“Love Hurts, San Jose 1975” by Christine Hamm

Christine Hamm


in the photo
the man is sprawled
a Chinese ideogram
spelling knife or beauty
sadness or forgiveness
potato or tongue

blood has splashed and run
down the grey wastebasket

there is a golden cast
to the scene
the daisies on the yellow
kitchen wall the ochre
dishwasher door

one hand is curled near
his turned away face
a cheek the delicate pink
of a girl’s blush when she
is caught at her first lie

his shoes are black, cheap

the blood a triangle
spread over his stomach
like a bandanna folded
across his lap to hold
a tuna fish or roast beef
sandwich on a picnic table

the knife an afterthought
bright shadow
insubstantial smear
on a white t-shirt scrawled
with slogans
half words hidden
in the folds

from Rattle #23, Spring 2005


Christine Hamm: “I have been a writer since kindergarten, when I wrote illustrated tales of shapeless purple monsters eating everyone and then crying. My themes haven’t changed much since then. I came to poetry after writing fiction for many years. I eventually came to dislike the awkwardness of ‘plots’ and how false they seemed. Poetry seems to claim a lot less than fiction, and question more and in a way, leave more space in the universe. I read once in a Zen magazine that poetry is about ‘the space around it’ the white page between line breaks, the gap between the poem and the bottom of the page and I think my writing tries to make peace with the space, use it in a way that gives the reader an opportunity to pause and make their own way, whatever that means.” (web)

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