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.