Monday, December 27, 2004

a new poem still in its embryonic stages--

The Discount Afterlife

The dogs that eat us so sweetly
are telling us they love us the only
way they know how

with their tongues

we are beyond choke chains here
beyond leashes
beyond spilt garbage cans
accidents on Mom's best sofa

beyond chasing a squirrel to the middle
of the street beyond apologies
with tented sensitive brows for biting
the neighbor's boy as he held a tennis ball
just out of reach

beyond standing at their shoulders
as they strain forward we are
underneath now

it is slow this kind of loving
death it is the kind God reserves
for angels

you can see it as they lick their dripping
chins the sentient and caressing tongues
we are their angels

and we taste like presents like the ripping
open of presents to them


any and all comments welcomed -- spelling mistakes pointed out, hate mail, insults from PETA, etc.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Here's a draft.

It’s hard to diet.

It’s hard to diet. People are always—

chocolate caramels, bon-bons spattered
with vanilla cream, thin mints striped
with pink--shoved under my nose by
perverse hands.

No one likes to eat alone.
No one wants to leave me alone.

Lasagna haunts my steps, insinuates
itself onto my desk. Everyone congregates
in the lunch room. There the microwave sings
to me, beeps like a chick released from its shell.
Salad glistens with light, my boss curses
each staff meeting with Krispy Kremes.

The girl in the next cubicle talks with her
mouth full, she is loud, excited, full of juju
bees, she throws handfuls over the divider,
I am silent, sweep the sweets from my hair and

The James Dean from the mailroom takes me
to dinner, slices his steak in half, pads it with
butter, and slips it onto the blank plate in front
of me. I am distracted by the crab cakes
and peanut sauce, two tables down.

I decide to end it all. I row into the center
of the river, the swift, gray tumble,
but before I throw myself in I see it --
the water, sizzling with fish.

No one has bought a calendar yet, which makes me VERY disappointed in you people. Hmph.

Ivy sent me a very nice postcard. Scary and cool.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've made a very cool calendar out of excerpts from my poems and various fonts. (see below)

If you would like to check it out, go here:

It's great fun; I recommend that everyone make his/her own calendar on lulu. It's free to create, and only 12 bucks a pop to buy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Today, on my birthday, I am hosting my very first poetry reading at a restaurant in Astoria. I'm very excited/nervous. After all, you only turn 40 once!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Angel of the Morning

Who are you?
You are “husband.”
What is “husband?”

“Husband” is made out of rubberbands
and salt. Husband floats in most bodies
of water, except for Lake Michigan, in
which he sinks. Husband flew to this
country, used a motor boat in the shape
of a swan when his arms got tired.

Husband has feathers for hair, slight
webbing between his fingers and
toes. Husband used to be
something else, something low and
scaley, but husband tried to reform.

Husband has teeth the size of
shoeboxes. When he kisses me
it hurts, a little.


I'm not sure about the title. I was also thinking, Swollen Angel. Got a couple rejections this week, one from the New Yorker. I think it's a good sign that now when I get rejected all I think is "great! now I can send these out to another place," rather than, "yes, I do suck ass, you're right."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

This is a rather long winded post—

I went to the Lorber/Mesmer reading tonight in Brooklyn and was blown away. It was one of the best readings I’ve ever been too—the crowd was friendly and warm, the readers funny and weird enough to keep your attention, and for a least a few minutes, I was totally absorbed by the work. It’s hard to shut out the noise of the everyday to really listen to poetry (and not listen to the other internal voices: hunger, anxiety, the smell of french fries…) but this stuff really pulled me in. Plus, Brendan dedicated a different poem to each person he knew in the audience, a cool trick. Brendan knows I’m a therapist, so he dedicated a poem to me about camp counselors… who cut off kid’s hands. I’m flattered… I suppose? Sharon Mesmer, although I don’t know her personally, was also really great.

And second, it’s on! Wednesday, December 15th, I am hosting a poetry reading at Cup, Astoria’s hottest new restaurant and hang out spot. It features the fantastical poetic stylings of me, among many others. It starts at 8, and the open mic starts at 9. Contact me ahead of time to sign up to be a scheduled reader, or just show up at 9 for the open mic. Contact me at Cup is located right across the street from the American Museum of the Moving Image,35-01 36th St., Astoria,

Also, I want to thank Riley Dog for fixing the problems with the poem. I sort of got my knickers in twist over nothing, come to think of it. There’s a war on, for chrissakes. Why am I such a prima donna.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

So, in all the excitement of being nominated for a Pushcart, someone decided that they could post parts of my poem without attribution. To you I say:

While I am flattered that you would cut and paste parts of my poem and present them
incorrectly, I must take issue at the fact that you left out my name. Please add my
name. Please. Also, I would prefer that you didn't choose stanzas at random to include. An excerpt is fine, as long as you indicate when a break occurs.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words about the pushcart prize nomination. I keep finding myself saying, it's some sort of mistake! but hopefully, they won't catch it.

The reviews where I thrash the authors until their bottoms burn are in: go to Altar Reviews and search on the page for my last name, "Hamm." I reviewed Murder -- poetry, and The End of Art -- art theory.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanks to Ivy, I just found out that I've been nominated for a pushcart prize, here, at the bottom of the page. It's for a poem that I've actually been struggling to rewrite.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Meatus

those holes
men and women share
so the landscape can mix
with our innards

the meat canal
through which music passes
into the ear

the half-mouth inscribed
in the face
of your cock

the channel for piss
carved in the front of me
where my flesh gathers itself
like a tucked skirt

those holes that
pierce us
let the night in
and the darkness out

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So I finally got the word from Daphne G.: my poem is accepted for Homewrecker, a Softskull anthology!

She had this to say about my poem:
"your poem Animal Husbandry spoke to me from the first. It
exemplified exactly what I was looking for in this anthology --complicated, ambivalent, difficult work of the highest literary order."

