written by Philip Hammial


— Philip Hammial

It's me, myself, no other who's lying
on this filthy mattress in this hospital
corridor, cloudsick, humiliated
by their procedures, by the samples
that they've taken.
&, yes,
it's me, myself, no other who has
but one intention: to make it perfectly clear
that my most ardent wish is to leave as I came -
on my hands & knees, crawling.
&, yes,
it's yours truly, this humble petitioner
that you see before you who will crawl,
naked, to each in turn, to each
of the mothers, to submit
to their wrath.
& myself, no
other who will present you, made
with my own hands, of my hair, of dirt
from under my nails, an effigy of myself
to do with as you will.
& myself, no
other, who's stripped to the waist
in this dim hole, who for twelve hours each night
shovels coal into a boiler - steam
for an engine that must be, can only be
an engine of war.
&, yes, it's
me, no other, who, entering a room
that I thought was empty, finds it full
of steamer trunks & in each, as I lift
its lid, the evidence of a failed migration -
a blue snake, hibernating, oblivious
to the intoxication of my flute.
& me,
alone, hugging myself, who's crooning
a lullaby as the ox is dismissed, as it sinks
into mist - the ox painted blue
that brought me here cradled
in its horns.
& myself, no
other who, coming among strangers,
can understand their language as if
it was my own, their discourse
of dead horses, of empire, of excrement
& tedium.
& myself, yours
truly, no other, who, at the end
of a long journey, was given a tent
in this camp of cowards, who tonight
around a fire as we warm ourselves,
in gratitude, in terror, will place on the lips
of each of my comrades a kiss
of betrayal.

About the poet

Philip Hammial

Philip Roby Hammial (born 1937) is an Australian poet, publisher, editor, artist and art curator. He has a long list of achievements in writing, publishing and sculpting. His achievements include twenty-four collections of poetry, thirty solo sculpture exhibitions and, acting as the director/curator of The Australian Collection of Outsider Art, twenty-six exhibitions of Australian Outsider Art in five countries. Hammial's significance to Australian poetry has been recognised by the Australia Council, which awarded him a Senior Writer’s Fellowship in 1996, an Established Writer’s Fellowship in 2004 and the Nancy Keesing Studio at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2009. Life Hammial (born 1937) grew up in and around Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Farmington High School in 1954. After three years...

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