Hymns of Thanksgiving at the Existentialist Café – Phillip Hall

(after Soren Kierkegaard & Philip Glass)



lit from behind

the shoulder     a porthole

onto black woollen turtleneck     a single profile

of Sisyphus spurred on to evermore

fear and trembling     scales

of uncooperative melancholia – teardrops

in the furnace



resume composition

and resign to insult     or

surrender to

herd virtue – nerve is




after the shudder of three days silence

Abraham laid his hand

on the boy’s head and drew

his knife

this is the burden

of loving a god – narcissism strikes deep

it starts when you sleep



to cast aside

living like a cipher

in the crowd     as bad faith

(to be Caesar     or nothing)

to dump cargo

in order to drive the price     to window dress

domestic violence

as Torah proofs for faith     these are cowardly

haggling over what is fair and square – all the years

I’ve given you     thinking you wanted me



conversations between left and right

hands     mercurial sonorities

like the stronghold

of chords

the ambient starkness and sweep

of a cutback     anguished drone – why

does someone     have to die



collaboration is the revelator in the canon

of Glass

where too much freedom is a mechanism of

oppression     and anxiety is

the main course

a treat of yoga with vegetarian pie – it’s time

we made time     just for talking



providence is unwelcome asylum

in this café of

milk and honey

and a dying son’s wounds     for our fragility

only underscore a father’s

heart of stone

who seems to never turn the other cheek

in a cosmos where despair is unforgivable – self-medicate

with cold gin     as red scriptures

are no heaven-sent knocking     at your door

About the contributor

Phillip Hall lives in Melbourne, where he is a passionate member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. His publications include Sweetened in Coals (Ginninderra Press, 2014), Borroloola Class (IPSI, 2018), Fume (UWAP, 2018) and (as editor) Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Blank Rune Press, 2015). He also publishes the e-journal Burrow: https://oldwaterratpublishing.com.

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