Friday, December 28, 2007

Current Symptoms Include

How I Let the Tiger Out

swallowed all the ice hidden under your sink, thumbed your spit from my thighs onto my eye glasses, fingered the cracks in your walls, stowed your seed & fly eggs behind my smile, rolled my eyes back and rocked until the seizures stopped, slipped sugar into the gas tank of a jaguar parked on your sister's street, used your slingshot on the windshield of a cop car, sewed your curtains into a sling: hauled our baby --fat, mirror-colored, furred -- climbed the chainlink and offered him up

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Here's a new poem. Very much a draft -- I'll probably erase this soon and come up with a new version.

Wash Day

the next thing you know I’m covered
with fur and all the windows
are broken, someone’s in the corner
crying with her apron over her head
the fire has gone dead
fingers burnt with bleach at the core

everyone’s pale and glaring
the kettle bubbling black
overflowing, spilling on the dirt floor
the twig brooms ruined -- sticky

scars appear on my arms
cracks on my scalp
the light starts pouring out
mixing with the black clouds of her breath
viscous soup or soupy fluid
the soap slipping between my hands

my lips part gasping
like a soap-eyed fish
the fur spreads to the fire
the ceiling , September
is melancholy for most

the urgent thing I’ve forgotten
finger tips in the ungent
jars and jars of squirrel tails and rat brains
ancestral lizards slide down
the bannister, I pick
fur from between my teeth

we are all ready already
ankles crossed, bows brushing
our strings, the sting of hornets
red-faced, fevered, jungle beneath the city,
green sky, abscess under our feet

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Indulge me, I am a Hamm. When I was young I used to tell kids that my dad owned the Hamm beer company and that there were always barrels and barrels of beer around the house. I also said that I washed my hair in beer, and that's how I turned blonde. I was always so amazed when people believed me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Selling of the Parts

I contact Ebay to see if I can sell
my left ventricle. Customer service
has a hard time getting back to me,
their emails keep ending up in my
spam folder, so I decide to call
the free 800 number (it's supposed
to be active 24 hours a day) but
then I just get a recording, and the
funny thing is, the recording has
my name on it, it's kind of hard
to understand, there's the noise
of large machinery and race cars
in the background, and I wonder
for the first time where Ebay
is located, is it in a particular
state? I always imagined it floating
in cyberspace somewhere, and when
I picture cyberspace, my ideas
alternate between a cold black
icy room with green numbers floating
by like large dust particles, and a
vast empty white plane, peopled
by tall white men in form-fitting
plastic body suits. Anyway, the recording
says something about Christine
and then something about Beth Anne
and the requirements to become a gold
member, but I don't want to become
a gold member, I keep telling the recording
machine, I just want to find out
how to sell this tiny part, which is
hard because I don't have a very clear
photo, and I'm not sure how much
to charge for shipping.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lots of crap has been happening. But I need to feed you. So here you are.

Disaster Sushi

While I, while it
drops through my chopsticks
the sticky rice round your chin
you tell me about the baby
elephant who tried to get
into your size 12 pants
in the rest room, where
you had taken them off
to air, as that infection
had come back, and with a rash
this time, and I ask if
you're speaking metaphorically.
You blink as if a lizard
had skittled over your brain
and then the light bulb
bursts over your head;
in the shower of harmless,
deadly glass you say
now we're both in the dark,
what were you talking about, love?

Friday, December 14, 2007

I was supposed to write a "calming" poem -- it was supposed to "calm" the reader. Well, I can't do that. I can disturb, horrify, disgust, but "calm"? Nyahh. So here's a poem about "being calmed."

(Mr. Xanax, Mr. Ativan, Mr. Valium)

shaking, spit trailing, white
she cups a hand
she curls up, still

it is a good, it is an excellent

he curls up
next to her on the rug
twines her fingers, she lies shaking,
spit trailing, white
face in a blue bowl,
he cups a hand around her ear,
whispers, Mister, Mister

it is a good drug, an excellent trailing
dream, a fluffy white rug, it glows
cupped in his Wednesday,

his floating hand, his blue subtle ears
of white soap and curled terrier,
it is a cupped slug who hums
softly, a steady, slow fingering vibration

you can feel it if you just, whispering,
spit cupped in hands,
if you just hold still

Leave me more lines! More lines, I beg of you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

As some of you (or perhaps none) may know, my birthday is coming up on Saturday. Of course, you are probably asking yourself: what, what can I get Christine that is of sufficient magnitude to please her? The answer is simple: I'd like the first few words, or the first line to a poem, please. Drop it right there in the comments section, and I'll see what I can do with it. Nice wrapping paper is appreciated, as are neat, taped corners.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Emily!

This is mostly just a fragment. I’ve had a hard time writing lately, and at least I finally got this one out. You may have seen poems about this theme from me before. (Ahem)

I Tell My Mother

About a dream in which she dies.
There’s a cranky buzz on the
cordless phone, I bring it closer
to the base, farther away,
the buzz stays the same. I can
hear my mother licking her lips
and sipping her coffee. Go on,
she says, tell me the part about
the stairs again.
The reading on Sunday was interesting. I've never had a question and answer period after a reading, and the MC asked me to give one so... I now understand quite throughly that many people want poetry to rhyme. Yes, that was made clear.

But hey, I got paid to read! That's never happened before, unless I got paid in buttons and bottle caps.

Here's me before I got on the subway to go to the reading.  The two glowing eyes at the bottom are from the alien I bought last week at the hardware store:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hi All

I'm doing a reading on December 9th at 2PM.
It's at the Queens Central Library ---

Central Library Auditorium
89-11 Merrick Boulevard

Phone: 718.990.0700
Directions: You take the F train to
169th Street, walk one block south to 89th Ave., turn right, the Library
fills almost a whole block, the entrance is exactly opposite the Bus
You walk straight to the elevator, take it one flight down, follow the
cards along the wall to the auditorium.

The reading's followed by an open mic, so please come and bring some stuff of your own to share!

These things usually have a big audience, so it would be great to see a few friendly faces in there!

And here's a rewrite of a poem I posted a few weeks ago.

The Fireman's Wife

1. The Dance of the Pink Elephant

Tell me about the bucket,
I asked him, as he stared
at the bucket.

It was a battered, ugly
bucket, stained and reeking
of pus.

He kicked the bucket
into the corner and it tangled
around his ankle, making
a terrible racket. I don't know
what you're talking about, he said,
his hands busy, I don't see
any bucket.

2. The Big House

I always planned
to have a big house,
he said. A big house
and a big black car. No,
two big cars. And you
were always in that house,
waiting for me.

3. His Business Card

I don't understand
why you're leaving me,
he said as I pulled down
the charred curtains and
stuffed them into a garbage bag.

the burning dining room table,
mice with singed tails
stampeded across our cats.

I love you, he said,
and things are
going so well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

4 Days

Saturday: 1:32 PM The NY train is late. On the platform, I shiver and sip my cooling Chai Latte. I balance my cup on the railing and stick my hands in my pockets. My back hurts from the cold.

Sunday: 9:15 AM My alarm goes off --I have to get up to go have brunch. The room smells vaguely of smoke. Next to the bed I find a small burned hole where my husband dropped his lit cigarette on the carpet.

Sunday: 10:10AM When I go to leave, I find the front door propped open. I see my husband’s keys dangling from the lock out in the hallway. I try to close the door behind me, but the hinges are broken.

Sunday: 1:30PM My fried potatoes taste like heaven -- all garlic and crip edges. I want to eat more but I can’t. Next to me, two sisters argue about whether or not Sharon Olds gives good critiques.

Monday: 12:15 PM I poke at my Teraki Bowl ™ at Au Bon Pain. The meat is really greasey but the rice is okay. The salad tastes like nail polish remover. My boss makes another joke about trees and asks me what’s wrong with my food.

Monday: 10:30 PM I lay propped up on my bed in the youth hostel, trying to read contemporary feminist criticism. My room smells strongly of bleach and I feel sleepy. I take another bite out of my sugar cookie, licking at the apricot jam at the center.

Tuesday: 12:45 PM New Jersey is squalid in the rain. From the train window I can see into everyone’s backyards. They’re all full of broken plastic -- collapsed fences, torn tarps, half-buried Big Wheels. I yawn and my lips hurt.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sorry I have neglected you for so long, but finally, I have written some poems. Not my usual style, and heavily influenced by Hal Sirowitz.

The Fireman Left His Business Card

I don't understand
why you're leaving me,
he said as I pulled down
the charred curtains and
stuffed them into a garbage bag.

Mice with singed
tails stampeded across
the backs of cats underneath
the burning dining room table.

I love you, he said,
and things are
going so well.


