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Philip Hammial

Three poems


Ball a jack? Not
in this weather. A welcome worn
as thin as ice, I’m not about
to skate on it while Sally Ann kick-boxes her way

to fame & fortune. Are the clouds in her life
moving to music? Possibly, but
you couldn’t prove it by me. Without ambition,
I’m finding it impossible to get up from this chair

& kill the cat. Of a metaphysical nature, the argument
is resolved with a sucker punch, yours truly
the recipient. And to think I started off

with some mental leverage. In my dotage an utterly
useless source of grammar for the women in my life,
may sheep become a workable substitute for sleep.


Charlie Chaplin went to Dance
to teach the ladies how to france. How to chance
was not included in the curriculum. A shame
because here I am stuck in a pint-sized lift

in Paris with Martine & her brain-damaged triplets
screaming blue murder in a futile exercise to invoke
the blue yonder that we won’t see again until God
knows when & I don’t know what to do. Borrow

Mallarmé’s dice & throw them — snake-eyes
& we’ll be rescued by the pompiers in just
a few more minutes? If Charlie were here would he —

know what to do? Have a cheek to cheek
with Martine while I gag the brats?
Sounds like a good plan to me.


Can swallowed pride make up for the loss (by
theft) of my collection of bicycle bells? Probably
not unless those fairy lights in the forest (another
unwarranted hallucination) are extinguished before

my mother, god bless her, deems it an act of charity
to take the downed pilot to church in a wheelchair
as a consolation prize & only because I’m refusing
to go. I will, mother, I’ll go. I’ll swallow my pride

& go even if I have to cut a swath through the forest
to get there & discover in the process that the fairy lights
are in fact the twinkling eyes of the Japanese pilots

who have crashed & survived, God knows how,
& bring them with me, a procession of suicidal maniacs
on bicycles, bells ringing, get out of our way.

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