This is the second time I'm going to be in a collection by Softskull, the first being, The Murdering of Our Years by Mickey Z. Maybe someday they'll consider a collection of my work? Although I doubt it, as my work has been getting less and less "street" the more I write.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Since I'm only a poet, I couldn't take advantage of this, but I thought I'd pass it along:

Novelists Needed for Painful Project
Reply to:
Date: 2004-11-10, 9:02AM EST

Flux Factory ( an arts organization and collective in Long Island City, is doing a project called NOVEL this Spring. We will build cubicles at our gallery for three novelists. They will be isolated in these quarters for a month. During that month they will complete a novel from scratch. Every weekend there will be public readings. Food and such will be provided. We're currently working to get a publisher or publishing house to sponsor the project and/or commit to publishing the work. We are looking for published novelists and serious writers. Send list of publications if intrigued. Definitely a major challenge and a major commitment. We are not screwing around.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Once again, it's time for the quiz that annoys everybody. And hey people, if you hate it so much, why post the results?

It's new and improved, now with 50% less Sharon Olds.

You are Adrienne Rich, feminist poet who explores
the depths of the lesbian female soul. You
believe real poetry delves into the real self.

Which 20th Century Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

"Real poetry delves in the real self" -- what was I thinking? Was I hitting the crack pipe again?
Christmas in Hell

It's the 70's. My socks have holes and my toes
fascinate me. Christmas lights blink: the room
shimmers with red light from the fireplace.
Our tree has shed all over the indoor-outdoor
carpet. I must be careful not to eat tinsel. I
run hard in circles until I slip and fall, bite my
tongue. Everything tastes like blood from
then on. I eat more chocolate santas.

My pajamas are blue and dirty and too small.
I have shook all the presents twice. I arrange
the packages in order of size, then stack them
into a city. I try to push my brother into the
fire. He resists so I smack his face. My brother
climbs up the tree. Bulbs pop and spark. The
tree leans to one side, is propped up by a wall.

Ants have gotten into the plate of cookies left
for santa. I eat them anyways. My brother
howls until I push one through his branches.
The milk has spoilt, curdled solid. I finger
it onto each cheek -- war paint. I find the dog
under the table. He has left me a present too.

I haul him out by his tail. He snaps wearily
then goes limp. I push the dog in the fire.
He does not resist. The presents are next.
Flames and gold foil are pretty. The smell
starts in bright puffs, plastic and sharp.

I start to gallop in circles again,
faster, faster, thinking,
oh my god, why did I ever have children?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

For My Mother, Cooking

She's the salt lady

salt on the spinach salad,
salt on the scrambled eggs,
salt with the rocky road

ice cream, salt under
the beds, salt at the window
sills keeps us from escape.

Sundays to teach us she hides
the water, screws the pipes
shut, we stink and

toilets overflow with shit
and salty cabbage, we cry
silently, no tears, thirst

draws closed our throats
like the drawstring of a
silk purse, each huddled

over our shoes in the closets,
moaning and rocking, counting
the minutes to Monday, fiddling

with laces as our eyes burn, oh
mama, we are dry, we are dry

it's to teach us,
she says,
to appreciate.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hey, Mr. Flingdump, the tiny font is not my fault!

Okay, yes, but I've tried to fix it a bizzillion times and it keeps popping up small. I'd have to dump the whole format, I guess, and start from scratch.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Yeah-ha! (or however a whoop sounds phonetically) I just got a poem accepted to Rattle, which has rejected me before, most rapidly and grievously. Due out in June 2005. So that's quite a wait. But that's okay. I'm not holding my breath, much.
I sent out 4 book manuscripts today to contests: the American Poetry Review, Bakeless, Story Line Press and New Rivers Press. I decided on the title, "An Accident Waiting."

Plus: Joy Harjo has a website! I will definitely be visiting that one every day.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ivy, who is just the kindest, said my latest postcard poem (not posted) was "dark and sulky." My poetry writing group was not so kind. "What the hell is going on in this poem?" "Are they... are they, shooting porn?" And then porn makes me think of pron, and pron naturally leads to prawn, and before I know it, I'm picturing Prawns in Porn and I'm unable to speak.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Mule Deer

Everywhere in California children
are crawling out from under beds.

The deer move like broken chairs rebuilt
in the shape of a horse. They have the faces

of cows, legs like awkward architecture.
They have killed several who lived on

my street – hunters or children who tried
to feed them pancakes. I see them every

morning as I draw my curtains. They are
destroying the garden, the squash, the tomatoes,

marigolds, string beans, the beetle-peppered
roses. They keep me awake at night rustling

the rhododendron – I imagine men with knives,
as sad children often do. The bucks rub their

antlers on the front step in the fall, the does
chase us down the driveway when we stare

at their fawns: they knock down fences, dive
through wind-shields, shadow us on our hikes.

We have town meetings, shriek about control
and acceptable losses, while they toss
our babies in the fields of wild wheat.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Since Ivy said she finally got the poetry postcard I sent this week, I am now free to post it here without spoiling the surprise.

Understanding Girls and Sentences

Not only is the dictionary cautious
in accepting new girls – it is careful,
perhaps not sufficiently so, about
admitting girls heard on the street –
girls exceedingly coarse and
vulgar, who we know as slang.

Such loose girls are seldom found
in print. They dwell on the outskirts
of literary society, unfit to appear.
We may think of them as vagrants.

Sometimes a girl of this sort works
her way out of the lower east side
of speech and at last gains
admittance to the dictionary; yet
where one succeeds in living down
her low origin, hundreds remain but
mouth-girls, without respectability.
Most of them live but a short time.

Monday, October 11, 2004


I forgot what it was
I loved so much about you,

was it your hair that bunched
and jumped and glittered
like a black tiger, or your

eyes, too large for any face,
that seemed about to weep
at peculiar secrets (lost keys,
the condom that slipped, that
child you hurt long ago
with your hand during recess).

No, it was your mouth – full
of sharp, wicked teeth, wide
and red as the mark of a slap,

your mouth that beckoned,
whispered, shook my hand then
pulled me close, your mouth

that sang a two part harmony
of disgust and longing, but
you bitch, you cunt, it was
your tongue that did us in.
I've been finding it hard to motivate myself to write, so one of my tricks is to read through vintage technical manuals -- the language is so interesting and odd -- and then change the significant nouns or verbs and use other text as found. I got two interesting pieces from this today. One for my postcard poems:

Dinner with the Taxidermist

Look at the empty space, where once
were willows. The swallow is made
up of hundreds and thousands of words.
Not all of these birds are in use today;
some are found only in old books, still
others are slowly dying.

