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As a tribute to Charles Bukowski, here are a few of his poems.

and here's his self portrait of inner man.


an unkind poem

they go on writing
pumping out poems-
young boys and college professors
wives who drink wine all afternoon
while their husbands work,
they go on writing
the same names in the same magazines
everybody writing a little worse each year,
getting out a poetry collection
and pumping out more poems
it's like a contest
it is a contest
but the prize is invisible.

they won't write short stories or articles
or novels
they just go on
pumping out poems
each sounding more and more like the others
and less and less like themselves,
and some of the young boys weary and quit
but the professors never quit
and the wives who drink wine in the afternoons
never ever ever quit
and new young boys arrive with new magazines
and there is some correspondence with lady or men poets
and some fucking
and everything is exaggerated and dull.

when the poems come back
they retype them
and send them off to the next magazine on the list,
and they give READINGS
all the readings they can
for free most of the time
hoping that somebody will finally know
finally applaud them
finally congratulate and recognize their
talent
they are so sure of their genius
there is so little self-doubt,
and most of them live in North Beach or New York City,
and their faces are like their poems:
alike,
and they know each other and
gather and hate and admire and choose and discard
and keep pumping out more poems
more poems
more poems
the contest of the dullards:
tap tap tap, tap tap, tap tap tap, tap tap...


my groupie

I read last Saturday in the
redwoods outside of Santa Cruz
and I was about 3/4's finished
when I heard a long high scream
and a quite attractive
young girl came running toward me
long gown & divine eyes of fire
and she leaped up on the stage
and screamed: "I WANT YOU!
I WANT YOU! TAKE ME! TAKE
ME!"

I told her, "look, get the hell
away from me."
but she kept tearing at my
clothing and throwing herself
at me.
"where were you," I
asked her, "when I was living
on one candy bar a day and
sending short stories to the
Atlantic Monthly?"

she grabbed my balls and almost
twisted them off. her kisses
tasted like shitsoup.
2 women jumped up on the stage
and
carried her off into the
woods.
I could still hear her screams
as I began the next poem.

maybe, I thought, I should have
taken her on stage in front
of all those eyes.
but one can never be sure
whether it's good poetry or
bad acid.


the history of one tough motherfucker

he came to the door one night, wet thin beaten and
terrorized
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway
and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said,"not much
chance...give him these pills...his backbone
is crushed, but is was crushed before and somehow
mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at
these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets
are still there...also, he once had a tail, somebody
cut it off..."

I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough

one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.

"you can make it," I said to him.

he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up.

you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left...

and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!"

but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"

"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"

I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...

it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
graphed together.

he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.


to the whore who took my poems

some say we should keep personal remorse from the
poem,
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have
my
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn't you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I'm not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there'll always be mony and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much
poetry.


be kind

we are always asked
to understand the other person's
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious.

one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
with
kindliness,
especially if they are
aged.

but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
badly
because they have
lived
out of focus,
they have refused to
see.

not their fault?
whose fault?
mine?

I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
fear.

age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
wasted
life

among so many
deliberately
wasted
lives

is.


Maintained by Naveen Agnihotri. For more Bukowski links, check out the pages at charm.net or realbeer.com.