Authors: Charles Bukowski
like this, sitting in my shorts, listening to a tenor
all the way from Cleveland
garnering applause on the radio.
I’ve never been to Cleveland.
I sit here in my shorts on a humid night
now listening to Ravel with my gut hanging out
over my shorts.
my soft white gut.
I draw on this cigar, inhale, then blow
blue smoke as
I read a fan letter written to me from Japan.
then I rip it once, twice, three times, trash
young girls send me photos of their naked
blank-faced, I set my lighter to the photos,
turn them to twisted black
it’s midnight and I’m too dumb to
“oil and natural gas,” says the man on the radio,
“we need oil and natural gas
for the nation’s energy needs.”
“fuck you, buddy,” I say.
I scratch, yawn, rise, walk
to where my little refrigerator holds food
it takes me 7 steps to get there.
one for each decade.
did you know that
to this very day
nobody can figure out how
they built the
it was a good training ground out there
(although there were times
of fear and madness)
and there were times when it wasn’t kind
and there were times when my comrades were
it taught me also
that there was no bottom to life
you could always fall lower
into a bestial groveling
and when you reached
nobody cared or would ever
and then, with no feelings left, that was the strangest
feeling of them
so, today I got into my BMW, drove to my
bank and picked up my American Express
Gold Card. (I always promised myself that I’d
write about that when it
I know what people will say: “Chinaski! writing about
his American Express Gold Card! who gives a damn
or who cares that he’s now in
Who’s Who in America?
I can’t think of another poet who makes people as
angry as I do.
I enjoy it
knowing that we are all brothers and sisters
in a very unkind extended
and I also never forget that
what the circumstances,
the park bench is never that far away
from any one of
a reader writes from Germany
that a lady friend saw me interviewed
on tv and then
that to kiss my face would be a
I wrote back that
she might be right, I didn’t know,
I’d never actually tried
I don’t write with my
I use my fingers
and this old Olympia
and with all the luck
well, there, I just
it was a cold kiss
but a faithful
and now the machine
I love you too,
I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
they complain but never
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
I study these
they are my
fondly embracing mad hopes in my dreams the first intrusion
of day begins when that young cat of mine starts knocking
over and attacking things at 6:30 in the
morning. I rise to lead that frisky rascal down the
stairway and open the door where he always pauses
introspectively until I give him a gentle boot in the ass
and then he is gone into the blissful glory of the day while I then
climb back up the stairway to bed down again with wife who
has heard nothing who sleeps so still I must check
her breathing to make certain she’s alive and finding that
she’s o.k. I pull the covers up. I have the best hours of
sleep then before the long drive to the racetrack
one more time one more time and one more time again
until I get so old that the DMV will take away my driver’s
license and I will have to ride the bus out there
with the damned ghost people son-of-a-bitch what an
awful goddamned thought better to stay home with wife and
cats putter with paints a la Henry Miller and also
help with the weeding and the shopping while the last of
the sun slants in like a golden sword.
I need a light pine kitchen, a new freezer, a picture window,
a first-alert ready-light, a pair of jogging shoes, some real
excitement, a yellow banjo, hot chips, a spark, two love birds,
sheer stockings, a touch of miracle, a March star, a true woman, a
new fantasy, a spicy sky, a charmed quark, some luck, a
VISA card, a walrus, a sunset at the beach, a well-
seasoned cigar, an antelope, a racy subject, an ideal to fight for, a
rainbow, a halcyon holiday and
a winner in the first, a winner in the second, a winner in the
third, a winner in the fourth, a winner in the
hell, that’s what I got just now: a winner in the
I’m only guessing, of course, as
usual but here goes:
when the ladies gather over
cocktails they talk about
how their husbands tend to
stifle them, smother their creative
instinct, their natural joy,
their ultimate female
without their husbands they
would float free
and thrive and grow
as they were meant to do.
but ladies, I will tell you
when men gather they
never talk about their
we discuss the
or the new barmaid at
The Bat Cove Tavern
or about how Tyson would
kick Holyfield’s ass …
we have floated free …
giant macho soaring
the last hour at the typewriter is only
if you’ve had a lucky and
your time and effort have been
I feel good about the poems scattered
on the floor.
the door of this room is
and I can see out into the
see part of the city to
see many lights—yellow, white
see also the moving lights
of the cars
traveling south on the
the lights of this city
are not at rest,
they shimmer in the
a blue tree outside the
looms powerful and at
after so many nights
(like a few of my poems)
$650,000 home, swimming pool, tennis court,
sauna, 4 late-model cars, a starlet wife;
he was blond, young, broad-shouldered, great
smile, great sense of humor.
he was an investor, said his starlet wife.
but he always seemed to be at home.
while he was playing tennis with his friends
two plainclothes cops
it was in the papers the next day: he was a
hit man wanted for killing over fifty
what bothered the neighbors most was
not who would move in next
had he found time to do it?
what will you write about? he asks.
you no longer live with whores, you no
longer engage in barroom brawls, what
will you write about?
he seems to think that I’ve manufactured
a life to suit my typewriter
and if my life gets good
my writing will get bad.
I tell him that trouble will always
arrive, never worry about
he doesn’t seem to understand.
what will your readers
Norman Mailer still has
but you’re different,
not at all, I say,
we’re both about
he stares at me
sitting across from my lawyer, I
decide, at this time, one needs a good
lawyer, a tax accountant, a decent
auto mechanic, a sympathetic doctor and
a faithful wife, in order to
also, one needs some talent of one’s own,
very few friends, a good home security
system and the ability to sleep peacefully at
you need at least this much in order to
get by and naturally you also must
hope to evade a long illness and / or
senility; finally, you can only
pray for a quick clean finish with
very little subsequent mourning by everybody
sitting across from my lawyer, I
have these thoughts.
we are on the 16th floor of a downtown office
and I like my lawyer, he has fine eyes,
also, he has gotten my ass out of
(meanwhile, among other things, you also need
a plumber who doesn’t overbill and
an honest jockey who knows where the
finish line is.)
you need all the above (and more) before
you can go home with a clear mind, open a
wooden box labeled
, take one out, light it
and take a quick puff or two
before the bluebird leaves
before the snow melts,
and before the rain and the traffic
and our hurly-burly life
churn everything into
dark, dark, dark.
shrouds the moon.
the process is
once, I imagined that
in my old age
there would be
but not this:
as in the
I was not born to be
one with them
yet here I am
and that final
to comfort me.
so there’s no chance,
just this waiting,
the hours, the years,
climbing back up out of the ooze, out of
the thick black tar,
rising up again, a modern
you’re amazed at your good
somehow you’ve had more
than your share of second
hell, accept it.
what you have, you have.
you walk and look in the bathroom
at an idiot’s smile.
you know your luck.
some go down and never climb back up.
something is being kind to you.
you turn from the mirror and walk into the
you find a chair, sit down, light a cigar.
back from a thousand wars
you look out from an open door into the silent
Sibelius plays on the radio.
nothing has been lost or destroyed.
you blow smoke into the night,
tug at your right
baby, right now, you’ve got it