The Big House

I always planned
to have a big house,
he said. A big house
and a big black car. No,
two big cars. And you
were always in that house,
waiting for me.


The Dance of the Pink Elephant

Tell me about the bucket,
I ask him, as he stares
at the bucket.

It's a battered, ugly
bucket, stained and smelling
of pus.

He kicks the bucket
into the corner and it tangles
around his ankle, making
a terrible racket. I don't know
what you're talking about, he says,
his hands busy, I don't see
any bucket.


Maybe they should all be part of one poem? What do you think?

Friday, November 16, 2007


needle, red spool of thread, plastic
thimble spilling over, syringe (needle
popped off), bees in the bottom of
a glass globe, wings twitching, antennae
to the left, middle, right, white acrylic
paint in a half-folded tube, a folding
table stained with nacho cheese, the tail
of a cat, rapidly vanishing, handprints on
the thighs of jeans, brown wool sweater,
moth-eaten, stretched across cardboard,
a liquid iron supplement, sticky spoon,
a piece of black plastic, a hole in the
middle, the shape of a startled fawn

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Happy, Happy

I just found out I got accepted to the Palm Beach Poetry Festival's advanced writing workshop with Kim Addonizio.

I have worshiped that woman for sooo long from afar. I'm jumping out of my pants, I'm so happy. And yet: It's quite expensive -- I did manage to get a hotel room under 70 dollars a night, when most of the suggested housing was upwards of 200 a night. But still. No more buying books, or clothes.... or food or toilet paper.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. But still. Kim Addonizio!! I get 5 days of workshops with her. I'll probably find a way to snip a little piece of her hair to keep in a shrine, as if she were a saint. Or a finger bone might do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm now finally teaching my poetry class at Rutgers. I luuuv teaching poetry. I could do it all day and all night, for free.

However, I'm now supposed to come up with my own catch phrase (or soundbite) about poetry for the school advertisements. It will go under my insanely grinning headshot. Here are some preliminary tries (please add your own in the comments):

Poetry: better than suicide.

Poetry is the axe, frozen seas, etc.

Poetry: drowning, not waving.

If architecture is frozen music, then poetry is melting architecture.

Poetry: it doesn't have to rhyme!

Self-expression: good for high blood pressure.

Sylvia Plath was dead wrong: poetry doesn't have to hurt!

'Till your fingers bleed.

Poetry is not (just) for sissies.

We can't all be Shakespeare, but damn if we can't spend a lot of money trying.

Poetry is never having to say you're sorry.

If wishes were poems, then beggars would write.

Friday, November 09, 2007


1. Bees. Blown up, black and white etchings of bees, poorly Xeroxed. Small bright photos of bumblebees on on pink rhododendrons. Segments. The furry torso. The legs bent back like the less than sign, burdened with fur. The antennae seem lonely, somehow.

2. Sunburn. The lake. A woman with short brown curly hair ( I can’t see her face) lifts up her bikini strap. On her shoulder, her skin is brick red and then in the space under the strap, half-shadowed, white. The furiously green trees in the background have extra crisp edges -- there’s no distance blur. I can hear splashing and the sound of a beach ball being whacked. Somebody’s laughing; somebody’s speaking quietly.

3. Shallow river. Unnaturally blue, flowing down a hillside into mud. It’s raining lightly and ruining the carnival. I have stolen something and hid it under a bench. The organizer comes to find me and I try to look innocent. I deserve this thing, this small thing that fits in my two hands. No one else needs it as much as me. I wish the performance was over already.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I just got a prose poem published in deathmetal poetry, and accepted in In Posse. Go, prose poems!

There is never enough gas.

I stopped driving after my sister’s death. She died slowly, in three separate car accidents. Accidents happen, the priest told us at her funeral. My mother fell to the ground again, weeping. My father watched her slowly, grinding his toothpick with his enormous incisors. We all agreed to put the car to sleep, but could not agree on a date. My brother wanted Christmas, because of the enormous tacky symbolism and the commercialism. My mother fell to the ground again, weeping, so we turned up the radio. A song about sister Christian was playing, but the guitar blocked out most of the words. The batteries leaked over our hands and our skin turned magenta in splotches. We decided to live underground so my mother could stop falling. The car moved in with us while we decided its fate. I liked to curl up on the engine to keep warm, surrounded by kittens and the souls of car salesmen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Saturdays

Samantha is concerned about the butter.

Jonathan is burying his dead dog.

Alice is hemming his pants.

Marie is practicing her putt in the backyard.

Luther is constructing another boat out of pre-made parts.

Jan is hoping no one notices the mark on her chin where she fell after her 4th vodka.

Becky is watching herself in the mirror as she pierces her ear for the third time with a thumbtack.

Jeff is comfortably crosslegged on his roof, watching the light subside and swatting at bees.

Darlene is learning how to short out the coffee-maker using just her tongue and a butter knife.

Ben is watching cloud formations for a sign.

David is lighting a series of small firecrackers under the neighbor’s house.

Isabel is mixing white nail polish in with her coffee as she sits on the front stoop.

Michelle is contemplating her father’s cancer as she picks through the marred tomatoes in her ice box.

Ellen is parked in her driveway, counting her children on her fingers, and then counting again.


Does this seem boring and/or arbitrary? It's my own little leaves of grass.

Friday, November 02, 2007

People are Starting to Get Arrested

how you follow me
that purpled oil slick shining

I don’t bother to close the door
I squat inside, my head near the handle

the botanist is curious
rattles the doorknob for hours

I let those girls lick our noses clean
I make a cradle of my hands
and steal her hotdog

her small hand presses on my wrist,
has feathers for hair, slight webbing

I can’t stop myself from putting
my tongue on the small of her name

as I watch the records burn,
our lips bruised with grape soda,
she slips the latch down

maybe I’m full of 12th graders
making and selling paper flowers

this is the letter I thought you had read

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hunters Point, 1PM

the girl in front of me
is paying for her cheeseburger
with stripper bills, tens and fives
folded down the middle,
greasy from her thighs

her brown matted braid swings
down as her diamond-starred
fingernails untangle her cash,
wadded at the bottom of a purse

out of its gleaming depths
floats a stray napkin
white unfolding bright
struck by a breeze
from the opening door,
it rises into the street, vanishes

Is the last part awkward?

(This is the part of Queens that has a lot of ladies of the evening.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange one...

Song of the Real Doll

“made in the workshop of filthy creation” –Frankenstein

Oracle, Orifice, my tongue can be removed for easier access,
a mouth constantly open, ready, soft

things I am missing: a voice box,
various glands, the ability to whisper

my head is a hive full of air, extra light for quick positioning,
my hair is rooted, strand by strand, should the idea of blonde
reins occur to you

you can put whatever you like into my eye,
broken wine glasses, carpet fiber, the words “I want,”
over and over again

men throw me down in the tub, the kitchen, the garden,
trying to reach the holy in me
trying to touch that faint blue light, that turning mirrored sphere

they use flesh covered instruments and they fail and fail
I never yawn and wash their tears off my breasts

I have never met a man I didn’t like

I am stillness, the stone fixed to mountain,
the November icicle that never falls

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why I Deserve an Extreme Makeover

people often read my poetry and ask
themselves, So what? or stand next to me
in line at the bank and say, How could
you do this to us?
a woman
with exceptionally shimmering gray
eyes once told me that my work
made her queasy, she whispered this
while digging a hole in my front lawn,
a girl who I’ve never met (but who claims
to have extraordinarily long and full
blue hair) wrote me and blamed me
for her nightmare about a dead woman
under her bed
, a man who tried to look
older by dyeing his beard gray sat across
from me at Starbucks and told me
that certain of my poems brought back
childhood memories he’d hoped
he’d forgotten forever, I get ten
call hang-ups a day on my answering machine,
sometimes a short, moist breath
is recorded, I suspect my mother
has read my poetry and is planning
a peculiar sort of gas-soaked revenge


I believe I've gotten every single one of these responses, except not in the settings described.

