Authors: Charles Bukowski
Edited by John Martin
These poems are part of an archive of unpublished work that Charles Bukowski left to be published after his death.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to John Martin, who edited these poems.
welcome to my wormy hell.
the music grinds off-key.
fish eyes watch from the wall.
this is where the last happy shot was
the mind snaps closed
like a mind snapping
we need to discover a new will and a new
we’re stuck here now
listening to the laughter of the
my temples ache with the fact of
I get up, move about, scratch
I’m a pawn.
I am a hungry prayer.
my wormy hell welcomes you.
hello. hello there. come in, come on in!
plenty of room here for us all,
we can only blame ourselves so
come sit with me in the dark.
long ago, oh so long ago, when
I was trying to write short stories
and there was one little magazine which printed
and the lady editor there usually sent me
encouraging rejection slips
so I made a point to
read her monthly magazine in the public
I noticed that she began to feature
the same writer
for the lead story each
it pissed me off because I thought that I could
write better than that
his work was facile and bright but it had no
you could tell that he had never had his nose rubbed into
life, he had just
glided over it.
next thing I knew, this ice-skater-of-a-writer was
he had begun as a copy boy
on one of the big New York
(how the hell do you get one of those
then he began appearing in some of the best
and in some of the respected literary
then after a couple of early books
out came a little volume, a sweet
novelette, and he was truly
it was a tale about high society and
a young girl and it was
delightful and charming and just a bit
Hollywood quickly made a movie out of
then the writer bounced around Hollywood
from party to party
for a few years.
I saw his photo again and again:
a little elf-man with huge
and he always wore a long dramatic
but soon he went back to New York and to all the
he went to every important party thereafter for years
some that weren’t very
then he stopped writing altogether and just went
he drank or doped himself into oblivion almost
his once slim frame more than doubled in
his face grew heavy and he no longer looked
like the young boy with the quick and dirty
wit but more like an
the scarf was still on display but his hats were
too large and came down almost to his
all you noticed was his
the society ladies still liked to drag him
around New York
one on each arm
drinking like he did, he didn’t live
to enjoy his old age.
and was quickly
until somebody found what they claimed was his secret
diary / novel
and then all the famous people in
New York were very
and they should have been worried because when it
out came all the dirty
but I still maintain that he never really did
write; just what and
when and about
ever so long ago, after reading
one of his short stories,
after dropping the magazine to the floor,
Jesus Christ, if this is what they
from now on
I might as well write for
the rats and the spiders
and the air and just for
which, of course, is exactly what
my friend Tom, he liked to come over
and he’d say, “let’s go get a coffee.”
and my girlfriend would say, “you guys
going to talk that literary stuff again?”
and we’d go to this place where you paid
for your first coffee and all the refills were
and we’d get a seat by the window and he
Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Dos
Passos mainly but others got in there
too: e.e. cummings, Ezra Pound, Dreiser,
Jeffers, Céline and so forth.
although I will admit I was mostly a
listener and wondered what he was
really getting at, if anything, I
continued to listen and
drink coffee after
once he said, “look, I’ll take you to the
place Fitzgerald stayed at for a while
during his Hollywood period.”
“all right,” I said and we got into his
car and he drove me there and pointed
“Fitzgerald lived there.”
“all right,” I said and then he drove us
back for more coffee.
Tom was truly excited about these
literary figures of the past.
I was too, to an extent,
but as Tom talked on and on about
and the coffees continued unabated
my interest began to wane, more than
I began to want to get rid of
it was easy.
one day I wrote a poem about Tom
and it was published and he read
and after that
we enjoyed no more coffees
Tom had been working on a
biography of me
and that ended that.
then another writer came along
and he drank my wine
and didn’t talk about Hemingway,
Fitzgerald, Faulkner, etc.,
he talked about himself
and ended up writing a not-very-
I should have stuck with Tom.
no, I should have gotten rid of
both of them.
which is exactly what I have