Two poems by Justin Hamm

In Little League once

after bobbling
a slow bouncer,
I made the mistake
of rolling my eyes
at our coach,
who grabbed my collar
and hissed
his terrible coffee
into my pale face
until I began
to sob and jerk
like a puppet.

When he let go
and turned back
the dugout,
he was forced
to look up
and then
look up again
just to meet
the hard eyes
of the man
whose right hand
had just grabbed
of his collar.

Hell, I don’t
know why
I even told you
that story just now.
I don’t condone
collar grabbing,
would prefer
nobody ever grab
anybody’s collar
much less do
comes after that.

I guess part
of me just wishes
every little boy
had one chance
to see his old man
that way.


Let’s Be Honest

Ah, my love, said the woman. Sometimes
I secretly wish you would get a bladder infection.
Nothing too dangerous, but something
that truly hurts like hell.

Well, sometimes after I refuse to make love
to you, said the man, I go into the backyard
and watch pornography on my cell phone.

I have not loved you, or even liked you,
for many years, said the woman. The way
you eat pasta should be a capital offense.

The only reason I have not left you is I am
afraid my misogyny and laziness would not
be tolerated by anyone else, said the man.

I do not love you. But I will of course stay
with you for as long as you will stay with me
because I lack the imagination to see
an alternative, said the woman.

Yes, come here, let me hold you,
said the man. I feel exactly the same way.


Justin Hamm is the author of a full length collection of poems, Lessons in Ruin, and two poetry chapbooks. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana, and his work appears in Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Sugar House Review, Cream City Review, and New Poems from the Midwest 2014. Justin has also received the Stanley Hanks Memorial Prize from the St. Louis Poetry Center.

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