When the spinning wheel went out,
a group of spinning wheels slipped
away. There was nothing for them
to do.

The stagecoach disappeared with
a piece of our sky.

Though we all have the same names
for things, still each Africa,
each Shropshire, each 10 Cadbury Lane,
has a few words that are not found,
that are strange
to my ear.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I made another book! It's with my new poetry, all the G rated stuff (which is hard to find)and it's actually for my mother, who is coming to visit in a few weeks. A moment of silence please.

So I called it "Poems for my Mother" (duh) and it has a lot of poems that you guys have seen here recently, minus anything vaguely even PG.

Here's the cover

And here's where you go if you, you know, are interested in making a little purchase. (not talking about drugs)

Saturday, October 09, 2004

And here's another (my apologizes for those who sat through 10 rewrites of this one already):


at 4am he's still sleeping
curled up he looks five years old
the sheets wrap him like scotch tape
she pokes him he shivers and whispers
something about seagulls when she leans
close she can smell little boy sweat where
his shoulder and neck meet

something collapses inside her lungs
when he washes himself after they fuck

she can’t get rid of him so easily he’s written
on each cheek when she looks in the mirror
he’s a shard of diamond under her lid when
she closes her eyes at night every time they
fuck he leaves another piece of himself in her
something black and keening cleaves to her
stomach he's so sweet her teeth start rotting
when she looks at him
evil sugar
I'm rewriting some of the poems in Things You Can Do With a Sharpened Pencil, cutting out a lot of the crap, finally adding PAGE NUMBERS, contemplating entering it in the writer's digest best self-published book contest, though the entrance fee is $100.

Here's one of the rewrites:

Diary of a Thief

19, I was skinny and small, wore shirts over shirts over shirts, skirts,
sweaters, bit my fingernails fucked anyone who asked, the first time
away from a house where no one knew how to kiss without tongue

when I wasn’t drinking or fucking another boy who reeked of pine fresh,
I lived in our college library, a cathedral of blackened
cinnamon wood, the angels books, helpless blind and flat

one Saturday night I crammed myself into the book elevator and up
behind locked doors, fresh chainlink and bars, a famous poet, you
would know his name, the only copy of his thesis-- I took it down with me

the paper like baby skin, transparent, elusive, pages fed a manual
typewriter in the days of carbon paper, I took

it and almost the Degas sculpture, the signed Emily
Dickinson letters, the rare things we hide because some objects shimmer
so they melt in sunlight or too much viewing

I took those pages, I touched them, the hand drawn illustrations,
I kept it with my books on a darkened desk

for one week imagining the thousands it could get me or how to take
it to my breast and suckle it, make it my own, basking in the shine
around my head from having such a valuable thing,
I put it back

for years I have done this, the trespass, the baroque plans with valuables
that seem suddenly (mine) and for years I have only touched, returned,
I have regretted things caressed and left, the Chagall drawing

the Monets, but this spring I finally saw it as a talent, I can enter a private chamber, uncover without stripping what gleams and is hidden,

touch without molding to the shape of my mouth, I can return
it unkissed, unbroken, give back what belongs and it was spring

when it finally hit me
now I can be a mother

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

So, today I got In the Criminal's Cabinet, the anthology by nth position. I feel the universe is treating me pretty well that I'm lucky enough to be in a book with Todd Colby and Daphne Gottlieb, among other greats. Also, and highly important, it has a cool cover.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sleeping Dogs Lie

in the warm curtained room
I want to plumb your creases
thumb the popcorn smell from
between your toes

I want you still as I separate
your parts

pause the room quiet
only the hum of the fan

I want to meld geographies
of skin full length on full
your tongue to mine
your hair pricking my eyes

but you surly child
prefer your dreams
keep preferring
that dream beach
with the violet sun
until I go too

Thursday, September 30, 2004


in my dream you're dead
we're talking on the phone

the old fashioned kind with
a cord that embeds itself in
fingers then twirls and twirls
on its own fascinating cats
who jump on anything that moves
with a bit of strangeness

and you're talking about my
father how you've met him now

you say he's lost weight or so
he tells you

and I keep trying to change
the subject: do you wear shoes,
did your headache stop and is
there light everywhere

hung in the trees like apples
shooting from your fingertips
like spiderwebs

is there light and is there
soft cake in heaven?

Monday, September 27, 2004

So I'm waiting for my rejections from The New Yorker and Mississippi Review. I don't expect to get accepted, but maybe a personal note, if I'm lucky.

Still struggling with my personal statement with NYFA. I keep starting with "My poetry is about relationships" then I get bored and nod off.
I'm getting paid 100 smackeroos for the article on the galleries! It's like I'm a real writer.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I'm writing about menstruation, I must be Sharon Olds!


chewing spearmint at times like these has been recommended

Or Chicken Soup applied to the abdomen has been rumored
to be salutory

doctors have different opinions a white coat does not mean
they have all the answers your grandmother may prescribe
a certain tea listen to her

at your peril it is important when speaking to a girl
to use plain language pamphlets

can help families women are not so sure

dishes will break hair will come out in fists

it has been compared to falling off a roof or
conversely a visit froman unloved aunt

at all times women have this condition there is no
need for alarm blood is a normal byproduct

the pills you can take now are pale in the
commercial women twirl in polka dot dresses at the end
some of the dots fly away the pills will reduce this difficulty

someday you'll know what all the waiting is for
it is a punch line like most things

in life it hurts sometimes but it can be withstood it causes women
to wail for a presence or an absence religion might be the Answer

there can be an odor when you are in an elevator you hope
no one will notice it is something your mother avoided
talking about to you

there are diverse paper products many packages
are pink some might find the Scented Versions offensive it is

perfectly natural they keep telling you
you know there is nothing perfect

about it much has been rumored it is not
a pretty scandal cheerleaders are especially unforgiving sometimes
they won't let you cheer skirts are lifted parts inspected

it is nothing
that a moment of silence won't

cure women in other countries go off
into the hills sometimes wolves will follow

the modern women carry guns and are not afraid

This is very drafty.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Women Only Poetry Writing Workshop in NYC

Starting Oct. 10th.

