The Tax for Loving, Eliezer Tristan Publishing (2018)

Through the poems contained in The Tax for Loving, Michael Wayne Hampton explores
the toll impossible romance hews from the souls it binds, the eroticism driven by chasing
specter within and without, and the reconciliation of shadow-selves that remain after one has lost what never was except in dreams outdated.

The voices in these poems are stranded in a present that leaves them reaching out for
connections frayed or severed, one that traps them in the adoration of bleaching
memories, and studies how the scars of abandoned love close without answers or blessed reunions.

This struggle to define the tangle of love that has no language or definition in the instance it manifests and retreats can be found in lines in poems such as “Diary” which implores:

Let me be your empty diary shapeless and
unnamed next to closet codes next to
the count of beats spent the score of a season
blank pages run to margin and spine

and in others such as “Analog” which pleads:

This isn’t who we can be
We are the children of the

Beyond wrestling with the echoes of fresh bruises and last goodbyes, The Tax for Loving
delves into the nature of what it means to be a woman shaped by the spirits and histories
of those who she has marked as in the poem “Your First” which says of these shelled

They were wrong formed without flint or tinder
without gasoline on their breath embers in
their eyes too shy afraid ignorant to
lie still and be immolated in the pyre
bursting from your blowtorch heart

and in the poem “Vellum” wherein the limits of any man to know his lover’s core is laid bare in lines such as:
They will never imagine that you dance
under thunderheads can read their futures in
your mouth

Romance is in essence the collective classic of failing and want, and this ethic haunts
Hampton’s collection in poems such as “Failure,” “Request,” and “The Songs that Made
Our Father’s Cry” among others.

Through these poems the fault lines of compassion, of desire and belief, which constantly
pressure against one another underneath the landscape of love affairs are traced gently,
then set free to fissure and tear, leaving the overturned wreckage of what was genuine or simply naively conceived to be sorted through, reconstructed, and memorialized to act as monuments to a lives and souls reduced to embers and dust.

You can buy your copy here!


Roller Girls Love Bobby Knight, Artistically Declined Press (May 2014)

Michael Wayne Hampton’s Roller Girls Love Bobby Knight is a fierce, hilarious bruise-fest of a novella. A man has no right to know this much about women—the way they think and feel and talk about sex, music, rollerblading, “Hell Yeah” men, and the aesthetics of competitive girl brawls. But Hampton does know, and his knowledge is equal parts funny, scary, and tender. Beneath its shimmery, crack-you-up tour de force exterior swims a love story about a sexy, hard-scrabble mother and her two renegade daughters, breaking hearts, knocking heads, and taking no prisoners. Hampton’s got talent to burn, and these roller girls burn, burn, burn.
—K. L. Cook, author of Love Songs for the Quarantined and Last Call

Equal parts tent revival preacher and cage match announcer, Michael Wayne Hampton dives inside the raucous, twanged-up world of DIY roller derby to find the kick-drum heart of contemporary rural Kentucky in his lively love letter to sisterhood, community, and good old-fashioned ass-kicking. Buckle up, girls and boys — Roller Girls Love Bobby Knight is hell on wheels.
— Erin Keane, author of Demolition of the Promised Land


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Romance for Delinquents, Foxhead Books (January 2014)

In stories that bring to mind Breece D’J Pancake and Harry Crews, but in a voice all their own, Michael Wayne Hampton’s characters fight the hard fight—often facing a life and landscape as stubborn and unforgiving as a rusted engine bolt. Told in voices that are remarkable for their authenticity, Hampton’s people are memorable, his prose is lapidary in its precision, and his stories are hard to forget. Rob Roberge, author of The Cost of Living

“Michael Wayne Hampton is a born storyteller. And that doesn’t just mean he can spin a good yarn, the kind that keeps you ear-stuck and tongue-tied, listening hard. He also has the storyteller’s art of absolute authenticity, fidelity to hard-knocked voices – while writing prose that lifts and transcends, that fiercely proclaims that through the ugly, all of us are living some kind of beautiful.”  Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies                                    

“These are bold, insistent stories of people dancing along the edges of epiphany and oblivion. Hampton’s America is ragged, dangerous, and utterly engaging.” Ian Stansel, author of Everybody’s Irish



BadKidsBad Kids from Good Schools

(Winged City Chapbook Press 2013)

“…Michael Wayne Hampton knows these bad kids all too well as he sings their song, tells their tales, and achingly wrenches something meaningful out of their already lost and drifting lives.”

– Ben Tanzer, author of Orphans

“At best most of us can only reflect on how the world seemed to us as kids, blocks of images, spliced scenes from home movies. Not Michael Wayne Hampton. This book is an achievement in storytelling and craft to be envied and read again and again.”

– Sheldon Lee Compton, author of The Same Terrible Storm

Out of print. Contact author for copies.

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