A valetudinarian’s ‘crisis’ in a time of COVID19

by Phillip Hall

  for the progressive bluegrass of Punch Brothers
            arranged in the old-fashioned way
                           (on a magic carpet
                    around a single mighty mic)
I am more indebted than ever to my partner safe at home
              but also, more a cock on the lookout
              whose ensemble overdrive is measured
              in teaspoons of vegemite or crushed garlic
              or in mugs of strong black coffee hiding
the bottle of pre-noon comeuppance that makes bearable
the reels and jigs of perfidy and moonshine
                                               soaked up in a sofa’s distressed leather:
I am unshaven, daggy
in worn black and grey tracksuit and
holey woollen socks, shying away from the world
dog-tired from that damned earworm jingle
                                                of what     I’ve become:
                 I wish to look at home
in check or plaid or flannel, to be practised
with power tools and solvents whilst commiserating
in a convivial evening’s ‘Hops of Guldenberg’
or amidst other such booze-soaked hymns
            but all I now get is an empty inbox
            as I turn over and over to ‘punch brothers punch
                                        with care’.

Welcome essay:
Punch Brothers is an American progressive bluegrass band made up of Chris Eldridge (on acoustic guitar), Paul Kowert (on double bass), Noam Pikelney (on banjo), Chris Thile (on mandolin) & Gabe Witcher (on fiddle). Music is a vital part of my life, and along with my family, has got me through many tough spots. Unfortunately, I am not always grateful of their help, which I sometimes confuse with meddling interference – depression is a stink.

Poet biography:
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). His newest book, Cactus, is forthcoming with Recent Work Press in 2021. He also co-publishes the e-journal Burrow: https://oldwaterratpublishing.com.

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