In this workshop we will, through various exercises, explore the idea of character and voice. In this workshop we will attempt to shake the dust off your third eye. In this workshop, we will discover the importance of dreams in writing. Cut-ups and photographs will be a few of our methods. We will read the greats and use them as starting points for our own work.

In class writing exercises and take home assignments
Information about publication opportunities
Safe, female only atmosphere
Classes run by experience and published poetry teacher, Christine Hamm, MA

Christine Hamm has been teaching poetry classes for many years. She is the editor of several online and print magazines. She has been published in the Absinthe Literary Review, the Exquisite corpse, the Adirondack Review, Watchword Press and many others.

Fee: 155 dollars, 135 if you join the women’s studio center

For more information and to sign up and reserve a space, send an email here:
or call: (718) 361-5649

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I'm writing this article about "The Five Best Galleries You've Never Heard Of" for this new magazine and I get to go around to all these small galleries and decide if they're the best, if they're WORTHY of being written about, which makes me feel a bit like a princess, even if only in my head, and so today, finally, I broke down and asked someone at a gallery if they had images I could use, and they said for what, and I'm like, "cause I'm writing an article? for a magazine?" in my best I'm a-little-girl-don't-take-me seriously voice (hating myself as the words came out)and so they let me interview the curator of their current show, and he was so nice and cool, even though I admitted I wasn't writing for money, and I didn't even know if the mag was a quarterly or monthly! This was the Flux Factory in Queens, not too far from where I live. And they had the coolest exhibit using only recycled materials from artists all over the country. The presentation of the space was better than I expected, having heard it was an informal live/work space, still it measured up to a lot of the places in Chelsea.

And they invited me to their closing party in two weeks. It's like they care what I think!

Saturday, September 11, 2004


The Babysitter Poisoner

There are no parents here.

I am four and we sit alone on the summer
lawn. She shows me how to splice three-leaf
clovers into four to fool the boys.

She cups the pinkish clover flower, pulls it
apart, sips the sweetness at the center.
She gives me half.

I am hypnotized by her hair, its dark
glinting length, how it moves like a willow.

I almost tell her again what my parents
said about the grass. But I had already learned
that they had difficulty telling danger from
safe, sharp from soft.

Her smile is so huge I feel it take in
the whole lawn, the house, the neighborhood.
It is a warm room I can fall asleep in.

Only when we are back in the kitchen
does she remember the warnings: fertilizers,
chemicals -- phosphorus that shines and burns

She hands me glass after glass of water
still fizzing from the tap.
To flush it out, she says.

I tell her I am swallowing an ocean like
the sixth brother in the Chinese fairytale.
My elbows and ankles start to bloat.

She makes me promise not to tell.

I nod and gulp and something collapses
behind me, books sliding off a shelf.

And then the key at the door. The girl turns
into a black cat and disappears
out the bathroom window.

The front door opens: a man and woman step in.
They are imposters -- a short man, resentment
fish-hooked in the corners of his mouth, and
a frightened, smiling woman, a question mark
curled in her spine.

I do not recognize them, but remember my
instructions. I pretend they are my parents.

Later I will spend Saturdays by the front door, hoping
to see something come through,

something real.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Christine Hamm is a painter as well as a poet. And the church of girl agreed to sell some of my paintings! Go check it out.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Slight re-wwrite of below

Cold Comfort

cherry red my mother’s lipstick
applied in the review mirror as she honks
in our driveway for my brother and me
to slam our way down the front steps hissing and burping
at each other the trees the robins that destroy
our rest both of us so intent

dreams still hanging like stinking halos
from our collars wrists so intent on the comfort
and darkness under our pillows, comforters,
tucked under mattresses comfortable nothing

the driveway sliding down the hill more each day
winter’s mud pressing against the house shifting
it making the beams unsteady and the doors sleepy
cock-eyed sticking

we vow revenge against the sun the spring the school
everything that demanded we leave our dank spider-covered
comfort but especially against our mother cherry red
every morning itching to get back
to her room all bed kingsized with a hot water bottle
itching to get rid
of us

Monday, September 06, 2004

Mornings at Cold Comfort

cherry red the name of my mother’s lipstick
applied in the review mirror
as she honked in our driveway
for my brother and me to slam our way
down the front steps hissing and burping
at each other the trees the robins that destroyed
our rest both of us so intent on hate

dreams still hanging like stinking halos
from our collars wrists so intent on the comfort
and darkness under our pillows, comforters, tucked
under mattresses comfortable nothing

the driveway sliding down the hill more each day
winter’s mud pressing against the house shifting it
making the beams unsteady and the doors sleepy cock-eyed

we vowed revenge against the sun the spring the school
everything that demanded we leave our dank spider-covered
comfort but esp. against our mother cherry red
every morning itching to
get back to her room all bed kingsized with a hot water bottle
itching to get rid of us
Love Hurts, San Jose, 1975

in the photo
the man is sprawled
a Chinese ideogram
spelling knife or beauty
sadness or forgiveness
potato or tongue

blood has splashed and run
down the grey wastebasket

there is a golden cast
to the scene
the daisies on the yellow
kitchen wall the ochre
dishwasher door

one hand is curled near
his turned away face
a cheek the delicate pink
of a girl's blush when she
is caught at her first lie

the shoes are black, cheap

the blood a triangle
spread over his stomach
like a bandanna folded
across his lap to hold
a tuna fish or roast beef
sandwich on a picnic

the knife an afterthought
bright shadow
insubstantial smear
on a white t-shirt scrawled
with slogans
half words
in the folds
Ways to Say She's Thin

Scrawny. Wisp-like. Shriveled. No hips. Looks like death. Gaunt. Slenderized. Nothing to wiegh her down. A twig. Skinny. Flies away when the wind blows. Anorexic. Shrunken. Frail. No tits. Chicken legs. Slight. Breaks easily. Slight. Slim. Narrow. Sparse. Withered. Thinks she's better than us. Spindly. Underweight. Skeletal. Transparent. Size zero. Twiggy. Model-thin. Hairlike. Narrow. Gaunt. Sparse. Spindle-shanked. Scare crow. You can see right through her.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Still Life with Vase