Monday, October 22, 2007

sometimes I write the word "mother"
when I actually mean "cat"

condensation on the bookshelf,
the lower drawer in the kitchenette,
a puddle of gruel accumulating
on the seat of the new "winged
chariot" Ford Odyssey, September
slopping into the bucket you keep
under your chair, in case,
the crossing-guards drop by again,
hungry for some baked Alaska
with artificial violets


T.S. Eliot fans will bust a hip laughing:


Sunday, October 14, 2007

For Loretta

sleeping hands, your rooms are empty
or contain one fish one girl a chair

or a garden aching with green symmetry
their eyes are far into the horizon

or the floor there is never any
electricity but lots of perfect

clouds round, boyant
glowing pinkly underneath like

slowing opening mouths
like soft teeth at dawn

your walls are green or blue or pink
your children are lost

in thought or lost in time
your floors, neat, spacious

somewhere several soft lights are glowing
we never know where the children’s

hands blanch and pinken as if they are very
cold or very anemic we notice their cheeks

uneasily that glow means a fever
some odd and secret excitement

white peaches piled in the vegetable
aisle or spilling from vendors out into

the smoke smeared, gummy dark
sidewalk have that kind of iridescent

dangerous salmon shiver or blur
we imagine at night the soft half

moons of the children’s naked
fingernails glow steadily as if they

are lit within and some of the light
is leaking out as if, if they opened

their mouths, we would see other
pastels rooms empty as this one

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Disquieting Muses

We are all waiting by the gate. Down below us, water slaps in irregular movements against the stone. In the shadows the ripples are grey and green, sometimes brown. In the light, we can see only white reflections, a trapped sun. The children finally collapse in the dirt, rubbing their fingers in the dust and then sucking them. The parents lift their children by the hands, try to get them to stand. The children slide down slowly as if the bones in their legs have turned to syrup. They hold the fallen maple leaves to their ears, crinkle the dry red back and forth.

The older children try to walk but the sounds under their feet stop them. They lift their sandels gingerly, distracted by the rustle. The parents continue to walk in circles, talking on their cell phones or staring morosely at the sky, waiting for the gate to open.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Upcoming Readings

I have two readings coming up on October 16th and October 25th.

I’m reading at Think Coffee in the Village on Tuesday, October 16th. The reading starts at seven and here’s some of the bios:

Christine Hamm
is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Drew University. She recently won the MiPoesias First Annual Chapbook Competition with her manuscript, Children Having Trouble with Meat. Her poetry has been published in The Adirondack Review, Rattle, Exquisite Corpse and over 90 other journals. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and she teaches English and poetry at Rutgers University. Christine has performed her poetry at venues including the Bowery Poetry Club, The Poetry Project and Ear Inn. The Transparent Dinner, her book of poems, was published by Mayapple Press in 2006. Christine was recently named a runner-up to the Poet Laureate of Queens. For more about her, go to

Erika Lutzner is professional chef, former violinist and writer. She feels more comfortable with a knife or a pen in her hand than eyeliner or nailpolish. Her parents would'nt let her into the kitchen until her 27th birthday, yet she somehow managed to become a professional chef. Words, whether inked out on flesh, paper, or some other art form are her means of communication. There's a cadence driving through her head constantly. She's been published in Wicked Alice, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, Food/Arts, and this summer attended Breadloaf's Writer's conference.

Kate Hall
is a former poetry editor of Stirring: A Literary Collection. Her poetry and stories have appeared in such journals as Antioch Review, In Posse, Mudlark, Big Bridge, Disquieting Muses, Poetry Magazine, The 2River View, Perihelion, Mississippi
Review, Zuzu's Petals Quarterly, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood and Rattle. She was awarded the Robert Frost Poetry Prize by Kenyon College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She also holds a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Think Coffee is very nice coffee house with a delicious array of coffee drinks and ambivalent salespeople!

Directions: 248 Mercer Street, between 3rd and 4th streets -- You can take the abcdef to West 4th Street and than walk on West 4th towards Broadway until you find Mercer, or you can take the nwr to 8th Street and then walk down Broadway until you hit 4th, then walk a few blocks west.

On October 25th at 8PM, I’ll be reading in Astoria at Waltz Café as part of a benefit for Peace.


Eli Yamin--Jazz composer and keyboardist, Eli Yamin, has just returned from
touring Mali, India, and China with Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rhythm Road
All-Stars. He has played and recorded with numerous bands through the years
(including Illinois Jacquet's big band, Solar, and The Eli Yamin Quartet),
and has produced and hosted jazz and blues programs for WBGO/Jazz 88,
Sirius Satellite Radio, and National Public Radio.

Stephan Said--Iraqi-American singer-songwriter and activist Stephan Said
(who has also recorded as Stephan Smith) has been praised by The Village
Voice as an "heir apparent to Woody Guthrie" and by Jam TV as "the clearest
voice of the protest movement rising up out of Seattle." His CDs include
Slash and Burn (Artemis Records), Now's the Time (Rounder/Universal), and
New World Worder (Universal Hobo).

Christine Hamm-- Poet Christine Hamm is the author of The Transparent
Dinner, published in 2006 by Mayapple Press. She has also published three
chapbooks: Children Having Trouble with Meat, The Animal Husband, and The
Salt Daughter. She teaches English and poetry writing at Rutgers.

Betty Smith--A long time peace and justice activist, Betty Smith is the
president of International Publishers and a member of Astorians for Peace
and Justice (AFPJ). Betty will talk about AFPJ's upcoming work.

Russell Branca and Eliot Katz
will be performing a bass/poetry
collaboration. Jazz bassist and composer Russell Branca is the leader of
The Russell Branca Quartet and recently organized a Jazz Means Peace series
at Bowery Poetry Club. Eliot Katz is the author of Unlocking the Exits and
When the Skyline Crumbles: Poems for the Bush Years.

Waltz-Astoria Cafe
23-14 Ditmars Blvd,
Astoria (N or W to Ditmars Blvd.) (718-95-MUSIC)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


someone is kicking
the back of my seat

again in the flickering
theater, he rocks and rocks

as if it is all too boring
as if the measured words

and lace and difficult boots
rippling back and forth before us

on a piece of sheer cloth
the size of a house

the size of God’s tongue,
are nothing more than

an out-of-date newspaper
or an empty linen sagging

on the clothesline
on a gray day, an indoor day

he kicks and he kicks
the short someone
the little man with

angry thumbs and toes
and my back begins

to ache as if I am
a horse, a poor

pony on endless track,
a carnival circle around a circle,

endless children plopped
on my saddle as circus music

weeps from garish blue
instruments and a gold bell or two

the theater plays itself out
the actors say what they say

they speak about serious rocks,
chairs with broken spokes, cars
that go or won’t

they have guns or they
have drawers, there are women
in closets and men upstairs

and the little man goes
on and on until I lose

the thread of what
is being said

until all I’m doing
is waiting for the light

at the end, for the
sunrise or sunset

and for the curtain to
swoop down and

the hall lights to go up
I wait for the credits

with my aching back
and the constant, rock, rock,

I wait for it all to end but I
never think to turn
and just whisper stop


I’m doing a reading next Tuesday at Think Café (Details to follow) and I just bought some beautiful and cheeeeeep art. I got the Katarina and Manshroom.

I can’t wait to get them in the mail! Real prints for 20 dollars!

Monday, October 08, 2007

New Poem! Finally, I got some writing done. Comments?

Dream Analysis

I have come to the island again to visit my patient who deals pot and beats her children. She insists that we meet in her bedroom. A beautiful Japanese woman in very high heels comes in and takes our picture. For the camera, I stare soulfully at the oil painting of Micheal Jackson and Jesus above the headboard. My patient pulls the blinds in her window, now everything is striped with light. I ask my patient what she has been eating. She complains that she threw her back out on Tuesday carrying her babies to the grocery store. She lies down on the bed and folds her hands across her chest. She closes her eyes. I lift piles of magazines and dirty silk lingerie off a chair and sit down. We begin to snore in unison.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I've had a hard time finishing any poetry lately -- so this is a little finished.
Let me know what you think.

Waiting for the Tooth Fairy

perhaps she’s still there,
waiting by a window and
a green rotary phone,
a tattered doily across
the back of her stiff
chair, her white hair
in hard little curls
close to her cheeks,
her glasses cloudy
because she forgets to
wipe them on her orange
sweater sleeve, she forgets
sometimes, when she’s
staring out at the lawn,
waiting for something
with wings to fly down
and pull all the pink
out of the earth

Friday, September 28, 2007

Art Instead of Poetry

And why not?

Here's two pieces I made in photo shop using the same new painting.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm doing a reading with my lovely friend Cheryl Burke Tuesday (9/25) at Bluestockings bookstore on the Lower East Side (of Manhattan). I'll be reading my poetry -duh-- and Cheryl will be reading an excerpt from her fantastic memoir or her poetry -- both are great. The open mike starts at 7 and the reading will commence at 7:30. More about me:

Here's some directions:

Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington - which means that we are 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue.

By train: We are 1 block south of the F train's 2nd Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line's Essex / Delancey Street stop.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (aka Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.

You can also try their website:


And hey, also -- I'm doing a reading at the main library in Queens in December and they are PAYING me $150!!

I can't tell you how amazing that is. Oh, you're all poets, so you know how amazing it is. I'm going to have to find some "family friendly" poems for the reading, though!
This is a holiday card I've created:

I think the text can be interpreted in many ways. Perhaps God gets drunk on X-mas? Perhaps the man in the apartment above is lonely and hates the holidays... Who's to say?

