Philip Hammial

(1937 - / Detroit, Michigan / United States)

Prey - Poem by 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.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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