Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things that Give a Queasy Feeling


    ants on the shoulders of coats

men walking closely behind me

    the wet spot

        tangled hair on strangers

cherubim on postcards

    women laughing as I enter the room

        the smell of
            public bathrooms

videos of white children at parties

    waking up with a dry mouth

        bumping into pregnant women

climbing four flights of stairs in a narrow stairwell

        algae stuck between my toes when swimming in a lake

    frozen strawberry drinks

    the taste of vodka on someone else’s tongue

accidentally squashing a roach as I slip on my shoe

    the smell of the monkey house at the zoo

            the color yellow

a sink full of wet silverware

    a pile of old mattresses on the curb

                day old sushi

the crash of one car hitting another

    too many antihistamines

        the sound of
        a bottle breaking outside my window

sucking someone's fingers and getting a distinct and salty taste

        the sound of my cat retching

    a nurse
        missing my vein twice

a CD stuck on the same three notes, over and over again

an old woman smiling with gummy teeth

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How to be Hit

forget there's another person in the room,
forget there's a room

turn into a naked animal
in the desert outside Jerusalem,
outside Las Vegas, in the flower
bed outside your mother's house

feel your skin burn as if
you lie under boiling water
in an old pink bathtub

forget how to open your eyes,
how to use your tongue, hear
someone breathing louder, louder

hear your mother yelling
somewhere downstairs,
calling you for pancakes
though she's been dead for a decade

be five years old, curled in the dirt
under your favorite swimming pool,
be ten years old, beaned in the face
with a fastball and knocked to the grass,

stare at the sun without your glasses
and don't blink, even as the pain
reaches through your retina to your brain stem,
even as the sky goes black

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Color Theory for Beginners

let us start with the shade of Beth,
which some might call
blue, some ochre

she has shins that shine
even in daylight,
even in the yellow grass
as she shuffles the ball
to the other girls during field hockey,
even as she shouts and shows
her crooked teeth, her dark small
tongue that darts a little strangely
to the corner of her lips
when she thinks no one's peeking

she has short hair that ruffles
against the palms of teammates,
of impulsive teachers,
that blends into the sky when she leaps,
that is almost pink,
almost blonde

and no one can tell
the color of her eyes
as she squints against the sun
and shades her face with her hand,
her face deep pink, fierce,
full of some kind of light
(both particular and waving)
bent then bent again, refracted,
until it forms an incandescent,
truant hue

I apologize to everyone who's been patiently waiting for another post, or a reply to his/her lovely comment, but I have been backlogged/overwhelmed/sunk/busy/etc.

I'll try to be better. Please don't leave me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Monsoon Season

the way the night air
suddenly turns thick like milk
spoiling, rain everywhere
at once, hot wind in the dark,
water washing warm through
the palm fronds, water creeping
in under the front door,
all the towels soaked, knotted
into fists, pushed against the windows

upstairs, something falls over,
we can't hear our own dialogue
but someone may be singing outside,
we don't know where the dogs went,
one cat crouches next to the stove,
lifting her paws, disgusted by the wet,
your hand on my shoulder,
damp through the cloth,
your mouth near my ear

no one can hear us,
our shoes overflowing with mud,
with roots, the window
in the hall flings open
with a roar

I can't find the edge of your skin
or this wall, but I feel
your lashes against my palm,
wet as grass, close as a wave
knocking me over, taking my breath

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Take Urines

Melissa says you have to stand outside the bathroom stall with the door open, sometimes you have to hold the door open, pressing high up on the chipped pink metal, because they often swing closed on their own. Some of the stalls have strips of torn fabric or pieces of clothesline to fasten around the corner of the door and keep it open. Then you try not to look at their faces and just watch what they're doing with their hands, make sure they're not pouring in anything from their pockets or underwear. Usually you don't have to talk. Sometimes they'll say something, but you don't have to respond.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm doing some poetry readings shortly that you might be interested in. I just got written up in Time Out NY for the Poetry Brothel:

But I'm not going to do that character again -- this time I'm going to be a bad secretary, not a dead hooker.

Hope you can make one or the other. I need to put you on the guest list if you want to go to the reading on the 18th in Williamsburg, so email me and I'll give you the address and send the curator of the series a note.