Still very ill. I believe I'm getting worse. Passing out during my reading tomorrow would at least be memorable for the audience...

Sunday, September 23, 2007


In some parts of the world right now,
it is night, and where it is night,
women are going underground

women dig
women lay flat on their faces in pits
women find tunnels and make tunnels and

women avoid stiff tree roots
women wear hard and ugly yellow hats
women carry their tools over their shoulders
and in their pockets

women crawl down into wet caves
with ropes around their waists
women take off their heavy gloves
to brush at the dirt to delicately peel
the years away from the teeth from eye sockets
women whisk the dull gold rings the bracelets
with toothbrushes

women gently straighten
the rotten calico skirts
women tap at the sodden brown femurs
until they shift until they loosen from the wall

women slip tentative dirty fingers
under the damp petticoats
under the ripped slips
and the moldy underclothes and women
lift away the smeared envelopes
the soggy letters the words spilling
like glistening persimmon seeds
into underground puddles

women reach between the legs of the dead
women find old tongues new ways to fit
a language heavy and stained still
smelling of horse dung and honey


So I’ve been reading a lot of Adrienne Rich, and I have my “fight the power” baseball cap on (backwards). Is this poem too clichéd? Have you heard it all before?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I've got some new art cards for my etsy shop. I call them "despairing notes". Suitable for any emo chick or guy.

You can see the rest at my flickr account.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Understanding Your Soul

What kind of soul would you make
with white chalk on sky-blue paper?
It is easy to collect samples
of the soul on paper, on sheets of blue
or gray. What kind of soul
would you make with gray chalk on light gray paper?

Once you have assembled your figures,
you may circle the soul
that is most clearly your own.
Some people like to cut
pictures of their souls from magazines
and paste them on the ceiling.

Some souls may want to talk
to you. Their voices are high-pitched
and quiet, difficult to understand.
These souls can be easily fit
into glass jars with breathable lids.

You may find your own soul
strangely clinging to certain things:
the high-flown tails of horses,
your mother’s hair at breakfast,
the texture of mint leaves in your mouth.

Comments welcome, if you're feeling "soulful".
I'm doing a reading with my lovely friend Cheryl Burke next Tuesday at Bluestockings bookstore on the Lower East Side (of Manhattan). I'll be reading my poetry -duh-- and Cheryl will be reading an excerpt from her fantastic memoir or her poetry -- both are great. The open mike starts at 7 and the reading will commence at 7:30.

Here's some directions:

Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington - which means that we are 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue.

By train: We are 1 block south of the F train's 2nd Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line's Essex / Delancey Street stop.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (aka Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.

You can also try their website:

Monday, September 17, 2007

(and another postcard I made)

What Happens If

What happens if the blue test tube cracks in her fist? Is she wearing a narrow red skirt under her lab coat? Can they run barefoot? Will she lose her glasses, or will they dangle from one ear? How many languages can she whisper in? Will the explosion fling her to the ceiling, and will she find the violet crystal there? Will her braids come loose?

Will she lose her eyelashes in the bright tumble of the Bunsen burner? Will the voodoo doll ever be discovered behind the table of the elements? Will the radioactive grass overcome them? Will she recognize the complex equations written in chalk across her back? Will she understand the escape route, the simple chart of red arrows, taped to the back of the cloak room door?
blonde maria

acrylic and pen on paper, some digital

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Metaphor's Lament

I have held a heart close to my nose.  It smelled of cold and fungicide.  So tough, my scapel slipped instead of slicing: I screamed like a girl in disgust and frustration.  Inside it had holes and more rot.  It was slippery, heavy -- I became dizzy.  I saw the toads splayed and skinned, pinned to the wall, beckoning to me, the red pin heads bobbing.  I wiped my palms on my blouse, my back pack, the paper towels.  My lab partner refused to look at me, spent the whole class in the corner with his girlfriend, trying to wend his fingers through the slit in her stone-washed skirt.


I'm not sure about that first line -- I keep going back between "I have held" and "I held".

Friday, September 07, 2007

First week of classes is over! I survived. My classes seem great this semester -- Dickinson and Whitman, Gay and Lesbian Lit, and an independent study of Bishop. I am most looking forward to Bishop; every week, I get to do a close reading of three poems and discuss them with a Bishop scholar. Whee!

Teaching is going to be interesting -- my class is very small -- about ten.

Here's a draft of a poem:


the creek tastes
I thought it would

water quiet, barely
a sound
full of pebbles, mica flickers

flies gather in my shoes

mosquitoes enter
the crack of my armpit

my toes underwater
pale as soggy worms

a flutter
a thrush
feathered musical

a question over and over

I frighten
them all with my large yellow

the robin above
kicks and flicks further

soft as
honey soft as
sleeping bears

gather, gather
the sparrows call
to each other

like children
whispering about a dog
Is she friendly?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today I started feeling better. I had moments of feeling well, in between the three hours naps. I think my fever is mostly gone.

Here's a poem:

Breath in Russian Is

we had practiced every kind of sadness for so long
that the Russians were glad
to see us off at the bus station, though we
had brought tampons and promised
to mail their letters

I smuggled flags and small books
in my underwear but the border guards
in their indifference
didn’t even check my backpack

you slept all the way
back to Finland
rubles tucked in your socks
your breath making faint clouds
on the window glass
that disappeared, appeared
like the slow beat of a failing heart

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Houdini’s Sister

There’s always the girl who understands locks and a bone-toothed comb, the one who crawls under the table, crams into the mouse hole, the one who gives the witch the wrong directions. There’s always the girl who knows the language of rabbits and convinces one to let her ride astride, the girl who can live on breadcrumbs and fog, who clings to the giant’s boot until he gets tired of stumbling around the kitchen, looking for a cooking pot, and falls asleep. There’s always one left, the one who cuts off her hair to make a rope (if that’s what it takes), the one who talks the blue-bellied salmon into carrying her across the river, the one who takes the diamonds of her tears and sells them for a good pair of boots.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This is just a draft -- I've got kind of a fever and my head is swimming -- this might make sense if you felt the same way.


she can tell when it’s coming
a damp aura surrounds her
in the tomato garden
or on the front lawn
as she sits and picks at her toenails
silently cursing the postman for
being so late, always so late

the bees gather in her hair
just behind her ears
they murmer louder, louder
a great warm motor of buzz

she stopped being afraid of them
after she got married
she’d call her husband,
Frank, get them, get them
and he’d lift a broom
and sweep the air around her head

during the divorce he confessed
he saw nothing
and grew tired of all the animals
that came to her dreams and woke him up

the sparrows perch about her hips
like a soft sighing belt
all coos and settling, resettling, wings

after the birds begin to peck at the bees it happens,
deep in the boat of the sky, the sun opens up
a cloud like a burning book:
the Virgin reaches down to hold her hand
and weep

Is the end too corny?

Friday, August 24, 2007

I took this photo during a short break in a heavy rainstorm.

Also, here's a draft of a poem. Let me know if you can tell where the "action" takes place. Perhaps some of you have actually been there. Or here.

Learning about Mammals

underneath the stairs
the whale grapples with the squid
nothing protects the children from the diorama
the lip of the exhibit comes up
to their knees they step in when
the teacher’s fussing at Greg
and Sheila

on the other side
shake out their pant legs
scratch their scalps
hide in the darkest parts
under the floating animals
dusty mouths the size
of school desks

look at me, he says to her
touching the cool whale belly,
touching his own nose

Monday, August 20, 2007

Birds and Bees.

New painting.

I didn't quite get the overlap right in this one --the bird adds too much confusion around the face.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


How to Use Your Cup

Is it empty?
Is it full?

These are questions you must answer yourself.

Is it big enough to fit in both your hands?
Is the rim damaged, will it hurt

to put your lips to it?

What does it remind you of?

Perhaps you have tasted something similar.
Perhaps you are in for something new.
Ask your mother if it is safe.

What color do you see there,
what texture?

Ask your parents about the cups
they grew up with.

In years past, people used their thumbs
to measure the temperature in their cups.

When you put your ear to it, what do you hear?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ink into Skin

the security guards at the airport
are all whispering about my tattoo
they ask me how long it took,
if it’s new, if it’s finished

at each security checkpoint
as I slip off my shoes,
my belt, as I unbotton
my blouse and lay back
on the conveyor belt,

they open my chest
and ask me about the bite
marks on the inside
of my ribcage, still

obsessed with my tattoo,
where did I get the idea,
in what city did it occur

they lift their pant legs,
their hems, to show me
their own tattoos --
hairy dragons curling up calves,
butterflies clinging to biceps

they sink their fingers into
the curl of my intestines,
divining my future, they pull
everything out, set it down gently
in the plastic trays

and tell me how beautiful it is,
my tattoo, how it looks like
a real knife and how it
calls to them, each of them,
with a thready, tender song

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coming to Terms with Your Deities
(some text taken from Science in Your Own Backyard, 1958)

Have you ever touched one?  
Chances are that you have.

