Cadaver Dogs"


Sample Poems


In This Dream, The Sky Signifies Memory


I’m standing in my blue flannel nightgown
at the window. The tops of the California oaks
shimmer below me in the wind. I’m walking barefoot
down the center of a gravel road -- I’m sweating
and my nightgown pinches at the armpits, the neck.


I am getting a baby out of a drawer. The baby
is the color of fog: he is sleeping or dead.
He is too heavy to carry, so I leave him
by the side of the road. I am spitting out persimmon
seeds into the cup beside the TV.


I am climbing a ladder over a hedge made of old
keyboards and kites. I am waking up; I am not
wanting to wake up. Someone is calling my cat.
My cat purrs and spits into my eye. She has
gathered tigers around me. I put on my pointed
leather slippers and climb on to the back
the biggest one. We go searching for my baby.
The sky is the color of water, falling.




Modern Maid


Joan of Arc works at the Gap.
Her armor, nearly invisible under
the florescent light, catches on the sweaters
she folds, so that cashmere threads
follow her everywhere, a crimson cape.
She can't remember how she got here:
most days, can't remember her name when she gets up,
but knows where her keys are,
and what bus to take to work.
God speaks to her sideways,
flickering reflections in the
napkin dispenser at the diner,
upside down when she licks
the ice cream clean from her spoon.
Joan sees pinions behind her when she uses the ATM.
There's angels, sometimes angry and frightening,
often white, and always in her dreams.
They smell like straw and milk...
Joan is sixteen. She's always sixteen.
She's so blond her eyebrows disappear.
She has freckles and is serious,
chews off her lipstick.
She'll heal you if you ask nice,
and go back behind the 501s with her.
Her name means "God is gracious."
Sometimes when she's stacking the perfume
called heaven
she remembers this is true.



About the author:

Christine Hamm is a PhD candidate in English Literature, specializing in 20th century poetics. She won the MiPoesias First Annual Chapbook Competition with her manuscript, Children Having Trouble with Meat. Her poetry has been published in The Adirondack Review, Pebble Lake Review, Lodestar Quarterly, Poetry Midwest, Rattle, and many others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and she teaches English at CUNY. She has performed all over the country, and was one of the featured poets in the Poetic Voices Festival of Hartnell College. The Transparent Dinner, her book of poems, was published by Mayapple Press in 2006. Christine was a runner-up to the Poet Laureate of Queens.

For poetry samples, go to: chamm.blogspot.com

SAINTS & CANNIBALS

82 pgs

Ships in 1-2 weeks

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pathogen I

Skinned rabbit on a pile of tires
next to the filling station.

Bright bugs around our faces,
lit orange by the falling sun.

You reach into the wet gears
of your bike, your knuckles huge,

bruised the color of soft avocados.
What kind of street is this, I ask --

you are caught in the bike chain,
in loosing and refastening its teeth.

Red-faced men in baseball caps
drive their mustard pickup next

to a pump: the bell rings twice.
The blue woman in the florescent

glass booth nods to herself, reading
intently, doesn't look up. You fall

back on your ass, gasping. Above us,
a moth clinging to a bulb opens its brown wings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

My friend Ellis is doing a workshop...

award-winning novelist and Columbia writing professor Ellis Avery presents...

HUDSON STREET WRITERS' DOJO!
West Village, NYC
Monday through Friday, April 1-30, 9-10am
$20/session. Pay for four in advance, and the fifth is free.

Ellis wrote her first novel, THE TEAHOUSE FIRE (Riverhead 2006) in an hour a day over a period of years. For the month of April only, five mornings a week, one hour a day, she will open her home and writing practice to people who want to challenge themselves to write daily in a silent, focused, community environment. We'll use exercises and give each other a little positive feedback to warm up and cool down, but the core of this practice is DOING the work, not showing it or talking about it. Use peer pressure to your advantage: write your morning pages, or write your novel!

Come write for a few days, come once a week, or challenge yourself to write five mornings a week for a month: all are welcome. For location information and to register, please contact ellisavery@gmail.com.


