God and Smokes – Philip Vermaas

At the village circle,
on the corner
at the petrol station,
I saw a man long mad.
He stood and ranted at the sky,
seeing no one on earth,
and everyone on earth
crossed the street
or kept looking forward
while passing him.

There was fever
in his bulging eyes.
He shook his hands
at the heavens;
a biblical madman
in hobo clothes,
arguing with God
in words unintelligible
to pedestrians like me.

No one gave him a second look.

Back with my bottle
and a fresh pack of smokes,
I stopped and asked him,
“What are you talking about?”

he stepped back,
forced from the heavens
and giving God’s ear a rest.

“No one gives me anything,” he said.

“Here,” I said,
and gave him two cigarettes
from the fresh pack.

He looked at me
as though I should
have given more.

I gave him another five.

It took seven cigarettes
for him to lose the will
to look at me or keep
ranting at the heavens.
Between his turning away
and his fixed bug-eyed scorn,
he almost nodded goodbye
as he walked away.

I’ve seen him since,
he’s sometimes there
muttering or ranting.
Now I cross the road
or walk right past him;
he sees no one.
His is a reverie
of foolish despair.

I would’ve given
two smokes every time
to talk a minute with him,
but he demanded five more,

and his madness
is no longer interesting.

It’s the madness of
a selfish man.

3 thoughts on “God and Smokes – Philip Vermaas

  1. The last submitted poem from Philip Vermaas, I also agree with Bruce and Mig about the Buk bent, but he’s got his own remarkable voice.

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