Michael Steven

from The Hatchet Blade
     (after Catullus)

[ After Leaving The Poetry Reading ]

Dear Thallus,
                you giant mincer―
you’re softer than a poodle or a bean bag
filled with rotten stuffing . Your verses are slack
like an invalid’s prick.
                                              Thallus, come on,
take a good look around you : those who don’t yawn,
are laughing in their drinks or rolling joints in the bathroom.
                Thallus, you muppet, go home,
                               do yourself a favour
before they finally cotton-on : hand Bob Dylan his line back
                & save yourself further embarrassment.

[ Drinking Alone at Scorpio’s Island Bar ]

Fabullus, dearest of friends―
dearest of all in this wretched city.
Let my pride be yours entirely.

Ten minutes. Still no less of a miracle
to have your clammy little claws
inside that poor girl’s knickers.

Bambi-eyed. A hipster high on coke―
no doubt! Soon as she spotted you leering
how quickly you ditched poor Catullus.

I’m drunk on the money you paid me to leave.
Sitting at the bar, scrawling on napkins:
these women avoid me like I’m Gauguin’s ghost.

Indeed. Tomorrow I’ll wake alone
with a thirty-dollar hangover―
you’ll bark down the phone like a dog.

But don’t go calling yourself a player,
Fabullus. All the wines of Marlborough
won’t win your lost charm back.

Let the anguish be mine. Not shared.
When she won’t return a text message
who else will listen to you blubber.

[ To A Villa Owner ]

Dear Furius,
                your renovated villa,
by far the most spacious of all on Richmond Rd :
pay no mind to any man who says
you live in a morgue.
                                              Furius, tell me―
with central heating & an outdoor pizza oven,
why are you always cold? Don’t go blaming ‘relentless southerlies’,
                or a ‘lack of exposure’
to afternoon sunlight, Furius : what’s making you shiver
                is the five-grand bill every month.

[ The Anzac Ave Bathhouse ]

You’re reputed to be the filthiest
of all the bathhouse cretins, Vibennius.
Keeping yourself out-of-sight
until someone new walks in the sauna.
Always first rat to have his teeth in the pie crust―
you’re on their thighs before they’ve even sat down.
But this is no place to be hiding now
having nibbled off more than you should
from the wrong man’s dinner plate:
Mamurra, the campest psycho in the city,
keeps making noise about some $20K loan―
(says he tattooed the interest rate in red ink across your buttocks)
Vibennius: for once take my advice,
make sure you’re on the next plane to Melbourne
& number yourself among the lucky
if your back’s faced to him when he finds you,
that way you’ll never know where the bullet(s) entered
before you’re rolled in a shag-pile carpet,
before you’re lumped in the boot of a black Mercedes.
Vibennius: there’ll be no use for wine & honey
when you’re halfway down the road to Hades.

Michael Steven is the author of Bartering Lines & Centreville Springs, both published by Kilmog Press, Dunedin, New Zealand. He persists in Auckland.

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