"[the sick cat is licking]" by Christine Hamm


Lately, the cat has taken to purring every night

around 9. Sometime he drools on his bright orange

coat, sometimes he looks like tangled weeds.

Last night, people saw northern lights

in New Jersey. Tonight the sky is clouded.

You said this to me often when we

were together, and yes, yes – definitely,

when the revolution comes, I’ll be the first

to die.

I named my cat after another species;

I check his gums, slowly feel his spine through his skin.

I write to ask reddit if I am an asshole. I know

the answer already. Concentrate and ask again.

The sick cat is licking a divot into the wall.

I chase him with food – he twists himself away.

I dreamt about you again last night.

Young, still with hair, you scolded me and said:

If we were really ever together. Reply hazy. Try

again. You were my back up plan. Which is to say,

I never found you interesting enough.

On a website where teachers are judged, someone says

I repeat myself all the time, and that I don’t know anything.

I hear my cat vomiting under my bed. Someone

else says I have good but clouded intentions.

All these things are true. Tonight my reply

is yes. My intentions, also, are sometimes bad.


Christine Hamm, a queer & disabled professor, social worker and student of ecopoetics, has a PhD in English, and lives in New Jersey. She recently won the Tenth Gate Prize from Word Works for her manuscript, Gorilla. She has had work featured in Orbis, pioneertown, Painted Bride Quarterly and many others.

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