Published in Overland Issue 211 Winter 2013 Uncategorized Trapeze Philip Hammial As we move (crawl? march?) through this poem I suggest that we all carry black umbrellas because (though you may not have noticed) it’s raining objects, all of them unspeakable. The better to hear you with, how many flowers can I stuff in this mouth? They’re for Charles crushed by a carriage wheel, some drunken aristocrat. In sorrow, in sympathy, I’ve had my ear (left) removed surgically. It’s here in this box. I’m going to leave it for you to find. Hint: a hotel room with a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling. If you can’t find it it’s because you’ve got your hair combed over your right eye, a fashion statement I don’t condone. Another hint: tram tracks bisect this room. It’s not an authorised stop but the conductor, if spoken to with respect, might stop anyway. Meanwhile, on our way to the dining car, we’ve entered a carriage chock- a-block with boxers, all with their gloves on & all punch-drunk, so much so that the rest of this poem will be in the collective voice of fifty-seven brain- addled boxers. Haste in lust combined willy-nilly with King Wind’s seventh blow will probably upset the Bishop, his morning prayers cut short like amputated fingers all pointing that-a-way (to the dining car). Why I never see you just strollin’? Always in a rush to up & away somewhere like those two acrobats in a poem I wrote in ’88 – Trapeze Takes Your Photograph. Badly crafted, a source of embarrassment, it recently reappeared in an unauthorized (by me) anthology: The Nuptials of Bric-a-brac. God help me, that poem, meant to be a portrait of the artist pushing his mother to market in a wheelbarrrow (spelled with three ‘ r’s, why?), was a thinly-disguised account of one of my biggest faux pas: Having been treated to a lunch by the station-master of the Babylon (Iraq) train station (who didn’t speak English), he asked (in Arabic) the man with whom I’d come (hitchhiking from Baghdad) why I was insulting him, my legs crossed, showing him the sole of my shoe, an explanation that I was a non-believer from a far-away country sufficient to put him at ease. Tease: who can we? That pretentious freak who sports spats, bow tie, bowler hat & monocle? Yes, let’s at him. What century does he think he’s living in? And his poetry – about as cutting edge as a cuticle on Richard Nixon’s accusing index finger. ‘Chainsaws are unforgiving’ (Greg, a tree surgeon, at the top of a tree shouting down to the new guy). ‘I’m sure you’d rather hold your beer with five fingers than two’ at the local pub (Lawson): whose widdershins wedding is this? – against time, that tunnel, that basement window-well where my imaginary playmate lived when I was four so much a part of the family that my mother set a plate & silverware for him at every meal but when we moved from Ann Arbor to Plymouth he didn’t follow us & when I returned to that house a few weeks ago he wasn’t there Wonder what he’s been doing all these (70) years & will he come to say goodbye when I lay me down to sleep for the last time? Philip Hammial Philip Hammial has had twenty-eight poetry collections published. More by Philip Hammial Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays 2 First published in Overland Issue 228 3 February 20233 February 2023 Fiction Fiction | Romeo and Juliet II: Haunted rentals Georgia Symons The hauntings are actually quite flamboyant here, though. Yeah, come in, come in. Not like my friend Moya’s house—it just has a tool shed that sometimes isn’t there and that’s it. So boring. Yes, you can keep your shoes on. 2 First published in Overland Issue 228 2 February 20233 February 2023 The university Deadly word games: universities and defining antisemitism Nick Riemer In a few weeks, Vice-Chancellors will be discussing a request by a group of federal politicians to endorse the latest weapon in Zionists’ longstanding bid to suppress criticism of Israeli apartheid on campus—the highly controversial definition of antisemitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Their decision will constitute a watershed moment for universities’ already somewhat threatened credibility as centres of independent analysis and truth-telling.