Ellis is also available for one-on-one manuscript consultation, $80/hour.


coming this fall...
COMMIT TO YOURSELF: a creative writing workshop. Details available on ellisavery.com

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Picnic Games

A blue blanket. Clouds, the sick yellow light.
A dark blond curl by an open mouth. A bottle

of beer. A bottle of milk. A bottle of beer, in a row
next to her hip. Panties cut high on the thigh; skirt

lifted over her head with a stick while she drowsed.
Cicadas, low then loud.

Scuffing the mud under the picnic table with our bare
toes. Flies settle; Suzy is stung. We hop and stomp,
tumble the raw hotdogs, the bottles of orange pop.

Two long sighs. Her fingers shuffle at the skirt
over her face, push it away. She knocks over

the milk, struggles to sit up. Another firefly.
Then, another.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Me, reading some stuff. Yes, this is kinda old, but I just figured out how to embed a video.



Call for submissions below.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Call for submissions:

I am collecting an anthology of poems and more that celebrate Sylvia Plath's life and work, but do not fetishize her suicide and death. Please submit your poems about Sylvia Plath for an anthology to come out in Fall of 2011. All poems must be either a response to her work, or her life, with one caveat -- they cannot be about death or suicide. Work will be looked at more favorably if it responds to, for example, The Bee Poems, rather than "Daddy" or "Lady Lazarus". The book will be published through Fat Gold Watch Press. Authors will get reduced price copies.

Please send three to five poems as either an rtf or doc attachment. I cannot accept docx. For the subject heading, please write, Sylvia poems, your name. For the cover letter, please include a short bio -- 150 words or less, and describe how your poems are a response to her work or life. If there's a particular poem you are responding to, please tell me its name. Submissions are due July 15, 2010, and you should hear back by September 15. I am also considering essays, shorter than ten pages (double spaced), and black and white artwork.

The anthology will not be published if there is an insufficient amount of submissions.

Send submissions to: ceehamm@gmail.com.




Fat Gold Watch Press

Monday, March 01, 2010

Why Didn't You Save Me,
You Continue to Ask



July, the month of smoke, the month
of long dry houses, burning.

How to make a bong with a knife
and a salt shaker, a knife and a shoelace,
a knife and a human hand.

You yelled once-- a long, dog-
like sound. Something yellow in my

peripheral vision. A bruise on your jaw,
a new white around the rims of your eyes.

Nyquil and orange juice, wine and five
Sudafed, we were chopping aspirin
into powder: what could we do
to the inside of our noses?

We used lighters covered with hearts
to melt my Breyer animals
into the shape of a boat:

the calves,
the tiny horsemen,
the stiff collies, bending slow

then quick to the flame

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I got the final proof copy of Saints & Cannibals! It looks great -- I am so excited.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Artifice Magazine has a great wishlist that doubles as poetry prompts. Try some of them out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Late Burial

the small sound of an old radio, some music, words I
don't understand, a nostalgic howl with lots of brass
and acoustic guitar

The scene where the car is buried by snow, all the cars
are buried in snow, the road just a faint dent

the phone ringing, going to voice mail, the phone ringing
in someone's jacket pocket, the jacket buried in a pile
of jackets at a party

the rip along your cheek, badly sewn, a scar like a series
of faint pale staples, it was a motorcycle, you say,
or a drunk ex, you don't quite remember

the leather jacket hanging from a hook on a door,
the lining reeks armpit, vanilla perfume, sick cat,
ripped inside the pocket

the wind makes a small sound, rattles snow from beech
branches, the houses across the street suddenly veiled,
the man scraping with a shovel pauses and shakes off his hat

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Since you asked, here's the technique I used for that last poem.

It was actually the combination of two techniques I learned in Kaminsky's class. One was: make a list of 10 random/strange questions, and then, at another time, without looking at the questions, make ten bizarre/strange answers or statements. Then see if you can match the answers and questions up in any way.

