Storm Damage

by Melissa Hotchkiss


“…spoken by a voice at once spare, cold, vulnerable, desperate, syntactically peculiar, elegant, disturbing, sexy, and even funny. Hotchkiss writes multi-dimensional, often heartbreaking, and always urgent poems.” —Martha Rhodes

Add to Cart

Format: paperback

Out of stock

ISBN: 978-0-9710310-7-4 Categories: ,

“This is a startling book spoken by a voice at once spare, cold, vulnerable, desperate, syntactically peculiar, elegant, disturbing, sexy, and even funny. Hotchkiss writes multi-dimensional, often heartbreaking, and always urgent poems.” —Martha Rhodes

“In this first book, Melissa Hotchkiss has already found her métier. She does remarkable things with brevity and foreshortening, and rarely the same thing twice.” —Michael Ryan

Storm Damage views an ordinary world in a quiet, extraordinary way. The world is painted with words yet concretely defined at times by what is ‘not.’ The poems make an arc of language and reflection, while remaining offbeat and disarming. They contain wonderful angles and new slants to ‘see by.'”—Michael Burkard

“Melissa Hotchkiss’s poems have the powerful defamiliarizing quality of certain Eastern European films. One careful, oddly lighted take after another—focusing on the very minute, ordinary things—suddenly releases an enormous spookiness, sadness, or longing.” —Alan Williamson

Here is poetry at once intense and resolute from a poet who captures the language of speech and gives it back to us matter-of-fact dressed in cruelty and kindness. In these poems, nothing is what it seems. Rather, things are what they are, beneath the camouflage. Here are poems about shared memories, common experiences and everyday conflicts, presented with startling clarity. Nobody has made our language speak in quite this way before not with this keen a sense of attention and always with that rare power to upend the way we experience even the most recognizable emotions, which is a way of talking about discovery. Her vision reminds us who we are with each new gasp of recognition. If the poems of Melissa Hotchkiss were clothes, they would try you on for size and later, without quite knowing how it happened, you would find yourself wearing them: spare, subtly woven, delicate, thoroughly sophisticated. It seems more than hours and hours the tide takes to go completely away far as the moon allows some things turn kinder as they leave.


hotchkiss225Melissa Hotchkiss is a founding editor of Barrow Street and also ran the Barrow Street Reading Series in the West Village for 8 years. Over the years, Barrow Street has showcased over 300 poets and fiction writers at the reading series and published over 200 established and emerging poets in the poetry journal. Six poems in the last four years have appeared in Best American Poetry.Barrow Street, Inc., is a non-profit organization based in New York City.

Melissa’s poetry has appeared in Marlboro Review, LIT, Upstairs at Duroc, The Lyric Review, 3rd Bed, and other magazines. Her prose has appeared in the New Virginia Review and The New York Times. Melissa was interviewed, along with two other NY writers in Time Out NY, in May 2000. Reviews of Storm Damage have appeared or are forthcoming in Time Out NY and The Journal. Melissa has read at over 40 venues in Maine, Vermont, Utah, Virginia, and New York City. She has also tried her hand at stand-up comedy, performing at the NY Comedy Club and Stand-Up New York. She has lived in the East Village since 1990.

Additional information

Weight .4 lbs
Dimensions 6 × .5 × 9 in

I was touching your skin
hoping my body
could be your whole day

Bitch, he says, bitch
I am pounding on the floor again
His music in my home

Moving down the stairs, now I am
Begging, almost at his door

It’s torture, really, I hear myself saying
You have to understand

Does it really bother you that much?
I say yes
He says fine

Again, as his door closes
Bitch, he says, fucking bitch

I am in the driver’s seat
My license has expired

My mother keeps repeating
“There is nowhere to plant the zinnias”
Nowhere to plant the zinnias?

Driving to a wedding on a bright clear day
She panics in a crowd of twenty
When she cannot find me

Who has mentioned clear water right behind the white farmhouse
Who has mentioned a dark gray Dutch door
Who has mentioned tall birch trees growing, will they ever stop growing
Who has mentioned a baby grand piano, chipped ivory keys

These are the things that don’t matter
Not food served or the ringing of a phone over blue linoleum
Or a draining, straining sink

Who has mentioned the sucking noise a parent makes with the end of their reading
glasses after supper
Or the tall knife-like ice fallen from a roof in winter
Who has mentioned no sound at night‹does anyone remember
No whispering, no water dripping from a faucet, no doors banging from the
wind it
was quiet

Who has mentioned the maple tree struck by lightning during a summer thunderstorm
Or firewood, rotting near the driveway in April
Who has mentioned a cold perfectly cut granite floor

Who has mentioned a mother driving to the store
For all the ice in the world still unable to stop the nosebleed of a dying white horse in spring
Or the son, in the doorway, waiting for her return