Unpublished poems

It takes guts
– by Philip Mercatori (heteronym of De Waal Venter)

I gutted the article by Woody Guthrie
on metaphors in poetry;
that’s to say
I metaphorically slashed open its stomach
to get to the inside –
to the crux of the matter.

I had a gut feeling
caused by my enteric nervous system,
or nabhi, the Manipur chakra,
draining blood from my abdomen
in order to load the big muscle sets,
leaving an uncomfortable hollow feeling;
a gut feeling that I would find
something I’d known before
but couldn’t express or consciously apply –
and I was right.

As Mr Guthrie wrote so tellingly:
you don’t find a metaphor,
it sniffs you out instead.

It’s a silent beast, moving in the night,
akin to basilisks, chimeras, Tokoloshe and jackal-headed gods.
You don’t see it coming,
you know you’ve been taken
when blood flees your stomach.

It isn’t often
that a poet can make sense
of blood and guts.


The third centre in our subtle system is called “nabhi” or “Manipur” chakra. Its physical location is at about the level of the navel. It looks after several important aspects of our being. Physically ,it deals with our organs of digestion ( such as the stomach and intestines), psychologically it deals with our sense of satisfaction and spiritually it deals both with our “prosperity”, “generosity” as well as with our “dharma” or our innate sense of right and wrong.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The literary concept of heteronym, invented by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, refers to one or more imaginary character(s) created by a writer to write in different styles. Heteronyms differ from noms de plume (or pseudonyms, from the Greek “False Name”) in that the latter are just false names, while the former are characters having their own supposed physiques, biographies and writing styles.

In Pessoa’s case, there are at least 70 heteronyms (according to the latest count by Pessoa’s editor Teresa Rita Lopes); some of them know each other, and criticise and translate each other’s works. Pessoa’s three chief heteronyms are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos; the latter two consider the former their master. There are also two whom Pessoa called semi-heteronyms, Bernardo Soares and the Baron of Teive, who are semi-autobiographical characters who write in prose, «a mere mutilation» of the Pessoa personality. There is, lastly, an orthonym, Fernando Pessoa, the namesake of the author, who also considers Caeiro his master.
The heteronyms dialogue with each other and even with Pessoa in what he calls «the theatre of being» or «drama in people». They sometimes intervened in Pessoa’s social life: during Pessoa’s only attested romance, a jealous Campos wrote letters to the girl, who enjoyed the game and wrote back.

Pessoa, also an amateur astrologue, elaborated horoscopes of his main heteronyms in order to determine their personalities. Ricardo Reis, for instance, was supposedly born in Lisbon, in September 19, 1887 at 4:05 pm.


Philip Mercatori

18 February 2010

Philip Mercatori (1940 – ) (Heteronym of De Waal Venter) is perhaps the most elusive poet (if he can be called a poet) on the South African scene. The only solid traces that can be found of him is work he published in the literary magazine “Wurm” in the sixties, along with Wopko Jensma, another phantom.

An exhibition of Dada literature in the sixties, in the Iziko museum in Cape Town, earlier this year, showed some of the poetry of these secretive poets.

It is rumoured that Mercatori works for Craig Venter’s genome project. He is said to be living among the Khoi, San or Bushmen people in the Khalagari, where he is tracing the most ancient human genome.

This poem was sent via an e-mail address that seems to have been cancelled immediately afterwards.


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