January 19-25, 2004: Christine Hamm and Katey Nicosia


week of January 19-25, 2004

Christine Hamm and Katey Nicosia

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Christine Hamm

Bio (auto)

Christine Hamm has an MA in creative writing She has been published in Stirring, Octavo, Shampoo Poetry, Poetry Midwest, the Adirondack Review, the Absinthe Literary Review and over 30 others She is the literary editor of the cultural journal, Wide Angle, and has taught several poetry workshops in NYC Her book, Things You Can Do With a Sharpened Pencil, is available for purchase at www.lulu.com/sharpNpencil

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Christine Hamm and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My Mother’s Basement

I drew chalk flowers in the basement so you
would come look You got slow near the steps You didn’t make it down much I grew used to the dark
Since that man broke your neck
you had trouble seeing anyone under four feet tall;
anyone with cold tiny hands, for example,
or anyone that clung to your feet when you walked
You liked me to stay in the basement I had a wooden dog with wheels for legs who barked
clack, clack, clack when I pulled his rope I punished him with my shoe when you got distracted You’d get lost counting the number of bricks in the
fireplace or
smoothing all the necks of the Vodka bottles –you’d
your invitation and wouldn’t come look
A black upright piano blocked the slit windows When I banged keys with both fists I thought
I was a fire alarm, thought you would come
running, thought you could see the house,
The basement flooded
and I made a raft of Christmas wreaths
and kitty litter blooming with mold You were the dark star I sailed towards —
the only light on the horizon and
I followed you everywhere, barking,

clack, clack
clack, clack.

Modern Maid

Joan of Arc works at the Gap Her armor, nearly invisible under
the florescent light, catches on the sweaters
she folds, so that cashmere threads
follow her everywhere, a crimson cape
She can’t remember how she got here:
most days, can’t remember her name when she gets up,
but knows where her keys are,
and what bus to take to work
God speaks to her sideways,
flickering reflections in the
napkin dispenser at the diner,
upside down when she licks
the ice cream clean from her spoon
Joan sees pinions behind her when she uses the ATM There’s angels, sometimes angry and frightening,
often white, and always in her dreams They smell like straw and milk
Joan is sixteen She’s always sixteen She’s so blond her eyebrows disappear She has freckles and is serious,
chews off her lipstick She’ll heal you if you ask nice,
and go back behind the 501’s with her Her name means “God is gracious “
Sometimes when she’s stacking the perfume
called heaven
she remembers this is true.

American Dream

This is a poem about a lawn It’s green It’s square It’s flat where the chairs went in August There are dandelions A bulldog digs a hole and buries a hand,
buries a handball The lawn is mown at near regular intervals by
a flamboyant transexual I mean a moody teenage boy The mower is gas powered and full of deadly thoughts The daughter of the house
sniffs gasoline in the garage When she lies on the cool invasive concrete
the rafters full of her father’s tools spin above her Later, she will become a moody teenage boy I mean a second grade teacher Until she marries a red haired man
who dies suddenly She finds herself feeling nothing and
questions the nature of her reality She’s not real
so she doesn’t question it for very long
But this poem is not about her;
it’s about her lawn
and she’s ten and
hasn’t turned into anything interesting for
the past 24 hours
The lawn, however,
was a sunset, a stick of flesh
and a tic in the gunman’s eyelid Near midnight
it becomes a weeping man,
stands up and
walks out of this picture.

Katey Nicosia


Katey Nicosia is 23-yrs-old and lives in Dallas, TX She will graduate from Texas Tech University in May 2004 She is the assistant poetry editor at Word Riot, and she writes poems all the time, and sometimes she draws or even rollerskates.

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Katey Nicosia and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Madonna Poops

and so do you There you are with a newspaper
clutched under your armpit,
a cup of coffee, a crossword puzzle,
a cigarette but no ashtray
Have you ever pictured Hitler there?
I have He’s usually cleaning a gun,
tapping his right foot, misting puffs
of aerosol above his head The usual Except for the gun
Imagine Shakespeare on the toilet,
or squatting in a hole before brainstorming Hamlet I can see him strolling back to the stage,
two oak leaves stuck to the bottom of his shoe,
and the man playing Ophelia
would kindly say, “There’s a leaf on your sole,”,
and Shakespeare would blush,
which isn’t something you’ve thought of before, have you?

My Pants

You say I always write about pants
falling down, pants around ankles,
lumped on a hardwood floor, khakis hanging
over a chair’s back, jeans unzipped,
loosened down the legs of some shirt-less girl
in your bedroom
She likes strawberries and bendy straws She tells you this as she kicks her pants
off a leg to melt on the floor You’re in bed, arms X’d behind your head,
face focused like a straight seam
arrowed in on the girl with no clothes,
crawling over your legs, slow
like a cat to your mouth
I’m alone Writing this Outside the window,
laundry sways on the line, and I’m sure
you’re still with her, and you’ll still be
with her in an hour or so when I get up
to see if my clothes are dry Then, standing by the line, I’ll have to scratch
a fresh ant bite on my inner thigh,
so I’ll drop my pants, just like the girl with no clothes,
your perfect, long-legged hemline.

The Art of First Impressions

The hinges meekly pivot The solid wood
lashes in an inward flap from the frame
an acoustic of oak swiping oak,
a sudden draft of sky and presence
You are inside now Shut the door behind you Flies are getting in
The rest is everything in reverse
plus a gust of triumph,
a sign that you’ve gone out into the world
and returned unharmed, just the same,
except for a haircut Maybe
Place your keys on the small table
near the fireplace This is the climax,
the encore, the soundtrack Rattle and clink Your fans are shouting your name,
their thumbs hot near the flames So smile Take a bow.

I Eat the Plum

Robert wants a baby I can tell Why else would he knit booties in bed
and sing to our terrier, Alfred?
Often, he looks out the windows at night
and mutters how blank the night has been
the past few months
His eyes are empty Darker too,
and I tell him so They are dark for sure,
but nothing like the abyss of your stomach,
the unfurnished bedroom you have in there,
that barren cave
Yes, Robert wants a baby
Which makes me hungry Would you like a plum?
I ask on my way to the kitchen No thanks, a plum is nothing
but an apple’s black eye
He asks for milk instead I eat the plum, the bloodiest fruit I can find.

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