I often wonder what the investigator
will say about my body after it's found
how he will lift my hair with his pencil
searching for the entry wound noting how fragile
and worn my bangs are from cheap bleach

and the coroner once I am on the metal bed
still in its steel arms
she will perhaps record the bloom of
bacteria on my molars calculate
the faulty brushwork

she will take her calipers to the white
flesh of my sides measure how the rings
of fat encircle me like the belts of Saturn

and then she will weigh my liver swollen
with doctors' faulty interventions
the seat of my anger bile bubbling out
even when the air is dead in me

they will poke and explore
these slim-fingered bodysnatchers the
clockwork of my vessels
the chainlink fence of my lungs

perhaps I am shot stabbed and burned but
I think it is more likely an accident someone
fell somewhere a car swerved to avoid a goose
a bottle thrown out a window by a child
who likes to hear

I think it will be a glass vase old and not
too valuable holding irises just spoiled
that shatters in the next room and
a sliver will fly
arrow to my heart

and I will think about the incredible
dust as I stare at the cobwebbed beams above
my back to the carpet faint smell of mold

everything suddenly still and rushed
and as the room yellows and then
yellows again I will be sad that I

didn't kiss you long enough that morning
kiss you until you grunted

when the coroner finally comes to wiegh
my heart she will find it enlarged she will
speak of an extra 2 ounces to the man holding
a plateful of my intestines beside her

and this because of that day when we sat
out on the bench by the river
and stared at each other
just looking and
said nothing,
saying everything

Saturday, August 28, 2004

One of my ljfriends (final girl) recently asked people why they write. The answers were fascinating. It got me thinking about it. Recently I started reading Watts' "The Way of Zen" -- which is great, very deep and yet easy to understand (I spend 20 minutes on each page to try to grasp it all)-- I read something that struck a chord. It really seemed to summarize why I, me, personally, write and what I'm trying for.

He writes: "Taoism concerns itself with unconventional knowledge, with the understanding of life directly, instead of in the abstract, linear terms of representational thinking...To understand what Taoism is about, we must at least be prepared to admit the possibility of some view of the world other than the conventional (scientific and rational), some knowledge other than the contents of our surface consciousness, which can apprehend reality only in the form of one abstract thought at time. There is no real difficulty in this, for we already admit that we "know" how to move our hands, how to make a decision, or how to breathe, even though we can hardly begin to explain how we do it in words. We know how to do it because we just do it! Taoism is an extension of this kind of knowledge, an extension which gives us a very different view of ourselves from that to which we are conventionally accustomed."

His point is that Taoism is an attempt to escape the conventional thinking mind and conventional forms of conscious, linear thinking, and to be introduced to a new form of experience.

This is what I'm trying to do (for myself) with my writing, to constantly push the limits of the rational and linear, and to be filled with the happiness of word and image "accidents". I'm trying to discover a new way of speaking, to myself.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I just published a new edition of my book... straightened out some formatting problems, and added page numbers. Plus I rewrote the back material, to quote the excellent review I got at Small Spiral Notebook. Here's thumbnails of the new front and back cover. It's not as bright as the last cover, I know, I know...



You can see more details here.

And those of you who are familiar with my work, if you go here and write a review, I will send you a cookie.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

New poem!


Love is All Around

Your breath this morning, foul, loved

out the window, hammering, overlapping

my tongue so far down your throat I can
Wednesday’s dinner, corn and roses

an old man in army boots stumbles down
a bright alley

marks from previous floods on the walls

stones older than Christ the hum
of flies

screech of birds, unseen

Now I lock myself in the bathroom
and shrink
I am small enough to slip under the door

sneak into the toe of your boot you will wear me
squashed and red a foolish tick

dark around the edges
shadows or burn marks in the bedroom add

the negative space of your forehead my thumb

smoothing your brows
left, right, left

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

this is actually a rewrite of one of the first poems I wrote after I stopped writing fiction, five years ago

1,000 Words for Snow

adolescent anorexics can be nothing but a cliche
their necks and waists pared down to a commonality

they are becoming feral and angelic
fur springing from their forearms and upper lips
cheerleaders with yellow and navy polyester croptops
revealing an emptiness

their hair falls like blond rain, more giving up
the scalp for the pillow each morning
the scent of vomit, bleach and strawberry lip gloss
coalesces in front of them like skywriting
bargaining with God, the body

eyes burn like stomach acid
mouths drool uncontrollably at the refrigerator light
they are reducing to satin bows around necks
the texture of new teddy bear fur, and pink

curling into an earlier and earlier knot
recapitulating into a sparrow, a fish, a fishbone
a wishbone of endless white ice
or vast vanilla ice cream

they are returning to something everyone
remembers but cannot say
ivory novices in an abbey
with blood colored shadows
prostrating themselves before

before it happened
before the ever slower beating organ, praying
for the final reversal of miracle

and in their ears they always hear the tinny ringing
a scratchy voice from a swollen victrola
singing of the snow-white
beauty of bones

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My contribution to Mickey Z.'s anthology about starving artists, The Murdering of Our Years, was singled out in a review. The nice thing is, it makes me sound more interesting than I really am:

"Weeping into the coffee

My sentimental favorite, though, is a writer named Christine Hamm, who describes herself, at age 7, as "a strange, unwashed, shy and morbid child." Hamm attended Reed College, where she wrote a collection of short stories for her thesis. "I wrote about the real stuff: death, sex, transvestites," she says. Then she got a master's in creative writing at SUNY-Binghamton.

Today, Hamm is a secretary. And one shivers to imagine what sort of story Herman Melville would concoct from her experiences. Though he wouldn't necessarily have to – she is clearly capable of writing her own.

Here's an excerpt from her prose poem, "Bad Secretary": "She weeps into your coffee; staples memos to her blouse. She has acne; her lipstick smears. She breaks up with her boyfriend every other weekend and makes you hear about it. ... She doesn't wear underwear. She doesn't bathe. She makes you love her. She is your master."

Here's the complete review at Mountain X.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Man, I did a search to see who took my quiz, and everybody's harshing on it. I feel the lack of love, people, I feel it.

You are Wallace Stevens. You are a sad, beautiful
insurance salesman. You write sad, beautiful
poems about nature and impossible things.

