ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Phillip Hammial

When All of Asia Sings

When all of Asia sings
woman peak at so & so, widows in mufti wandering
between obscene piles, the pro & con
of my obsession with toddlers with
suicide vests. As any service of a fundamental nature
excites a morbid curiosity among those who would show
the wolf to the door we'd like to know if, bottoms
up, the whole lot could be spanked in one go. And No,
they won't get off on the milk clause. It's obvious
that these babes are off their feed, milk flowing
in Paradise but not here. So please be informed
that the mix in this tale of woe is all wrong.
Straight ahead is Tallahassee (not Paradise)
& à gauche it's Paris where Francis (Picabia)
is cooling his heels at the Closerie des Lilas, no victory
for the spankers today. Estimable Sir, might I remind you
of that trip we took to Barcelona in your Bugatti, screaming
around curves on the Costa Brava, how tumultuous
that was. Loud & clear that roar of abundance! Fetch me
a star bag! Let dreadlock spoofs prevail while I stroke
a collared slave! And that Halie Selassie impersonation
what a grand idea! So let us not be concerned with
the noodling of Bunny Berrigan's trumpet wrath, tincture
superceding fracture by a factor of ten, this jaunt
with the signatories leaving us culpable? No, in
the big picture we're working the tables
at Breugel's, hustlers constructing for your pleasure
a jubilation, a juncture, a jinx (you know the drill): when
Jill shames Jack there's always a rugged-up Dutch
pointing the way to bread, pumpernickel not rye. Bye
the bye, of the many falsifications (in this poem) the
reference to the love nest (see line three) comes
within a smidgeon of some truth: that our sickness
is of a piece with that old saw – the mother of my friend
(Picabia in this case) is the mother of me – such minions
as we are of some pumped-up avant-garde we do concede
that clock is best, river a gamble.


Stage Whispers

So perfect the permutations of the unflappable Mr.
George Ness-Elliot's oeuvre that… Let
me get this straight, you take a darling give
her heart is a time-honored method of dealing
with that sense of foreboding when surrounded
by stage whispers left, right & center? Maybe, but
with the neighborhood dogs barking 24/7 at one
or several of the local ghosts you'd do better
(at quelling that fear) if you sold sex
in a pup tent. Note: the fool in this poem
is Willem von Brasch. Would it please you
if I added a von to my name? If, a von, I accepted
my status as chattel? Worth how much
at the local slave market? Who be that, the ugly one
the punters ask. Surely not the guy who does
the Savornella impersonation at the Follies B. –
those bonfires of the vanities, that trial by fire gone wrong
they hung the bastard. Not likely, this guy's a voluptuary,
a would-be decadent in the style of the Parisian Hashishans,
Gautier & that lot. Which school
should I send my mother to? Pickaninny High
or Ibu Grammar? Not much difference, in both
they zero in on pork morphology, every table
in the cafeteria doubling as a hog market, buy one
get one free. Ha Ha, you're about as funny as
a scolding wife in a barber shop. Short back & sides,
I went home with gold in my teeth. OK, so I'm willing
(& able) to use a shank. Does that make me
a has-been or a newbie on the block? That frock
you're wearing, isn't it the one that the Sundance Kid
was caught dead in? In for a tenner my gourmet instinct
pits Mother Porridge against Father Toast, guess
who wins? All along it was Bigger Tom who played
the sucker card, dad dumbed-down, outsourced
to Bacon Farm. In Harm's way, no coin (of any realm)
will buy me out & that darling, well, forget about her
she'll love it when I succumb to stage whispers, left
right & center.


Huff & Puff

How many genders now? 47
& counting. If it's not too much trouble
I'd like to be the 48th, a chance to wear my babble
out in public. Look! He's wearing a babble! How
cutting edge is that?
                                A bit player
between pig & wolf I can't wait
to get under the knife, another drive-through life
in thrall (is it with or to?) cut-rate surgeons although
that pickpocket stew that they serve up
with its no meat, no pick policy does
get on my nerves I'd love to fill the pockets
of those snow-white gowns with stones & send them
on their merry way.
                                Huff & puff
all they like they won't be coming back
in my just-born (again) life with its muscle-share
with the Keeper of Fall & Scatter who's minding me,
my business with belly-up going as great as guns
in High School U.S.A.
                                     Force feed the bastards, all of them
with the stuff of art, nourishment to hang
on a public wall where everyone can see it. Look!
He's made a gender babble. How cutting edge is that!


Philip Hammial has had 32 poetry collections published. His poems have appeared in 31 poetry anthologies (in seven countries) & in over 100 journals in sixteen countries. His most recent collection, Detroit & Selected Poems, was published by Sheep Meadow Press in mid 2018. He has represented Australia at fourteen international poetry festivals, most recently at Poetry Africa 2016 in Durban, SA. In 2009/10 he was the Australian writer-in-residence for six months at the Cité International des Arts in Paris.

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