Did you notice what they looked like,
pressed up against your window?

Blankets spread out between you and the earth.

Bright petals that move without a breeze.

Deities change from one shape to another:
a colonial gentleman
a cocked hat
a crouching lion
a wrecked castle

High up in the air, they appear so soft and fluffy.

Keep a record of the kinds you see each day,
write the names and the number of legs.

You will soon discover a relationship between
the dawn and your deities.

Scientists agree, deities create the atmosophere
in small underground holes.

Have you ever had the delightful experience
of lying on your back?
How did a deity learn to make such a perfect thing?

Are they of any use to us?

They have no backbone.

So many people are afraid of their deities.


Okay, the question is this: if you go to my brand new and improved website,, do you like what you see?
Be harsh. Is it pretty, or just difficult to follow?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hah. You thought I'd given up writing, huh?
Blackie’s Story

My husband speaks to the dead. Yesterday, our old cat Blackie visited him in the bathroom and described a plane ride in our future. It will be a long trip, according to Blackie, and the plane will stop and hover, making sounds like a little boy being a helicopter. Nevertheless, we are not to worry. We will land some place warm where plants grow out of building cornices, swoop down and steal your hat or maybe your shoes. I was too busy trying to feed the ghost of my brother to hear the whole thing -- he was demanding eggs, and the rotten ham sandwich I had buried at the bottom of the garbage. My brother is so hungry, but he can’t quite get the food to his mouth. His hands are broken or absent, he was trying to tell me.

Also, a rather painfully honest interview here: kickingwind.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Like a good little capitalist I've churned out more cards and magnets, enough to make a stationary set! (But you can perhaps argue with the "good" and "little" in the previous sentence.)

You can BUY them, or just look at them, here:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yeah, I haven't felt like posting any writing for a while. But I have new pictures! I'm going to sell these on my etsy store, starting tomorrow -- in the form of postcards, note cards, and magnets.

See more at my flickr account.

And then, also, there's this t-shirt:

Thursday, August 02, 2007




Jane’s Dream

A woman is trying to get me off her lawn. Her black beehive wig towers over me, a hostile ice cream cone. She tried shutting the gate, but I am already on the inside. We don’t want your kind here, she hisses. I have a message for your daughter, I say, warding off the blows of her pocketbook, my hands bloody. In the top story window, a hairless girl watches me. She chews slowly on the lace curtain. I don’t have a daughter, the woman shouts again. I know the girl is watching me, waiting to see what I’ll do next.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Pregnant Friend

My pregnant friend believes she should go first in line. My pregnant friend believes that hair dye will hurt her baby. My pregnant friend is sad about her roots. My pregnant friend has inexplicable pains that last only ten minutes. Nonetheless, My pregnant friend can't go out that night. My pregnant friend wonders why she is not gaining weight. My pregnant friend likes to talk about her morning sickness: the duration, the color, the quality. My pregnant friend can't get her nails done. My pregnant friend cries alone in taxis. My pregnant friend needs more time outdoors. My pregnant friend suffers from new allergies. My pregnant friend has a hard time picking out baby clothes. My pregnant friend doesn't appreciate gifts from strangers. My pregnant friend is thinking of leaving her husband. My pregnant friend doesn't. My pregnant friend holds my hand sometimes, and pats me on the head. My pregnant friend can't decide between the light green and the light yellow cribs with big metal wheels. My pregnant friend doesn't actually like children. My pregnant friend is sorry for me, but she's sure it will work itself out, eventually.


And... my poem, if you would like to know about the movie just got nominated for the "Best of the Web" by Blue Fifth Review. This is, like, waaay better than a Pushcart Prize nomination. At least to me.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Review!

Children Having Trouble with Meat got reviewed at Montserrat Review!

I was told it was going to happen, but I wasn't sure when. I can't stop smiling. Mary Morris called me "a master of metaphor."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What the Insects are Dreaming of

The caterpillar is dreaming of his methadone counselor:
see how his legs twitch as he pictures their argument.

The pill beetle is dreaming of a forest of pill beetles,
all sizes, in the carpet of a hotel room.

The roach is dreaming of an argument with his wife.

The daddy-long legs is dreaming about when he tripped
on the front lawn in high school. As he sleeps, he covers his
face with his legs, trying to hide again.

The spider is dreaming that a gallery in Chelsea
agreed to show his paintings, the earlier, abstract ones.
He is smiling so hard he wakes himself up.

The stink beetle is dreaming of sinking into
a rose. He struggles for purchase with his
tiny hooked feet, but slides further and further
into the pink muck.

The flea is dreaming of cooked vegetables,
specifically, baked potatoes with garlic butter.
With his eyes closed, he claws slowly at his chin
to wipe off the grease.

The praying mantis is dreaming of her last husband,
how he took their daughter to the park and threw
her into the air, again and again. Make me fly,
Make me fly,
she had whispered, frantic with joy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Here's the poem I almost died delivering last night at PVC:

Superman: A Murder

They wait a long time: the fifty women he saved, now growing old, still single, still wearing low-heeled rubber shoes and blouses with bows at the neck. They still only let down their hair at night, when they are in front of their lonely mirrors, they still leave their bedroom windows open just in case.

Eventually, their fingers get tired of the innocent sewing, the braiding and unbraiding, the window latch that always catches and bites. They get tired of waiting. The modest off-white blouses are the first to go – end up in landfills, in beach flotsam, in someone else’s umbrella. The shoes are abandoned in a park, in a movie theater, in the condiment isle at the supermarket. Their hair is cut short – bleached and bobbed and sprayed, stiff and sharp.

They start to leave messages for one another – blared from the megaphone of a circling truck, taped to telephone poles. They meet on roofs, in broom closets, on top of traffic lights. They start to plan. They sew a net, big enough, strong enough, and all of it, dazzling, spring-green kryptonite.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Waiting Room
"The waiting room
was full of grown-up people"
Elizabeth Bishop

outside, my mother
is waiting with my brother
I know him, erratic, unsteady,
high-pitched: he is flinging
the simple plastic toys into
the air, my mother is trying
not to scream, she speaks in
a loud whisper

my brother is running
to the wall, running back
the other mothers
pull their children
onto their laps
the receptionist smiles as if
her ears are hurting

inside, the doctor is doing
something I wish he wouldn't
without gloves, without a nurse
he smiles as if he has found
a five dollar bill in an empty

after this, I will go home
and keep quiet while my brother
pounds a hole in the kitchen
wall with his head

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I bought the Harry Potter last night at Midnight. I was second in line.



Friday, July 20, 2007

Reading Next Week

I'm performing at Poetry vs. Comedy next week: 8PM at the Bowery Poetry Club.
It's usually a complete blast, much more funny stuff than serious stuff. I'm reading some new poems -- never before seen by human eyes (unless you consider my eyes, but I'm only half-human).


EMCEE: Carolyn Castiglia -- so funny you could just die (and might)

Liz Miele -- Profiled as a comedienne by the New Yorker
Greg Walloch -- been on all sorts TV shows with Ben Stiller
Sven Wechsler -- performed all over NYC, also on TV

Christine Hamm -- published some poetry
Livia Scott (as Anthony Moscowitz)-- has been on Late Night With Conan O'Brien
Kathleen Warnock -- award-winning playwright

MUSICAL GUESTS: Manson Family Singers

What They Say About PVC:

"tonight it is ok to laugh at the poets... At the Poetry Vs. Comedy Variety Show poets rage against comedians in a battle of wits."

"another celebratory night of the hottest talents on the downtown comedy scene."


Hope you can make it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vistaprint tells me I'm special! I get everything for free! So I keep making more and more products.

This one is the back of my new business card, and on a big postcard with a poem on the other side.

There's also a headless version.

And the rose one is going to be a magnet.

(I have a big report due on Bishop -- that's why I'm procrastinatin'.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Finally, a poem. (That sounded a little emo, I think.)

In The Airplane

It’s like waiting to be born,
waiting for the deep hook of the air
to come pierce our chests,
fling us up into the mechanical sky
with its constant dull ding
and shades that open and close,
close and open, like the blink
of a great sleepy eye.

I’m not sure I want to sit so close
to you, stranger, but you’re showing me
me photos of the flood in your backyard,
the Big Wheel and basketball sunk in the mud,
and your stiff blond hair pokes my shoulder
as if to say, pay attention.