The second, pick your favorite lines from your old poems, and save them and use them in your new poems. I took 20 poems from 2001-2004 and picked my favorite line and put them in a 5 page document -- in random order. I added a few questions and statements, but not right next to each other. Then I picked lines that had similar images or tone, and that made about two pages. Then I slimmed it down to one page, and changed the pronouns and tenses so that it seemed more coherent. I added one new line and switched the lines/sections around a lot and voila! new poem.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Why Are You Constantly


it's hard to see the screen with all these ghosts\the sea anemones
make a kissing sound when they let go of your fingers

Pigeon. Seagull. Pigeon. Robin.

arms the color of pickled pigs in a jar
threatening to jump off a window ledge into a tidal pool
your smile constantly erases itself

hair wafts into my eyes, sticks to my lipstick
the wind as your green curtains skim the ceiling

is that a paw or hoof on my face/is that a burlap
sack or boat on my windowsill


so hot you sit on the floor and pant, dog-like
your psychiatrist is afraid and asks me to sit next to him

Seagull. Grackle. Doorknob.

boiling water seeps through an orange pekoe teabag
on the walls, squares of bright yellow where photos of flowers and elephants hung

the hum of flies, shadows or burn marks in your bedroom
the newspaper lining your cage

my thumb smoothing your eyebrows the color of commas
the negative space of your forehead

why are you constantly comparing everything
to animals/
you ask me



----

So I finally followed one of Ilya's suggestions and did a poem. Perhaps I should say "wrote"? Anyway, let me know what you think about the last line -- should I cut out, you asked me?

Also, does the title work?

If you're interested, I'll let you know the technique I used to make this.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HTML giant has a great post on contemporary "moves" in poetry -- which could also be called tics, cliches, or styles. I'm going to try them all out! I'm doing the negative one (not and not and not) right now!

Here's the draft:

Not the Blue One


Not the horse entire, not the gripped
withers. Not the ring of shod hooves down
the driveway. Not the girth loosening, not
the bit hanging to one side. Not the old-man-
colored jodpurs stretched so tight we worried

our whole cunt would leak through, not
the grapefruit-smelling leather boots that numbed
our toes. Not the toothbrush on the harness,
the stirrups. Not twisting the mane in our fist
as we hurl over the second hurdle. Not the dash
of a hoof in the water trap, not the stumbling

to knees in the water. Not the swerving from
traffic cones in the middle of a decaying field,
not the trip/somersault, the tail flying up and over
like a fan dance, not the falls-over, the flips-
through, making the whole fair "ooh" like a low
prayer and then silence. Not the dust tracks
on the black velvet cap.

This missing whip. This tip
of a broken tooth. This red ribbon
clipped next to his eye, until
he shies up onto the stands.
This you, dragging your ragged
bridle afterwards.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the Endless Backyard, Part 5

A goat race. Your brother hanging onto
the pocket of your pink shorts. World's
Largest Horse. Endless shrieking, coming

near but never arriving. World's smallest
dog. Smeared glass boxes, cracked, with
bones inside. The hat worn by Jesse James.

Shake the hand of the man made of rubber.
Two liter cup of orange soda and all
the popcorn you can eat. A midget who

won't look at you sitting at a target.
A horse fly shining in your brother's hair.
A truckfull of fathers smoking. A man

swearing as he tears off the head
of a stuffed zebra. Your heel in a puddle
of beer and piss in the elephant tent. A tiny

elephant with a half-closed eye. The tickle
of a trunk, slow on your palm. Bet on number
9,
the loudspeaker says, lucky number 9.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Teen Angel



That year, everyone had your same name,
but spelled it with an "S". Black beauties

in baggies at the bottom of your purse.
A 28-year-old boyfriend. Your whispers

that my bangs made me look retarded.
I watched you break the mirror in your

locker with your hands, then stare at
the tiny blood like it was something

new. Drunk in the backseat of my car
on the way to a party. A handful of aspirin.

Some kind of song, that summer, with your
name over and over. I never knew how to

look at you, quite, one eye fixed just
a finger's breadth to the left of the other.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I've been thinking it's Monday all day today. My head is in a fine muddle of Modernism. Till I have a poem again, some things to keep you company.

1) Fantastic and friendly artist who should probably charge more. Some lovely prints from her just arrived today -- now where to put them!

2) Sick little video fits my sick head (warning -- rabbits and idols):

pictures and words