UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 05/2012

PHILIP VERMAAS

Gonzo Autobiography

To write about yourself
can be a form of misrepresentation;
to readers, yes,
but because you
must have first
misrepresented yourself
to yourself:
believed the lie
that let the ink flow.

This puzzle
makes me ask myself
who I really am,
and when I put a thought on paper
I then check it
against the man
who hopes he's
the man about whom
he's reading.

This might be itself misleading,
for I don't always think this,
don't always hope it's true,
and often,
on discovering
I've written something not bad
that's mostly inaccurate,
I then pretend to myself
I'm only an optimist
and an excusable fool,
so I can gladly send
the false thoughts out
as if they could be true.


A Private Celebration

I've got three hundred and ten Rand
in my pocket
and nothing else anywhere.
For those of you in Dollars and Pounds,
it's not a lot:
forty Dollars, thirty quid,
somewhere there;
figure it out
if you're bored.

Someone owes me money
but she's not the kind to pay up easy.
I did some work for her,
sent the bill,
then told her I didn't want to screw her again.
The few bucks I'll get are still a cold date
and faked cool-face
quiet face-off away.

How clever am I:
out of flesh and maybe pocket
just 'cause I can't stand the idea
of sticking it into her again.

That's not even
what I'm celebrating.


It's my own fault,
I had more and spent it
on tobacco and better whisky;
bragger's whisky,
and I'm only
bragging to myself.
This is not
my beggar's usual,
this is two-Rand more
on limited-special whisky
which once, in the eighties,
could ring a Bell's change.
(No, that's too smart-arse,
let's just say:
it's in the recognizable but
not for royalty range.

Although, you never know,
they can be cheap bastards
and the heaviest drinkers.)


Of this half-step up stuff,
there's an extra bottle in the cupboard.
The weekend closed-store is coming
so it's half a bottle for Saturday
and the rest
on the day of rest:
well, such a day
for those in sober-seeming
god-drinking clothes;
for me, it's the day of only
The
rest.

By some lunatic magazine
I had some poems published
and I'm celebrating,
quietly,
in a sectioned-off room I can't leave:
the door alarm controls are in the main house.
There's no getting out.
In,
on the other hand,
is going a glass of whisky
five times my usual measure.
I poured in good spirit,
oh yes,
the last third of
the current bottle.

I've only got three hundred and ten Rand
in my pocket,
no guarantee of another cent;
and it's a glass which,
by the time I'm at this line,
is close to finished.
Which means,
if you've made it this far,
you have to know
what a celebration this is.

I've just read through this,
placed a few commas
and changed
more wily punctuation marks;
and, what do you know,
there goes the glass's last drop.
It's into the cupboard
to borrow from tomorrow
a usual measure
while I italicize
this last paragraph.



Professional copywhore, excessive drinker, lustful fool, fledgeling editor, dilettante animator, occasional graphic designer, fatalistic romantic, self-indulgent poet, failing novelist, borderline mendicant and bad son of the world.







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