ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Five Poems by Philip Hammial.



Are we here to save our lives? Big
should we beg? If we pay enough
can we crawl under? Do our keepers know what it’s like
to burn bare naked? With our persons
should they have their fun free? Are they & they
our destiny? Our heroes
to look up to, do they know we know
where the cowards are?
                                      As always
they’re in behind the others. In, just there,
that swoon bordello with the cowboy classic
repertoire: On hands & knees
do Arch of Submission. Or suffer
spurs, some egg on
a face you thought was yours.
                                                Is time,
little miss, to jump as queen, as promised
to the people. And you too, little mister, is time
to jump as queen as well. Over which if high enough
some good might come: a roll-up single bed, a hi-fi
porno of our very own that every father might
in scratchy song wish us well. Do them proud
& over to Efendi’s they may not
today cross us. And possibly won’t on us
this morning the glory grabbers sick with terms
of endearment in minor key if ear-trumpets
we’ve stupidly left in our ears.
                                                 Told, again,
what we already know: In us is folly
fully engaged for which, if we’re smart
& know the rules, we’ll kneel & do the praise
we’ve been trained to do by betters. And told,
again, lest we forget, how among the dead
of all the dead we are, by a mile, the most dead.
Flung like stones, all of us.




Mother – she’s sprouted wings, comes at me with
a butterfly-like flitting that makes me squeamish. I don’t
know why, possibly because the soup tureen
on the kitchen table is empty & the seven bibbed
slurpers (my relatives?) are swearing on a stack of Bibles
(conveniently placed next to the tureen) that they’ll
remember me after I’m dead; well,
easy enough to say but
FOR HOW LONG? Look in the tureen,
says one, probably female in spite
of the moustache, can’t you see that the cargo
is precious? No, why would I &, look yourself, it’s
empty &, no, I refuse on principle to be a credit to this
or any family, which apparently is construed as a signal
for my bodyguards with their snarling dogs to abandon me,
the cowards, leaving me, wrists & ankles bound, a pole
slipped through, to be carried down a long path
into the heart of a black forest, flitting mother urging
my carers (my relatives?) to hurry: the cage
is ready; the inquisitors are growing impatient.



Blue Suede Shoes

That slap too much a take-down
of me, an important No 5 religious rank. How
dare? They forget my importance story
                 Too late that hillfolk farmer
explain me how to keep shoes (blue suede) as,
bent over to tie, them in single file approach, pants
                Accommodate confusion
in brethren? – May the dead sit up
& take notice! Umbrage! Revenge
          And by proxy may the minarets
keep talking: out there somewhere somebody
got to mumble that prayer! Bottom dollar
say so.
           Thief, empty your pockets, every
last egg: intellectual berserkers barracking
for harvest, a cut from a rut
they have no clue,
                              Dr Tulip’s dissection
of the hanged criminal Aris Kindt in the Maurits-
huis Waageborn as relevant now
as it was in 1654.
                             And you (Aris) with whom
I share my blood Please to inform that the man
who owns a crow may not own a fox if
the fox dies first.
                            This last
for nonsense interlude, keep
‘em guessing, blessing
in disguise, etc.
                          For in my death
I have not perished – up from that slap
like greased lightning, this shout of love-song
being the proof thereof.



An Effervescence

& after that: this nonsense saviour sexing Maggie, His
rat-tat-tat without a that much too slow, we shan’t
abide, not a single minute more. From now on it’s
teeth (excessively white) to reckon with, ghost
teeth, when suddenly: ZENITH, a struggle with wire
holding down, rusty GDR stuff, bought
on the cheap (apropos that white, we were with gusto
drinking milk). Should we share, commend to Thee
while guards are snoozing, too much boozing? Depends –
which wife ordered it? And is her beg-your-leave-to-drink-
in-peace to be trusted? Probably not; it was probably spawned
by a book that in the course of its velocitating was slammed
shut, never to be opened again, umbrage taken
with its content, style, verbs & nouns, etc. – the usual
justification for some seigneur’s right to propagate
without let or hindrance. In short: scat
as patriarchal privilege, glands in an uproar, the music
of those Golden Years – nothing to fear. Of course
there’s Pedro’s Olé! But I don’t see
any bulls; do you? And the obstreperous Triads
who’ve taken over the local café, they’re
just boys that the proprietress, the crone
with exceptionally long slender fingers, witch’s fingers,
will render null & void. Note: mark this last
for revision before it’s pointed out & not politely
that witches are just harmless old women scape-
goated by impotent old men. Speaking of which
here’s Gentile Scarff & Leopoldo Leopardi sending
in their seconds to duel with forks (am I the only one
digging an escape tunnel with a spoon? – NADIR, too
gooey, let me out of here). Another
interruption: this prophet in my face shouting
Prophylactic! Prophylactic! OK, I get the message: stop
sexing, or trying too, you silly old fool, no wire
holding down, she’s off & running.



Ayahuasca Seering

A portentous title for a poem about
about... Flabbergasting cummerbunds? Let’s
be serious (just this once): A gig appraisal
by the right reverend Andy Devine? Andy, if devotion
fail to commence immediately (now, this very minute)
would you really pop? – money that you lost
to scammers niggled, as per:
on a rickety platform ten thousand feet above
a whirlpool, something gives away & one of them falls
& then another they want me to come up & play but
I don’t want to a soldier appears & begins to prod me
up a ladder with his bayonet. Quick, jump

to the next paragraph (which, in a poem, is possible; just
as well this isn’t real life). If you think Nembutal sleep
is bad form you ought to try the brook-no-fear capsule
that Richard the Red, newspaper waiter at the Café des
Westerns, Berlin, 1923, offers with today’s newspaper:
happens now? Will the Luciferian affectations
of Macky – Lies a body oozin’ life – Messer be granted
rite of passage through this poem? Don’t touch, that’s
my hurt: Just a jack-knife has Macheath. Which
calls to mind the perennial question: when is a master
from the West not a master? Answer: when boy bitch
is bundled as a point of convergence. Which is
an unnecessary concession to sleaze in the opinion
of this reader, but since it’s been allowed to slip in
by an obviously inattentive author I’ll make the most
of it: clothes off to shame music while I’m touched
(fondled) by a mistress from the East. Please
don’t stop. Please let the ink continue to ooze
from the cut rose as I step from a dungeon
into a meadow, blue sky, cattle grazing, all’s right
with the world, etc. Let devotion begin.


Philip Hammial has had 26 poetry collections published. His poems have appeared in 25 poetry anthologies (in five countries) & in 108 journals in twelve countries. He has represented Australia at eight international poetry festivals, most recently at Granada, Nicaragua in February 2014. In 2009/10 he was the Australian writer-in-residence for six months at the Cité International des Arts in Paris. This is his first appearance in Offcourse.

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