Which 20th Century Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Yeah! My poem is up at Exquisite Corpse. Find it here.
My Romance

because they are less angry and more brutal

by night Gustaf ate things that cried softly before dying

he frightened couples by snuffling
at the pink shine of their bedroom windows

not once upon a time but yesterday

in all that time no man
ventured near the angel’s mound

a huge broken shadow spooking cows
for 300 years Gustaf guarded the treasure in the hole

one called Gustaf flew out of the whitened north

the precious metals jewels and opiates

moth-like he liked to creep into our village

of coin on the floor and his red eyes sparked
angels live longer than us hundreds of years

in daylight the angel circled our forest

pile of treasure

at last his long nose scented a furred hole
on a hilltop
rubies and precious things

Gustaf spiraled to the entrance

Gustaf shat all over the cave
and made it his own

the angel’s chicken feet felt the unyielding golden stacks

and a linguist…

angels more so than men love gold

of the hole and swept inside
the angel slumbered on the gleaming
and glittering

he woke to lick and sniff lovingly

then one night a man did come he was
a criminal

Saturday, August 07, 2004

the parks of New York

on some nights New York smells of

this bench here is the one

the guy (Micheal) was dead

this mitten was lost last winter
near the lake in Prospect Park

this here button is for the pants
that no longer fit her

if by dead you mean still

the idea of eternal everafter reminds me of
the hanging tree in Washington Square

late in the afternoon under the tree he died

this was a bad idea, but she

not all ice cream is alike Hageen Daz does not
exist for example

if by death you mean a sort of loss, transformation

he told me he could control the weather
it was as if it would never stop raining

the lady at the other end
of the suicide hotline was having lunch

injections are mandatory, it seems, in certain ER’s

serene was a word I could use for the river
there over by the broken glass and pigeons

the psychiatrist became afraid and asked me to sit with him

the drought had lasted two years people were starting
to get arrested for watering their lawns

what you break in this life, you pay for
in the next he said

Astoria park has poor ground cover and is often muddy

he jumped from a bridge

if by dead you mean gave away everything
and spoke to god

in Brooklyn there is a small fragrant
enclosed triangle of grass
on Sundays music plays there softly

If by dead you mean gone, then yes, dead.

Friday, July 30, 2004

A Daughter's Love Song

Mother, this is the lost letter
the one thrust under the door
at dusk when your room is empty
when everyone is at the table
sipping coffee recovering from
the last slice of pie

this is the sealed envelope from
that long and weepy novel
slipped under the carpet instead
of into the hands of the intended
the slip of paper trembling script
that reveals all and is thus misplaced

this is the letter I thought you had read
when you looked at me that same night
on the porch the flies and misquitoes
burning themselves up on the light
a cloud of insects about your head
like a wavering halo your eyes full
of fondness and trepidation

this is the message written in
lemon juice on a paper bag
waiting for the fire to reveal itself
this is what hums between the curses
in the poems this here
and here and here
is my secret

Friday, July 23, 2004

Kitchen Sink accepted my poem!  Now I'm finally in a magazine I can find in a store.

And this you must.

Monday, July 19, 2004

My husband wakes me in the middle
of the night, asking me about cheeses.
Smell this, he says.
The doorway outlines him in light
from the kitchen.
Is this your cheese? Has it gone bad?
What? I answer. What?
I decide to lose all punctuation and
confuse people
The next day my husband throws away
all the forks, cursing.
He knows I'll buy them again,
but one bit him on the thumb.
The following night, a cat
a finger's breadth away watches
my face as I drift offto sleep.
When my eyes close
she bites my nose, not gentle,
not hard. Her cat breath is sweet
with friskies. My husband
snores and ignores her.
The forks will take care of him
in the morning.
This is a poem I'm workshopping tomorrow.  Some of the text is taken from a children's book, How Deserts Are Made.  It's a pseudo found text piece, because I added a lot of my own words.

How Deserts Are Made
My family lives in a desert house.
There is never enough milk
at the breakfast table.
The desert poppy has adapted to live
without much.  After a storm it bursts
into red flower and dies. 
Weather changes the landscape.
Grains of sand blown by the wind carve
the red rock into pillars. These change
shape as the wind changes direction. 
My father changes into someone else
every morning. Coral snakes
drape themselves on his tie rack.
All desert animals must be able to live
with very little.  I hear Gila Monsters
shift under my bed. I stop sleeping
in the bottom bunk.
My mother is silent for days.
She serves bowls of sand for dinner. 
She often disappears in the shadows under the porch.
The kit fox yips outside my window at night. 
He sings blue shoe, blue shoe, blue shoe.
It is a sad sound.  I often wish I could see
the moon but my father says he hides it.
A man can survive for a week in the desert
if he knows what to do.
There are beautiful things here, things that
sting and run away.
I sit on the lawn at noon and watch
the scorpions gather stones.
They are building a fence around us.
They need protection.
I’ve lived twelve years,
never tasted water.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Daphne Gottlieb, my poetic counter-culture hero, said "OH MY GOD" and "I love it" when she read the cheating dog poem, below. I think I might as well stop writing now, as it can't get any better than that.
Yeah, and the lord said mightly, Dead Kitty is... is a misfit at the misfit library. I'm so pleased. I applied a few months ago and I thought they had already rejected me. But today they told me I was accepted! It's a small, select, elite group of trained killers, I mean... it's a bunch of good writers who get together on the web and collaborate and give each other feedback and publish a journal, and stuff. So far most of the other members seem to be fiction writers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Toilets I Have Known

The highlights--

The Plaza:
Where I had high tea. I slipped on the polished pink marble floor and almost broke my chin on the sink counter. The attendant stared, then offered a hand towel to someone else.

Zagreb train station:
Where I had to pay 50 dinar. The station was cathedral roofed -- white pigeons flew so high above they made constellations. The ladies was in a corner, holes dug through the floor into soil, stalls without ceilings. As I squatted I could see wings sweep up into the smokey ether.

331 Alamos Road:
Where I grew up. The “guest” bathroom was the prettiest, black tile floors, wallpaper mimicking gold leaf. My dad didn’t like me to lock the door, rattled the knob for an hour when I tried.

Crescent Street:
Where I live now. I don’t bother to close the door more than halfway, the tub needs scrubbing, cats wander in and out at will, to check on my progress.