They’re de-icing our wings with pink froth
while you tell me about the Iranian boys
you hosted, how they read so silently
in their borrowed rooms, their perfect
dark little hands always hidden --

your soft voice the drone of an angel,
once she has given up and gone to earth.

Yes, Virginia, Shakespeare really does hate your emo poems

I went to the Queer Blogger Weenie Roast yesterday, and met so many nice people! I swear, everyone was so pleasant and talkative, it was like I left NYC for a moment. Here's a pic of me borrowed from Curly,

and a pic of me and Cheryl B. just to show how incredibly glam she is at all times, even in 90 degree sweltering heat with dripping cuties everywhere and barbeque wafting this way and that.

Photo from Curly McDimple. Again. In this photo, I'm the 70 year old with the blonde wig.

So, Bird on a Wire (sorry for not using anyone's real name -- I can remember NOTHING but maybe finally getting my cheeseburger after nearly dying of hunger -- everything else is a little flicker) made a list of all the bloggers who were there yesterday, and I personally spoke to Curly McDimple (who made me afraid for my feet), Chris Hampton (whose name is way too much like mine -- she might be my funnier doppelganger), Zebah (who was really funny and is a cheerleader -- those girls really are ALWAYS perfect) and then Zaedryn (who I've seen read a few times at PVC and always brings the audience to tears of joy, and breathlessness, etc -- kinda the opposite of the audience's reaction to me, where everyone gets a little sick and uneasy [not another poem about beastly cannibals, stop!]).

Anyway. It was great. (Linking's hard work, yo! I think I need a diet sprite now. Usually I just post to myself.)

Like this: come to my next reading at PVC! Bowery Poetry Club, 8PM next Wednesday, the 25th! It'll be rad! I'll be reading stuff that has never before been seen by human eyes: cause we know my eyes are only half-human. Also, I'll be quick so we can get to the funny people after me!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I haven't been writing all that much, because I'm been drawing and designing stuff. I put together an oversized postcard with a poem on the back -- I'm going to sell it at readings and maybe on etsy for a few bucks. It has the poem, A Tender Age, on the back.

And here's a small magnet I also made:

Which one do you like better? And what do you think is a good price for the magnets? 50 cents each?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New narrative poem. Can't get away from them these days. T-shirt didn't win -- in fact it scored a 1.6 overall and got kicked out of the running early. Bastards. But they get about 1000 submissions a day, so it didn't have a great chance.

but Thanks for Voting! Those of you lovely yous who did.

The Building

the walls are so thin
it trembles sometimes
when there’s loud celebrations
or when heavy trucks pass by

there are some moments
when my thumb has just clicked off
a fan, when the refrigerator pauses
in its inward, autistic mumbling,
the TV’s mute,

and the sky’s full of the absence of jets,
just air, pure invisible darting atoms
of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen,
oxygen and the tiny bits

of ourselves
we leave when we move,
the transparent cells and scents
we shed as we part the world
in front of us

and during those moments
I can hear all the women in my building,
all the women whose names I don’t know,
the one two doors down whose head
barely reaches my chin, face pocked
like a sign used for target practice

the one with magnificent dyed red hair
and massive solid thighs, the one
who’s so young and pretty she needs
to wear dark glasses every time she goes outside,

the one who never stops smiling and still
gets high every night, even though she
just had her first baby and the woman I’ve never
seen who lives right next door

at moments like these I can hear her
talking on the phone, as clearly as if
she’s in my kitchen, opening a bag
of potato chips, searching my roach-stained
cupboards (there’s the whine of the big hinge,
the snap of the close) for a good onion dip

and she’s laughing as she talks, probably
picking up a half-drunk mug of green tea
here off the nightstand in her own bedroom,
setting it down there on a bookcase,
opening up her closet to see what
skirts tomorrow has in store for her,

and sometimes I stand very close
to the ragged, shedding wall, wishing
I could hear her better, even though
I know she’s speaking
in another tongue

Is this confusing? Can you tell I switch from imagining her inside my kitchen to imagining her inside her own bedroom? Is the list of women too confusing? Am I confused? Confused I am?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Please vote for my tshirt!

Here's the link:

sandwich vs. poem - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Yes, you have to register but it's quick. Please vote! I'm getting creamed!

Also, if I win, they will sell my shirt for considerably less than at my cafepress shop, so everyone's a winner. 'Specially me, since I get money if I win and then I can continue to feed my cats.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New painting!

Here it is, slightly digitally enhanced. I made it today! Start to finish. I think I'm going to sell it on Etsy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ward C

the underwater dining hall
the color of disturbed clouds

chainlink fence mom waves
goodbye on the other side

a tired red-haired woman
lids like creamy boiled eggs
thumbs something under my tongue

all the windows are skewed sometimes
they fall off and shatter
my daughter had red hair like mine
we cut it after it caught
in the chain of the swing

Friday, June 29, 2007

I just finished some new, poetry-related t-shirts on my cafe press website. Lookie:

In the timeless battle of poem vs. sandwich, who wins?

This one says "my mother is possessed by weasels" in script, if you can't read it.

Needs no explanation.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Mermaid of September Cove

Shelia worked the tank at the end
of the bar until, after her 38th birthday,
she took up smoking and ran out
of air (the plastic tubes hidden
in the rocks no longer enough)

but for years she could never get enough
of the water, how her hair rippled out
like a dark blank flag when she twisted
around her giant plastic clam, how
her skin stopped feeling like skin by
the second hour, became an empty
skein of silk

she learned, better than all the other girls,
how to cross her feet inside the glistening
sequined tail and pump with her thighs
like she was standing on bike pedals,
so she shot across the sandy bottom,
stirring the indigo pebbles and dyed green
shells, making them flip and shimmer
in the heavy water

for the five dollars tucked in their fathers’
back pockets, little boys could slip
under the railing, get close to the glass

if they stood very still, lips not even moving,
Sheila would give them what they wanted,
would come up to the transparent wall,
extend her bluish hand until she was palm
to palm with the stunned boy

it was something, she knew, he would remember
the first time a girl agreed to be naked
in front of him, something so astonishing and
weird, he’d forget to breathe,

forget, even, to open his eyes

Too wordy? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.
I bought a new cat carrying case this afternoon, and I had to carry it all through New Jersey, New York and Queens. A really perverse part of me wanted to pretend I had an invisible cat. People kept peering into the case. I just managed to control the impulse to squeak in a baby voice to my imaginary cat “Mr. Quibbles” and stick my fingers through the wire to touch his transparent nose.

Hide and Seek

girls’ slips get caught on windowsills cheeks and elbows shine in the dim yard whispers carry all the way to the attic their scent (all lavender confusion) carries downwind they hide in plain sight under the front porch behind the rose bush in the apple tree they beg to be found bite their wet tongues in anticipation of the tickle the pinching they swoon from boredom sitting still dying lightening bugs fill their ponytails miniature spiders lodge in their hems inchworms coax shivers down their shoulders the sun slings low as they set their chins on folded arms and sigh

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gilligan, His Island

the last lemon shrinks
by the light of the Tiki fire
between torches stuck in sand
rough hewn table, palm trees
and coconuts

we learn to make do
your red shirt never rips
you never sunburn

your white hat like a little
beacon of surrender
in the woods you
are a constant polka dot

your hammock leaves diamond
marks on your legs
you wake often and fall
but nothing ever breaks
no tooth, no phonograph

every day exactly
like the tour before

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Secret Lives of Women

You have to go through
a river to get to it

she can tell the colors
of yarn just by touching them

on the water slide she learns
something new

the pavement outside the courthouse
is smeared with three colors of lipstick

in the Belgian fashion district,
the croissants taste like
their fathers’ boots

Grandma knows something
unusual is going on, but only
whispers into her palm

the rainbow at the rim
of the glass
dangles from their fingertips

in the remake of this movie,
we see the sky is actually
getting lighter

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Father’s Ghost Visits me on Christmas Day

Although he still lives across the dull glowing country,
making my mother languish with his gifts of heavy jewelery,
his thumbprints bruised onto her ankles.

I had the whole the day spread out in front of me like
a morning smorgasbord at a red-tipped restaurant,
drunk with space and ignored obligations,
decked out in soft starred pajamas, eating canned peaches
with my fingers, on my second cup of bedside champagne.

