written by Philip Hammial


— Philip Hammial

Should have sent that birthday card to my sister. Did
I remember to double-lock the front door? That word -
culpable - that I used in that poem; too jarring,
& the thesaurus gone astray. opto & then
the rest of the sign metrist. Those nude photos
of my first wife - should have burned them. Socks
too thick for these shoes. In the midst
of a vast expanse of tile on that roof: one weed, olive
green. A girl of about sixteen, why
is she limping? That man with one leg
who picked me up hitchhiking in Ohio, wanted
me to touch his wooden leg. I refused. What
if I had? Would I be here now? Need help? - call
1800 424 017. The screech
of a fan belt. The trunk of an elm tree, open, with
a throbbing heart inside. Rubbing his hands together
to keep them warm - a roasted chestnut vendor
on the Champs Elysees. That freight I rode
with Gage on a perfect summer day - San Francisco
to Sacramento; Gage dead at 58, his paintings
in the Whitney, the Paris Biennale… Fifty-two
unread books on my list. Persistent flies, almost
swallowed one. That mole
on Paula's thigh, how many times
did I kiss it? Those jet trails, if only
I could watch them until they fade to nothing. Gaze
for a few seconds into the eyes of a wildebeest (a
wildebeest, here, in the city?) - its breathing
my breathing.

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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