March 13th
The Poetry Brothel will be performing once again at the Jonathan Shorr Gallery (109 Crosby St. @ Prince) on Thursday, March 13th from 6pm to Midnight. Come hear Dottie Lasky, who's coming in from Philly, read with her troop of dancing harlots performing alongside, and, of course, enjoy all our poetic temptresses in private readings as per usual. Don't forget the blackjack, tarot readings (by our Poet Prophet Robert Cunningham), The Baby Soda Jazz Band will be performing, and Anthony Zito will be doing live painting. Also, keep an eye out for Edgar Allan Poe; word on the street is he may be paying us a visit this month.

March 18th
writers salon march 18th 7:30 pm
three fabulous poets for a night of fun and frolick
four bucks donation
7:30 pls try to be on time will start at eight promptly!

and theres an open mike with a three min limit pls bring something to read....thats part of the fun

Here's something about the readers:

CHRISTINE HAMM is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Drew University, where she was awarded a Caspersen Scholarship for Academic Promise. In 2007, she was a runner up to Queens' Poet Laureate. Her poetry has been published in The Adirondack Review, Pebble Lake Review, Horseless Press, Lodestar Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry Midwest, MiPoesias, Rattle, Snow Monkey and Exquisite Corpse, among others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and once for "The Best of the Web". Her book of poems, The Transparent Dinner, was published by Mayapple Press in October '06. Christine is on the editorial board of several literary journals, including Vernacular. She teaches English at Rutgers University and poetry writing at Women's Studio Center in Queens, NY. She has three chapbooks, Children Having Trouble with Meat, published by MiPoesias, The Animal Husband, published by Dancing Girl Press, and The Salt Daughter, by Little Poem Press.

Mary Donnelly was born in San Pedro, CA and received an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Crowd, The Hat, Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review, and The Iowa Review. She is Poetry Editor for the online journal failbetter and Co-director of the "Reading Between A and B" series. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches through Gotham Writers' Workshop.

Marty McConnell
Marty McConnell transplanted herself from Chicago to New York City in 1999 to pursue her MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College . In addition to completing three national tours with the Morrigan, an all-female performance poetry troupe she co-founded, she competed in the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 National Poetry Slams with team NYC/louderARTS and appeared on the second and fifth seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

Also, a gratuitous glam photo:

courtesy of Matthew David Powell

Saturday, March 08, 2008

the 6th time

you burned yourself on my lips
flaming coffee pots at 8am
elevator music outside the hospital
bits of toilet paper trapped in trees

it starts to rain
no one curses, lifts an umbrella
flaps a newspaper over his head

the stop lights continue
red light, green
bus left running with the keys in the ignition

garbage pails overflow
with plastic bags, half-eaten
tacos, dirty coats
the sound of something rippling,
snapping, the sound of wind

the sidewalk speckles then darkens
no one sidesteps puddles
no one watches the rain shattering
the clouds on the street
rings within rings
water breaking, regrouping

Christmas presents left out on the curb
in case someone wants them
before the water soaks through

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Her Sister Started It

Billy always had the drugs
in his glove compartment

this might be the part where
they all drove to the lake after
their parents were asleep

in the car, she talked about fishing with her father
when she was five, about catching something
bright yellow and blue that he made her throw back

the twins were fighting again that day -- nothing
they said, but the looks they gave each other

without warning there was sand everywhere
her scalp, armpits, teeth and the sky was getting lighter

she remembered a bonfire out by the water and marshmallows?
or perhaps they were cooking mushrooms on a stick

a bitter taste, her tongue very very hot and then whiskey
almost sweet as if mixed with a syrup or cola

she wasn't sure who was driving on the way
home or who had his hand in her pants

she wished her sister were there, she
had more experience with situations like these

afterwards, there were bruises on her legs
she told her mother she fell off her horse

a pile of dead seagulls next to the fire,
was that the smell, the taste?
at first she wasn't sure she was awake

her cheeks were red and burned, she had kissed
someone with a beard or rubbed her face in the sand

she never remembered what happened to her ring

maybe her sister had been in the backseat,
but they never talked about it

she had pulled someone's hair and it felt good
she thinks his name was Scott, his tongue
nice, warm on her lips but like a mechanical thumb in her ear

it felt like a wrist at first, a thin hot wrist
without bones

it was so hard to tell underwater and it was so cold

her sister by the fire, flipping her black hair
over one ear and talking to the boy with the bad
sun burn

her shoulders hurt most of all the next day,
little blisters rose like domino dots

while she grabbed the orange juice her mother
came up behind her and smelled her hair,
made a disgusted noise

at one point, there was a blanket and then
there was no blanket and everyone could
see, she tried not to care

the next day she still shivered every time
she thought of his fingers

she wished her sister hadn't taken her hat

someone's window was broken
someone was saying "don't be such a baby"