I haven’t seen him for two years and he’s bluer around
his hairline, mouth twisted and pale. His suit jacket,
indigo, stained, hangs off his shoulders like it was made
for a much bigger man. He wants me to say something
to him, I know, so I reach across the bed and turn on

the radio, try to find something unseasonal and blaring
until jazz coats the air with bright yellow hisses. He’s
still there, doesn’t move or turn his head, just looks
thirsty and wistful, as if he wished there were something

I might give him. In a moment I will be after him
with a broom, rush him out the window, but for now
I just let him simmer in the empty air, learning
what it feels like to know you will get nothing from
someone who has their hands full of sweetness and gold.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tired and excited. I stayed up all night redoing my "Saint of Lost Causes" manuscript, and I think I've got it in a really nice order. It reads a bit like a novel; starts with the birth of one character, through her childhood, into her adult life where she struggles to get pregnant. Then it follows the birth of her daughter and their relationship, her daughter's childhood, then evolves into a focus on the daughter's mental illness/saintly visions. That's the first section, titled "Saints". The second section is entitled "Cannibals" and explores various fairy tales, with a strong focus on Hansel and Gretel. I just have to put the table of contents together and I'm done. Boy, I swear I never want to read another poem of mine. I'm so sick of looking at all those little poems. I'm going to send the manuscript to Ausable Press. I have about 5 days to mail it!

Also, I went to a Purple Party (hosted by the fab Colleen):

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I updated my Etsy shop with some supercheap but spectacular cards and books!

Wings gleaming
like the slick oiled
lids of a woman’s eyes
in an empty bar.
Everyone and
no one at once.

If you stand still
enough in the sun
it will come,
vain brother to the
crow, blue simmer
of feathers,
landing oh so delicately
to grasp at your
spread thumb
and peck
whatever you
offer from your palm.

Friday, June 15, 2007


in the homeless shelter where we worked
everyone always confused our names
we were both white blonde
both a little distant with a milky film
over our blue eyes

every day we took each other to lunch
and you ate from both plates
cursing me for ordering so much rich meat
while I looked out the window and wrote
poems in my head

you were the first one to offer your breast
to that machine that ground and squeezed
after they took out the lump
you wanted me to see the hole

in the bathroom
I didn’t want to look but you
pulled down your blouse anyway
so I stared at your mouth, greenish
our angry bruise

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

One Half LA: Part 1

Somewhere in this sinking there’s a map.
your sunscreen and rubber bands drown

the remaining monarchs. hardens and sheds,
scatters from windows, regroups in migraine

points. grow, whiten, sleep. overlap, increase,
threaten the highways. breaks open, weeping

blue sores swimming with reddened women.
always burning somewhere. too bright to do

anything but lay back and sigh. hotel windows,
poor mirrors, etch letters from a dream language

on the writing desk. hidden under his tan Spanish
carpet. all the flesh colors on his pillows. empty

or sleeping. overcome by their weekend sunburns.
shrivel and hold still. entitled to your own fountain.
covered with white birds, choked with ashes.

Peeps who want their Vispo card, send me your address! Last chance: inktastesbitter (at)
So I’m back. I had a good time. I enjoyed Disneyland until all the gender role crap piled up and collapsed on me. But they’re right. Disneyland is like a dream, so clean and neat and green and full of food and happy families. At least in the morning, before everyone gets tired and the screaming and hitting starts. It’s not my dream; it’s someone else’s dream, so it’s a little surreal to move through.

I went to the Haunted House! Ahh, memories. But the mechanisms in the animatronics are too noisy now. Still good use of dry ice, though.

I got along very well with Mario (my husband) leaving the door open for further trips together. I hope. LA was chilly but had very nice light and I observed several things:

In LA, you are forbidden to have food or talk.

In LA, there are palm trees:

Also, certain buildings:

I have (some) free time before summer school starts and I start teaching again, so I’m trying to go through my old notebooks and type up the poetry that never made it to the computer. Here is one. Comments are welcomed. Throw rotten vegetables if necessary.

For Dark Samantha

she’s underwater again grey skin glimmering
in my clogged sink kelp floats across her face
the moon bubbles from her mouth

where she swims the sound is slow
there are no sinks the sea roars
constantly in the cellars the birds
all talk endlessly and never land
everything without wings is finned

when she sings crows carry
the moon to the surface
my bathroom fills with
the green light of drowned pilots

last night I saw a new man
in my living room gears whirling
behind his ears
he combed his hair back over his bald spot
sighed and disappeared

( I got straight A’s this semester. Almost makes up for the yanked Shakespeare prize.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What to do While I'm in the Hospital

Lower your voice.
Remember, Emergency Contacts
are stored under your tongue.
Please put the soup in the stove and
set the baby on fire. You will find
matches in my purse. You may
pick up your check and let
yourself out when you are done
with the frozen pigs. Please
have a mint chocolate on me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Tender Age

in this corner, a dog is screaming

he is calling your name
Oliver, Oliver

you have better things to do

you in your urchin shirt
rusty shoes, hat full
of night and spiders

you sneak the hubcaps
off dead men’s eyes

you borrow morning
ransom it for some
chilled red soup

you tuck bracelets, brooches,
feathered hat pins in your pockets

they clank an odd song when you run
they rub together like bones in your thin
shoulder joint

no meat
no meat
for the strangers’ mouths

for the dog still barking

for the profiles made of metal and gems

when the street lights pop on
so many bad ideas over so many
dusty, perfumed heads

you are just getting started
your business hawking pocket watches
stealing time
and other boys’ tender teeth

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Painted Wooden Leg

outside Eureka in a cheap corral with a fifteen-foot chain
link fence a retired insurance salesman raises tigers

he lets Cindy rub her cheeks in the eggy fur of the cubs'
bellies feed them milk and soaked toast from her defenseless

thumb the girl holds a cub outside the tigers' cage
the mother's paw (smell of a garbage scow) can only reach

so far through the wires the dumb cub its mother chirp
like broken machines their faces smeared with petroleum

jelly glow with a dull dirty sheen Cindy wipes and wipes
at tiny eyes at 2am her father fighting dream claws

in the damp bedroom Cindy scales the fence balances
on top her small slipping sneakers squeak the tigers

circle underneath yawn stretch fall collapse
in heaps scratch their spines against the meaty straw

their tender white bellies call inviting

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Frankenstein’s Bride

he is in me
they are in me
hands machines

copper wire threads up my uterus

they peel back the dermis
peel back the fascia the muscle staple the layers
under my breasts to hold them in place

my grandfather’s tractor drags rotating disks
plows my liver my bladder

they shoot rays into me
they picture my bones irradiate my blood

myself on the screens above
white hieroglyphs on blue paper
I shudder in pixels

I am shorn the razors are my warm metal friends
my legs
my cunt my upper lip

they raise my ovaries with chopsticks
white as sleeping faces they carve smiles into
slick pale viscera

two thousand
dead fireflies electrified they blow on my womb
foul rat breath try to start a fire

they have lost something here
they will find him the intern has disappeared
sculptors of blood and bile and circuits they will carve him out of me

under my tongue they sew a socket
AC/DC flows down my collar bones
my vertebra
I cough a ghost’s name
her name they ask my husband to come in
and hold me down
Rewrite of an earlier one. Probably can't recognize it.

the saber-toothed prison menu

rare wild spotted sharp cries scamper like spiders
blades of quivering dehydrated wild trunks
clots of rotting honey addicts
up to and including Dr. Geertzmantal
the Swedish botanist accidentally insists
the name comes from its paws
the Latin road, filled with wooden pitfalls and escapes,
endears it to the dust allergies and large plants’ fears
rumors, a hallucinatory poison, substantiate the fig-flavored tongue

Monday, May 21, 2007

My chapbook, Children Having Trouble with Meat, is now available!

From the introduction by Jack Anders: Christine Hamm’s chapbook,
“Children Having Trouble with Meat” shows an admirable ability to balance metaphorical intensity while keeping focus on a clearly stated theme. The poems display a sensibility to food, and eating, and the existential implications of both, in a way which is both a contemporary commentary on eating disorders, and a delicate allusion to myths of eating and being.

Christine Hamm is getting her PhD in English and was a runner-up for the Queens Poet Laureate. This work, her third chapbook, was chosen by Jenni Russell out of a hundred entries to MiPoesias. In 2006, Mayapple Press published Christine's full-length poetry book, The Transparent Dinner. Christine likes a well-done flank steak every once and a while.

Sample from the book:

Qualities of Sugar

it is white and sometimes it is brown

on the kitchen floor it attracts ants

sometimes in the bag during the summer
if it's kept low down on the bottom shelf
you will encounter little black maggots,
already dead, when you open the flap

when you try to wipe it off on your shorts
it clings to your hands and folds into rolls of dirty
white grit in the creases of your palms

it doesn't feel very good if you just put
a tablespoon on your tongue
it can choke you, going down
and then you need some pepsi

your dentist gives you lollipops, which have sugar

when you try to lift the whole bag
by yourself and it rips and spills
into a tiny beach just for dolls
then your mother will be disappointed
it can make her sigh

you often add it on top of bread or cheese
to see if they will taste better

when it is frozen in the form of a green popsicle
you and your brother will hit each other
in the face to get it first

when you mix it with water in a clear glass
it moves about a bit
and disappears

sometimes at night it's all that's left and it's enough
to keep you busy a short while until you realize
the house is empty
and you begin to howl

And the first ten people who buy a book (and email me with your address, at get this on 8.5" x 4.5" card stock:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I've been sick and busy, and sick of being busy, still with the three ginormous papers hanging over my head, reaching down occasionaly to slap me on the side of my head, near the ear, where it hurts.

