Poetry in Hell

by Greg Gerding


with illustrations by Phil Merkle




58 pages (1994)

trade paper, perfect bound

ISBN 0-9637704-1-1



About the Book

Here in this book, are selected works from eight handwritten volumes of poetry and prose, evolved from and dedicated to a bold new direction in creative writing. Greg Gerding defies the political state of art in contemporary society, writing not only for art's sake but for the sake of the individual. Clearly from a man's point of view, yet drawn from the depths of emotion, Gerding's work declares the state of the soul of modern man. Having been a prominent figure in the Washington, D.C., underground art scene, Gerding is best known and loved for his honesty, for his willingness to open himself up and expose his wounds to even the casual listener or reader, and for his frankness dealing with painful subjects. One smiles at the familiarity of finding who and what we are portrayed in Gerding's verses, comfortable with what we have always known and, at the same time, made nervous by its closeness.



Not for Sale • No Sense of Direction • Five Cigarettes and a Pen • I Hate It When • The Old Trout • Shortly Before Death • Petty Fears and Philosophies Slurred at a Bare Bar Between a Middle Easterner and an American Who Just Won't Go Very Far • The Grift • I Sit Here Imaging • Pissing and Picking • Untitled • Chip Away • Something Is Pinching • Mike and Dike • Reading Shit with a Sharp Edge • A Six-Pack and Who Gives a Flying [****] • 15:45 to 15:53 • Free Dreaming I Naked of Everything Stop Sex



Reading Shit with a Sharp Edge


...thinking about how strange it was to be recognized in a

small place in Adams Morgan and receiving praise—

    for the shit which I just read while drunk,

    for the shit which was recently written drunk—

and I take it in as people talk to me and surround me and

ask questions and offer advice,

and I just sit there grinning and drunk.


People go up and dedicate their shit to me and read their

shit sober, their shit which was obviously, painstakingly,

written sober.

                     I am jealous.

                     And they thank me? I nod, drunk.

I wish somebody would buy me a beer, but, they don't,

they just talk and talk and talk to me, surrounding me with

words. Don't get me wrong, they are words I appreciate,

but they are words which I don't feel worthy of being

surrounded with because

                                      I write drunk, and

                                      I think they know I write drunk,

because I write stuff about being drunk.


...I make my way home by breaking through the words

and surrounding myself with my car and moving towards


         I get home.

         Nobody's home.

I pull out my book and some unidentifiable shit is stuck on

it—so I remove it with the same sharp razor I use to shave my

face with. I cut into the book and remove the shit by

removing some of the covering with my sharp razor blade.

And I imagine that it must be the same kind of sharp

intellect that must cut into the covering to get past all the

shit.... And I yearn for something I can feel proud of

because it was

                      written painstakingly and

                      written during a fit of sobriety and

something which I feel I invested a lot of time in,


Instead, I find myself shaving my book, in the bathroom,


wondering why and

wondering about a lot of things.



Copyright © 1999 by Red Dragon Press. All rights reserved.