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