The Island:
Where I work. Smells like bleach, but roaches scramble where the tin walls meet the tile. I use the handicapped stall since the seat’s so high my feet dangle. Makes me feel three again, new at this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Tinfoil Hat

I visit this lady once a week she is sweet but
most of her is missing she is crazy and she
has to pee a lot every fifteen minutes sometimes
she doesn’t make it to the toilet her shoes stink of urine

Most of her teeth are missing her face is the color of a
Brillo pad she has an eye that looks inward all white

She used to work in a psychiatric hospital the head nurse
injected the noisy patients with something that gave them
seizures the patients refused to eat and threw shit at
the staff the nurses beat each other on pay day

Once she saw a big big as a black dog patient step on
another’s head grind it she said then he saw me watching...
I looked away pretended not to see
she is almost blind

She still wears her nurse uniform when I visit she says jobs were
hard to find back then most of the buttons are missing I can
see the scar on her chest from heart surgery and where her
breasts crease into themselves

Sometimes she compliments me
on my dress and I say,
thanks, mom.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

My work is coming out! In print, finally. It should arrive in the mail this week: Loop #5. It's been sooo long (eight months) I've entirely forgotten what I submitted to them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Monday, June 07, 2004

I just wanted to make you all aware of a new blog set up by my friend, Mickey Z. ( Mickey is not only a wonderful and ironic poet, but the sharpest and best informed political writer in NYC. And he's incredibly prolific.
Animal Husbandry

The dog tells me that's he leaving me, that he no longer likes sticking his nose in my pussy. This last week he has been slipping his leash after I fall asleep and sucking cock in the backroom at Woody's. He tells me about the glory holes in the bathroom of the New York Public Library. I tell him he's lying, that dogs aren't allowed in the library. I'm having trouble breathing. I sit down on the edge of the bed. I shout, what, so women aren't good enough for you anymore! I remind him of our first date, how he tied me up and we cried all night. Never before had I been threatened with such tenderness, such sincerity. You can't fake that! I scream. I am sobbing. I am not a woman if my dog doesn't want me. I'm a question mark in a skirt.

The dog has his sad puppy-dog eyes on. I've seen him practice this look in the mirror. He asks me not to hate him. He rolls his eyes and whines.

I know that he's already picturing himself out on a walk, leaving me here alone in a room full of condoms and chew toys, some man's hand on his leash. I wonder if it's my scent that he finds so vile. He rests his chin on his crossed paws. It's not that you're fat, he tells me. There's a gland near the base of the skull that regulates it-- this desire, this thing, for bones.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Weather in California

I was turning thirteen the way
milk turns, becomes thicker,
more complicated, fragrant.
I saw the man with his mirror
and drill in my mouth
as a prophet, a broken wiseman
who had seen the light
and was ever after plagued
by a mist of tears.

As his pick slipped off my gums
he whispered about the language
used in the trenches of World War II,
the code no German could break --
Navajo, a language of pauses and sighs,
vowels that resonate from the chest,
the people on whose land
the dentist's office squatted.

He was a man, he knew things.
He had been hurt by his daughter
and my mother trusted him.

When he said, this time, I think
we don't need novocaine,
I didn't want to
disappoint. I said yes --
a word everyone wanted
from me -- I understood that,
and when the drill came,
with its high thunder in
my head, I knew what was

When it was done
he saw I was quiet,
saw I made no protest.
He told me I was
good, a good patient,
he said.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Okay, that poem thing below (Forensic Adultery) was more of an excercise. I got some real stuff I've been working on coming up. Tho' I can't seem to be able to take the position of the homewrecker in my poems, just of the homewrecked. Mike Snider and I both got published by the Plum Ruby Review at the same time. How cool is that! and I'm flattered that my work in on the same site as his.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Re-write of Drive (orig. post below)

Steer, Wheel


/stop the car/

you said and I

pulled to the side I was

driving instead of you I was 12.

You told my brother to get out

get out he said no sat still

for the first time gripped the car

seat as if his knuckles could grow


It was the red car it was

the one I flipped down a hill later

that year.

David my brother.

Mom turned to you from the

backseat her face red her hair

distraught and you laughed


How could you stop?

How could any of us,


I'm still trying to come up with a good "homewrecker" poem to submit to the anthology she's putting together. For details go to
Daphne's site.

Oh, and I finally got something accepted at Exquisite Corpse! At first I thought they had made a mistake, since I received a rejection from Andre about a month ago. But they just accepted another piece I submitted last year. Which I totally forgot about.

Here's another shot -- comments please!

Forensic Adultery

It doesn’t matter:
you’re mine you can’t leave
I have your skin --
flaked cells, nail parings
snot surreptiously wiped
hair, ear wax, salvia, semen

in this bed we shared the same mites
our hemoglobin has met and linked hands
I licked your cheek after the razor cut

I’ve never cleaned our sheets blankets towels handiwipes tissues dirty dishes
your vanilla/ganja scent’s in the walls
clings to my hair
under my fingernails
I’ve never washed you’re still here

I can build another you in your absence
(of your absence)
you can’t leave me
I’m telling you
I have you
I have all of you
right here

the fibers don’t lie.

Sunday, May 16, 2004


/stop the car/
you said and I
pulled to the side I was
driving instead of you even
though I was 12.

You told my brother to get out
get out and he said no sat still
for the first time gripped the car
seat as if his knuckles could grow

It was the red car or perhaps it was
the blue one I rolled down a hill later
that year.

Mom turned to you her face red her hair
helpless and distraught and you laughed

How could you stop?
How could any of us,

Monday, May 03, 2004

To Madame X at my lunch table

You sit across from me.
Everything new is hard but
your face is soft and quiet your smile
constantly erasing itself.

Crack us open
you'll find the same violet grub.

I too have problems with my eyes
with letting people see them.
I fear being read.
You fear being heard.

I know just how you feel, you
with the wilting lily in your hair.
You're afraid the party's over
or that it's just started, and everybody
but you is in costume.

You want to live on air forget sleep
forget the hollow place in the bed
beside you forget the dark blue
of your blood when you are slicing
onions accidentally.

You want the grime in the street to stop
calling to you the one-legged man
laying on Avenue A
to stop shouting your name.

