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  • Allison Hummel

Squid In Its Own Ink: Allison Hummel

Allison Hummel is based in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her work has recently appeared in Gasher, A Velvet Giant, The Cabildo Quarterly, A Glimpse Of, and other journals.

Regarding her work, Allison says: "I would like for my poetry to feel like somebody is telling the story of a small moment in time."

Mortal Weekend

The ground might rise

beneath you, like bread.

Things might descend

to meet you, as if

borne by the voice

of somebody very tall.

I might wish I had one

mortal weekend,

things like laundry

and coffee and ramen,

the dreamt-up shape

of Otto on the couch,

the dark low hills

of Brigitte Engerer’s hair;

she plays Schumann’s Carnaval.

I might wish something

engaged me like a fisherman’s


alternative to faith,

anathema to my cloudy wandering.

An inversion of need,

brought up like the wreck of a car

from a lake,

when metal cedes to

sloughing oxide


hair becomes liquid,

we become aged;

this is my dream

of what a nice summit

might look like.


I don’t care much for dreams.

Last night I dreamt

that my ex-boyfriend

was choking me to death with a cord.

I grasped at it with my hands,

thrust my fingers in the space between

the cord and my neck,

that slippery, pliant cartilage

beneath the skin

so much like an uncooked chicken.

He had locked into rage mode

when I answered him

probably not.

And the article that I have chosen

to believe

says that dreams are

entirely without meaning.

I am so comforted, and also

not surprised, because

the way I feel

is engine oil

pooled in a parking lot.

Superficial, manifest,

holographic byproduct

of forward-

propulsion and

less commonly, of reversals.

I keep no secrets from myself.

Probably not, I said and he threw

a plate and, bizarrely, a shot glass.

Probably not, and his rage

took wing, moved from within

the body to without, like


Love Is Beautiful

Love is beautiful.

It makes me want to fold

in on myself, vomiting.

It makes me want to clean

my car, to rinse the cans

before I recycle them.

And I see that you glanced upward

recently, at a chalk-pink

dome of plasterwork,

as if inside a human


Swimming in sgraffito.

Drowning in scagliola.

I remember you, and

cannot forget, and I

will be here,

palpating stone-fruit

in the office kitchen,

waiting to see

if the future is truly

my twin-

if it has been all along,

invisible at my side,

alluded to in ancient script,

again proclaimed in recent study.

Or if I am alone --

inside the human heart,

love is beautiful.

I wished he would come back, my snake.

“But must I confess how I liked him, How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough

and depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless...”


How after I found you, and then lost you, I found

a pair of patent shoes

shiny as lacquer,

elementary as small numbers,

and I danced in the mirror to

do I still figure in your life?

(You answered back with the dull edge

of silence.)

And then I painted my fingernails,

I stroked a soft, gray-white rabbit,

I shared the room with some cabbagey flowers,

a big space, which once had been full, and

my pocket torn out.

Where I wondered did that leg go,

that I wore slung over my shoulder like

some ermine’s cousin?

Where that country mile?

This is the way chance

handles the hungry:

the abundance of choice



mud on a crepe-sole.


Now I turn inward,

walleyed, lovingly,

seeing nothing.

Caressing my alarm clock

every early morning,

it holds me as I sleep.

My life’s shape resembles

a puddle of laundry.

And I remember

your charming accessory,

how it

lashed me to the wall,

but can only buy more house-

plants. Something hardy.

Perhaps a sea grape.

Something substantial.

Squid in its Own Ink

I used to listen to Jacques Brel Is Alive and Singing in Paris.

Now I sit on the couch with a towel in my lap,

I eat rice and beans, find the day exhausting.

I think about godlessness, and about

how wisteria

is in a constant state of diving-down,

or of descending, like rain.

Wisteria: always awaiting

Hyades, or a girl that needs

a pretty photo taken.

In an odd twist, I am informed that

Jacques Brel is Alive and Singing in Paris

is very hard to find, and my copy

has joined the angels

someplace opaque and unknown to me.

First found in a stagnant closet

before my adulthood, last lost and

I am here now with my dishrag and

little phial of alcohol.

I clean the apartment with vigor and eros.

And life is small,

suitable for daily use.

It withstands heat,

it sometimes proffers pleasures:

The hot blackness of night,

hot bar of soap in the shower,

next morning.

Summer showed up yesterday

squawking even at midnight, among

our resting cloud of lime-tone parrots,

and I played Jacques Brel through the television,


what that might make the neighbors



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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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