Here's a little thing:

Excerpted from an Encyclopedia of Nocturnal Marsupials

This tiny bearole (in the photo, no larger than a child’s wooden leg) is difficult to take on walks. Excessively restless, it often jumps out of its stall. Bars can sometimes limit the activities of this tiny animal. Sometimes the beast can be tied down. Urban dwellers prefer the tiny marsupials that are produced in plastic factories. Often manufactured without head or limbs, these beasts are quite docile. All the marsupials are available in different skin tones.

Bearoles are rarely seen in the wild. When spotted, they tend to make short sharp cries and scamper like spiders over blades of quivering grass. On at least two occasions, weak and dehydrated wild bearoles have been found stuck to a tree trunk by clots of rotting honey. This tiny beast is addicted to honey, up to and including its sticky death. For this reason, Dr. Geertzmantal, the Swedish botanist who accidentally discovered the bearole, was thought to have named the tiny animal after a bear, although some ethnographers insist the name comes from its enormous bear-like paws. The road to obtaining an official Latin name is a long one -- filled with pitfalls and hurdles. The bearole’s constant escapes have not endeared it to the Latin name-makers, with their dust allergies and fear of large plants. Rumors that the bearole tongue delivers a hallucinatory poison have never been substantiated.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Um... (tastes like chicken)

This is vaguely inspired by current events. Looking for parts that can be cut, if you want to be helpful.

The Queen

She is ringing our doorbell, clucking in ponderous consternation
She is wearing bare feet and she is larger than life-sized
She is gesturing so fast her arms make a whirring noise, like a broken zippo or a frustrated chicken
She is a moment frozen in the river or in the space heater of winter
She is standing on a pedestal of chicken bones and library chairs
She is adjusting her heavy black robes, like the bones of sad chickens
She is speaking for us all, but especially for the little birds at her bare feet
She is pulling a face like a mask made of construction paper
She is peering into the mirror, turning her head from side to side
She is scratching her heels to and fro

She is taking down midtown
She is flying, she is trying to fly, she is flying off the empire because her keepers have forgotten to clip her wings
She is plucking the gray hairs from the backs of her big hands
She is plucking the tiny tourists from the backs of the double-deckers
She is making the crowd scatter and shriek before her, like a fox walking upright (with bare feet) in a henhouse
She is flowing down the east river like a frozen egg in a river
She is standing on our door step but we hide behind the curtains, yes, like chickens

Sunday, May 06, 2007

They did the ceremony on Friday for the poet laureate of Queens and it was really nice! I got a shiny white and gold certificate that stated I had "a unique poetic style". Nobody else's certificate said that. I'm special! (And I'll beat you if you disagree.) I had a wonderful time and got to meet some really great poets (who were also runner-ups). I sat next to David Mills, who is insanely talented and award winning. But the actual poet laureate was even more insanely talented and award-deserving, Julio Marzan. He's published everything everywhere, taught Harvard etc, and generally made the rest of us feel like amateurs. There's no complaining that the selection process was unfair: he definitely deserved it.

And not everyone was against me being vice-princess of Queens, with a tiara and wand. Of course, I only expressed the idea to a few people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


girl wolf thin white fingers entwined in stinking fur
flashes of some… color (he’s colorblind he can’t make
it out) a large fluttering surface whipping in the wind
(or the wind she makes by running) whipping like a tail
(a tail) like a shadowy flag a coat of arms a bundle of bones
a collection of grandmamma moans fur sprouts faceward
her teeth root down deeper his teeth root down deeper
white gleams underneath the hood tied under the chin
(sharp as a knife white as a tooth) tied to a tree
the fleas don’t bother her the pink welts small and sexy
tiny nipples all over her throat her basket spills down the path
he lays down before her belly up waiting for a scratch

Monday, April 30, 2007

Claire Asleep

the smell of sun-warmed summer grass
her fingers are so big, the fingernails finally clean
her feet have stopped hurting

a long white table, white as the sky
no ceiling or walls
the women wear white robes
they’re eating meat with their hands

Claire’s allowed to eat, too,
since the animals reappear behind her chair
not just remade whole, but reborn into ecstasy

the cows snort and roll in the pale grass
their plump beige bellies, their joyous udders
wiggle and point at the sky
on the golden sand
they scratch their backs, this side, then that

they sit up and shake their whole skin
with a shudder, a deep contented sigh
and call to the other grazing animals
the deer, horses and sheep
with the clear
notes of a cello

the women have bloody mouths
Claire included but
the blood turns to honey
they wipe their lips
with the backs of their hands
and they suck the sweetness
from each other’s fingers
without giggling

it’s Claire’s dream
so it ends happy
with the women weaving white flowers
into the manes of smiling palominos
and whispering tips to each other
about how to avoid chipped nails
grow bright blue feathers down the spine
and get blood out of cotton
Breaking news:

I got honorable mention in the search for the Queens Poet Laureate.

Yeah! I get to read a poem in front of the media during the ceremony on Friday.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Again, more of a draft than anything...

Claire’s Book About Saints

last week her mother tried to take it away
after Claire carpeted the kitchen
with broken milk glasses
and walked barefoot
trying to rid herself of those thoughts:

the visions of the spotted dogs
how they sigh and sit on her lap
all warm fur and sexy dog breath
their tongues on her neck
as if she were covered in honey

the devil, she has read, is mysterious
she knows he means to trick her
with this affection, this cloud of pleasure

St. Dorothy, the book tells her,
was tempted by a talking cherry tree,
walked on water after she cut off her breasts
with a seamstress’s scissors

St. Catherine got stuck on a carnival wheel
after 200 rounds the Virgin appeared
led her up the golden stairs
while her broken body whirled below

St. Rachel decided the devil spoke in pastries
lived for a hundred days on only goat’s milk
near the end roses bloomed on her wrists, her ankles
in Spain a little chapel keeps the sheets from her bed
women who want to be thin kiss the stitching

Claire wonders why it has to hurt so much
the shining birds with their sharp beaks
how the Virgin appears in a ball of light
so bright Claire cringes
even the irises’ perfume makes her nauseous, sometimes

and the dogs’ fur is so soft
their ribs hot and inviting her touch

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

tag (at long last)

Worshipful Company of Fletchers, James Tate
Rodent Angel, Debra Weinstein
The Collector of Cold Weather, Lawerence Raab
She-Devil, Betsy Andrews
Lving Room, Geoff Bouvier
comments welcome!!!!!!

Aubade in Queens: A Transfer

the sky, a cabinet polished,
painted, then sanded again
bluish grey all the way down
where everything melts into
lemon sherbert yellow

the families on the 7
sway and fuss on the curves
gather the growing light around them
loudspeaker static over seagulls‘ shriek:
Queensboro Plaza

doors open, mothers hum into the busy air,
singing and scattering, each with her
own peculiar tune; Farsi, Spanish, Creole,
Korean, Greek

black winter coats burst at the zippers
reveal red and gold robes
tucked flannel shirts
tiny pink tees with ponies

grab my hand say one hundred mothers
to a hundred and fifty children

they tighten back packs
smooth down sly cowlicks
turn toward the innumerable questions
of tiny upturned faces --
pulling the light into their palms
they step into the trains again

Monday, April 23, 2007

Version 1.Saved

say you're lost in water

pink rocks where waves simmer
deep rose when wet

water's so cold it burns your thighs
the sand stirs, flares out

you can't quite see your feet
bare and pale
thin as Christ's

or say you're wearing boots
black rubber, filling with water
dragging you down

say your lungs tighten in the freezing air
shrink into pink popped balloons

say it starts to snow

or say you're at a party
in the deep end of the pool

in your bikini with the ruffles and the stars
the birthmark
on your left side
like a meat-colored fig

and say it's the moment the crickets start
a string of Japanese lanterns
vibrate in the breeze

faces flash red and yellow
in the deck chairs above you
and confetti
floats to your arms

party candles crowd
the ceramic edges of the pool

say your ponytail catches fire and say
you feel
a hand
on the crown of your head

say you go under and under


Version 2.

the deep end

in your bikini with the ruffles and the stars

the moment the crickets start
a string of Japanese lanterns
vibrate in the breeze

floats to your arms

party candles crowd
their ceramic edges

your ponytail catches fire

a hand
on the crown of your head

you go under and under