You look at a bridge and see a series
of "x"s not and not and not and
you don't like soda bread or raisins or wine.
You want to go to India but your feet will get

You don't sleep because your
dreams crab at you.
Get that lizard out of here!
your mother screams
the milk spoiling and your
mouth filling with feathers.

Hold my hand. I've been there.
Here's how it goes:

Spit. Take a deep breath.
Let yourself slip under.
Red and lime-green climb
down your eyelashes and leopards
the size of houses sleep. When they bite

you taste candy.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Whopee! I got a whole new format. The background, which you may be able to see, faintly, if the page is loading right, is the opening page of a book about 17th century nun and poet, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. She was an extraordinary writer and renown wit, until the patriarchy shut her down. Bad patriarchs, bad. There's a very good film made about her life, from the 50's or 60's I believe. Cruz is supposed to have scribbled on this very page.

Friday, April 16, 2004

For Laur, After College

You are not mostly in my dreams.

For a while, yes, for years,
I sat on your bed counting the crooked places
in the pine branches outside the window
while you talked in a room
on the other side of your old house
(carpets worn beyond grey,
money taped under the drawers)

Your mother's smile made me wince.
She was washing the aluminum foil--
again and again -- so German --
hanging it outside on a line to dry.

So now
I dream about darker, more fragrant houses
or a beach
with pink waves that knock me, again and again,
into the warm sand. Horses everywhere, rolling and
shivering in the surf.
When I wake, there's someone
there and he washes my dishes,
feeds my cats.

Look out the window.

There's bright flashing, almost Morse.
It's me saying it's safe. I'm over you.

It's time for you to call.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I am nearly speechless (which never happens). Small Spiral Notebook published a rave review of my poetry book. I must celebrate, get a pedicure or something.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Yeah! Red River Review published my poem! Without even notifiying me. Whee! Here it is. More poems about typing and being angry... about having to type.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

I'm trying a new style. Poem.

Oh Daddy

what are you what are you doing
why is this locked not locked locked

I’m just going to stand here
pound until shut it!
Shut it! no you don’t Shut it!
Shut up and shut it shut it
please shut it oh now there’s no
shut it... oh.

A dark horse in the living room. My mother sips
mint tea reads Agatha Christie the rubber plant
touches the ceiling the clouds fog or is it
smoke crawl in through the windows
they are shut shut it! shut it! I stand naked
in the corner and quiver there’s humming a blank

a blank spot shut it
shut it oh
shut it

Disturbing, much?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

New poem!(not quite sure if the commas are working, innit) And, by the way, I am on the short list to having a poem accepted by a Sci-fi, fantasy mag, Adromeda in-flight, which PAYS for poetry. How insane is that?


Summer around our backyard pool,
I sat half in her shadow, the chlorine drying in my shivers,
and held her feet while she lay dark-glassed and silent
in the striped beach chair.

Her ruby toenails were the throats of hummingbirds
her freckles -- constellations foretelling my future
but the ragged patch
on her right foot, where the tan

seemed erased, drew my little girl kisses
because that part, that most naked pale skin,
was on my own foot in the same frog-shape

and it was by that mark I knew
no matter what she said,
she was my mother.
Meet my alter-ego Mike, or so he claims.

BTW, you can also find my blog by googling, "trek panties." Who knew.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

If you do a google search for "psychiatric stock photos" or "weapons, including sharpened pencils" you will come upon my book. Buy it! It's funny, dark and sexy.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Hey, fellow poets, I've finally admitted it -- I'm
addicted to the web. Every day it sucks away 2-3
precious hours, and during the time, I stumble across
many interesting writing sites. I've wanted to share
my discoveries with people -- since writing misery (I
mean fun) loves company, so I'm trying to start a
mailing list, which will be irregular, daily or
weekly, depending on my mood. It will list the poetry
sites, contests and furballs (ok, my cat made me type
that last one) I come across all the time. If you are
interested, please respond to, subject -SIGN UP. I will
probably be mailing the list from a different address
however, I'll keep you updated.

Monday, March 01, 2004

I had the most wonderful Sunday because I got to volunteer for Brendan Lorber (editor of Lungful!) at his fund-raiser for the new issue at the Zinc bar and all sorts of wonderful poets were there and I even got to talk a little to some of them although one woman from my poetry class seemed to be hating me and of course, smacks head, it's because I'm fat and I make stupid comments in class. Which explains all my problems yet again. Speaking of class, Brendan is running this most wonderful at the Poetry Project and I am learning so very much about the New York School and different styles of poetry which do not include rhymes so I don't have to hate them and I am very glad that I did not try to get yet another MA in writing and instead just opted to take classes at the Poetry Project. Ye shall see some of the fruits of this class soon.
I am so giddy!!
Because I just found out that I won two prizes for my poetry and I am just extra-happy and bouncy. One here, where I was one of 25 winners, and here I was nominated by The Critical Poet to represent the board for March -- hee! Out of hundreds of poems! So the IBPC is more of a semi-finals, I have to find out if I win that.

Monday, January 19, 2004

I have so neglected you, my little blogger friend. Here's something to chew on:

The Field Guide to North American Birds

As soon as I learned to walk, my mother
took me out of the house in dawdling tours
of our neighborhood skies, me barefoot and her
in pink tennis shoes: the simple kind that
were popular back then, not good for running.

She was trying to introduce me to birds:
the Purple Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker,
Steller’s Jay, Evening Grosbeak, Northern
Cardinal, Mountain Wren, Yellow-throated
Warbler --
the seed-eaters, the sap-suckers and those with
beaks like knives, the better to pry at shrinking

Their names were exotic to me
full of color, odd vowels and places I had never
been --the European Starling.
Europe was where princesses were born and where
everyone wore red velvet. Starling sounded
like a tiny star, black, who could perch and fly
and call in a scream that made me jump.
The White-breasted Nuthatch -- who embarrassed me,
yet made me look hard for her in the pine tree
in our backyard.

She was creating them, my mother, as she gave
each a name, and explained how different they were
from us: lungs that never exhaled in sighs, bones that floated
hollow, and hearts that beat a thousand times a minute.

It was on this walk
under telephone wires that
wrang with house wrens
I first saw it
the envy in my mother’s eyes
of things that were free.