Philip Hammial 5 poems


Misshapen is the ocelot. Plausible
is the ocelot that achieves my face.
Come what may & it does: my Lascivious
is ransacked. A mistake. It’s resuscitated.
About my face this ransacking/resuscitation
changes nothing. Fools from the wise so easily 
differentiated (for fools potions are trophies)
Am I too harsh? Criticise all you want
I’ll still maintain that ten grandmothers
were never enough – family groups skimming
over water like thrown stones (naughty me). What
in this poem is called expenditure in yours
is called destiny (I’m only guessing).  As for
the Hereafter let it flourish in it’s own time.
Speaking of which, should frankincense take

precedence over myrh, or vs? Me? on this
I have no opinion. It would probably be
more to the point if we made time to discuss
deficit as a general condition: if Less
was More I’d take it up (carefully) & make
of it a lovely habit. Which suggests (with all
due respect) that it might be time to discuss
your habiliment it’s too head-over-heels, too
of a piece with sky. A sty (eye, not pig or filth)
won’t keep the money changers guessing but
it will keep Ms Maude at a distance, that proverbial
stick. Proviso: swan song. All at sea: you can wish
you weren’t but…Pending the bearing or not of arms
if not an ocelot what orchestrates my face?



A rough four weeks, up & running now.
All windows to drivers are free until 10/01/37.
Any time you’re ready to spring one on me feel free to.
Seems as though we’ve all been crackin’ wise.
Got down with the fairy crowd, no problem with gossamer.
I’m ready for some of that good ole melly-melly.
Could learn to love the stink of rotten-to-the-core.
Lucille, Daddy wants you home.
Was it me got you smiling?
Devotion got me comin’, got me goin’.
I never was a humpin’ man & I can prove it.
When I sought to sneak a fly the air got thick.
You might try but you can’t deny the crawl factor.
You the best God damn song-fodder I ever see.
Got a lifetime of yackin’ to cure; never too late.
A hayride yodel: the sum total of my talent.
After Jane there was Bayou Bertha & Geraldine B.
The only thing I’m hankerin’ for is a Sue County love fest.
Your mama might have dimples but mine has ripples.
One of those fractal whistlers just came on board.
Got your two-bob ready for… Go ahead, name it.
I might be dobbin’, might be bobbin’, you guess which.
Big-eyed me plus … sealed lips.
Just found that Wabash Cannon Ball I lost way back when.
You want the Big Bite Experience? Wind that thing up tight.
Found guilty of a Number Five Folly.
When Doomsday dawned we were out pulling corn.
We were twenty-seven up when the house fell.
Were gab-sick when the radio died.
As for the alternative: scratch & run.
I’m better on a cycle (bi) than you’ll ever be on tri.
You dig the ditch I’ll tumble in.
Thought you might appreciate my neo-Goth style.
Had a chance to cheat & took it.
Get too close I’ll birch-rod you.
Billie Bird barking up the wrong tree again.
This champ’s a chip off some old block.
I do believe you just got sloppy.
Juke joint just got jolly.
Ninety miles out of Atlanta: Jubilee’s unavoidable.
We’ll open the show with: No money for schoolin’.
Shindig appraisal’s my forte.
Doo wop on Country Radio: save the last dance for me.
It sounds like a 7 four D. Bet you don’t know what that is.
Mean Street sunk in lethargy.
Could you stand in for Percy Lee?
Can I stand in for myself?
What’s needed here is more puff.
Body’s here; Feeling’s not.
One more line like that & you’re off the chart.
In that case we’ll do Foolin’ Leroy. 
Solid Steel in that boy’s head.
That jaw makes me nervous.
Played the nurse for a fool, the doctor too.
He went & told my mother how I failed to law abide.
When the Outlanders landed on Irene’s farm
………..she welcomed them with tea & scones.
Swing western or be cowed.
What a handsome milieu.
It always starts out clean.
In Detroit’s book what you read is what you get.
Jesus on skis, clap him home.


Finders Keepers

Cop a plea, a feel, a coin, a Roman coin
in a compost pile with exposure
on both sides. You, you’re
on the green side (the right side)
of a chalcedony which, if properly set, would it
be perfect as bling for an advocate of sweatshop ethics?
Probably not. At least not in this life where, if the hostess
insists (anything to keep the peace) you’ll take part
in the sing-along: ping (pong), long
(in the tooth), wrong (on both counts), etc. If
you had any decency, compassion, sense
of justice, etc. you’d put that coin
back where you found it.


Slush Fund

Shush Sue. Shush Paul. Slush fund fun, barrels
of, is the clatter  of seven sick simpaticos engrossed
in a death-warmed-over bob & weave. Would
Jim Dandy approve? No, obviously not but
Snow White would & that’s what matters; she’d say
Let’s bag it as a supplement to the sacramental
slip-ups that punctuate our otherwise boring
days. Ouch, that hurt. Apparently what
I had coming, my sympathy as patently false
as the wonder I feign at Thunder’s clap
& sizzle. Didn’t feel a thing. Would Stagger Lee
approve? No, but Cinderella would because
the slipper fits. So what do you really want, my
lovely; that princess stuff is so old hat? Fox wheels
on a real carriage? How about the coachman stops
at the next roadside booth for a psych evaluation:
of course you want your sisters dead; not sure
if that’s Oedipal, but who cares. What matters
is that you’ve got the upper (whip) hand; so ply it quick
let’s coult the welts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… For sure
it’s a night to remember. Would Cruella approve?
No, but Mary would & she’d have some compassion
for me – still wide awake, I’ve run out of lambs
to count. So should I assume that it’s me, that I’m
a sick simpatico, a fool caught in a bob & weave? –
roped, gagged, flogged. Slush fund fun.



Private eye Suyin when she whispers
it sounds like love. “Got love, can’t even
give it away.” This gamut of agglomerations run,
these pressure points are just a side show. The real
McCoy is in the hands of the guy in the doorway
trying to keep a match lit for P.E. Sue “who approaches
at a snail’s pace”. While he’s waiting
take a sip from this flask, & insist that the balcony
is essential, with or without Juliette. Looks like
that cigarette’s going to stay unlit, the dead guy
in the dumpster demanding Sue’s attention (& boy
is he ripe). Neatly packaged in a double-breasted suit
two sizes too large. Let’s call him Rooming-House
Charlie. AKA John Doe. And two more
under the EL. Someone don’t like bums. Anyway
Sue’s on the case, so not to worry. We can focus
on the above-mentioned love. As the elder
you’ve got priority, but if you’re not interested
I certainly am, Sue on my case most welcome.


All five poems are from Phil Hammial’s new collection,  Inveigling Snafus, Island Press 2021. Copies may be ordered by contacting Phil on

Philip Hammial has had thirty-four collections of poetry published. His sixteenth collection, In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter’s Children, was short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize in 2004, as was his fourteenth collection, Bread, in 2001. In 2010 his twenty-first collection, Skin Theory, was short-listed for the ACT Poetry Book Prize. He has represented Australia at fourteen international poetry festivals.  In 2006 an anthology of Australian poetry in French that Hammial edited – 25 poetes australiens – was published by Ecrits des Forges in Trois Rivieres, Quebec and Le Temps des Cerises in Paris. He was the Australian writer-in-residence at the Cité International des Arts in Paris for six months in 2009/2010


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