Hannah Gamble

We Can Walk Towards the Future As Towards a Luminous City



Sustain yourself

with the conversations

no one else is using.



Watch documentaries

about exceptional children,

and eat some animal protein.



Dress yourself in the dark.



Undress yourself

when he’s looking

for the mail.



Strength is one goal,

and not tripping on the way up

the stairs is another.



Celebrate finishing

the things you begin.

Celebrate harder.



If the world feels like

it will shake you,

wear your puffy windbreaker

indoors. Now a stranger

could bump you in a doorway

and you might not even feel it.



Go through your receipts,

and you’ll learn who you are.



If someone you know

asks you who you are

you can say nothing

and put on

your sunglasses.



Instead of doing your laundry,

you can put your quarters

in a gumball machine.



Instead of calling her,

you can sleep.



Instead of lying,

you can just tell him

something else.

Summer in the First Days



Mint is exquisite

     and a poem is a thing

that keeps me from moving around.



Writing a poem

   is wrapping a shining insect of the enchanted morning

               in cheesecloth

and enjoying the urgent and tiny

flashes of purple.



Everything I want to tell you

would make a wonderful sound

hitting your windowpane,



but words

aren’t a natural thing.



There was the time I bound my arms

     and then tried to hold out my hands,

     and then was sad when

I couldn’t hold out my hands.



What is love, we ask,

and the woman

     on the telephone says,

Oh, nothing much,

I just got back from the store.

Neighborhood Beautification



Hello, poet. I read your book again today,

and with Houston finally being

what I want it to be (windy

and piled with the bodies of pumpkins)

I have to say I felt

alone. Alone is a proud

and quiet feeling where I am everything

and everything is a cluster of four pumpkin-colored

leaves on a tree still green in October.


There are several white berries

in the leaves where to live

in Houston is to hear the cries

of neighborhood beautification machines

which only sound human if my friends

are away. People say people are hard

to understand, but those people

aren’t paying attention.


In Houston, I explore

the alleys of Chinatown alone.

Tablecloths, flowers, and trash mean

someone is having a wedding.

Thanks to sudden parade

of sirens, the nearby restaurant

won’t burn after all; maybe after,

everyone will put on nicer clothes

and come celebrate the marriage.


The world will always burn and be

flooded with aid. In their colors, four leaves

in October are dying and celebrating.

I, myself, any one of us could say,

am a marriage.




HANNAH GAMBLE is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast, selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series and to be published by Fence in 2012. Her poems and interviews appear or are forthcoming in APR, jubilat, Poetry, The Laurel Review, Indiana Review, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She teaches at The University of Wisconsin-Parkside and lives in Chicago.