I know a woman
who keeps buying puzzles
pieces that finally fit
into some order.
she works it out
she solves all her
lives down by the sea
puts sugar out for the ants
in a better world.
her hair is white
she seldom combs it
her teeth are snaggled
and she wears loose shapeless
coveralls over a body most
women would wish they had.
for many years she irritated me
with what I consider her
like soaking eggshells in water
(to feed the plants so that
they’d get calcium).
but finally when I think of her
and compare it to other lives
more dazzling, original
I realize that she has hurt fewer
people than anybody I know
(and by hurt I simply mean hurt).
she has had some terrible times,
times when maybe I should have
helped her more
for she is the mother of my only
and we were once great lovers,
but she has come through
like I said
she has hurt fewer people than
anybody I know,
and if you look at it like that,
she has created a better world.
she has won.
“…when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountains and the sea and fire at the same time
He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.”
when you’re young
a pair of
in the closet
can fire your
when you’re old
a pair of shoes
I’ve come by, she says, to tell you
that this is it. I’m not kidding, it’s
over. this is it.
I sit on the couch watching her arrange
her long red hair before my bedroom
she pulls her hair up and
piles it on top of her head-
she lets her eyes look at
then she drops her hair and
lets it fall down in front of her face.
we go to bed and I hold her
speechlessly from the back
my arm around her neck
I touch her wrists and hands
feel up to
she gets up.
this is it, she says,
this will do. well,
I get up and walk her
to the door
just as she leaves
I want you to buy me
some high-heeled shoes
with tall thin spikes,
black high-heeled shoes.
no, I want them
I watch her walk down the cement walk
under the trees
she walks all right and
as the pointsettas drip in the sun
I close the door.
the words have come and gone,
I sit ill.
the phone rings, the cats sleep.
I am waiting to live,
waiting to die.
I wish I could ring in some bravery.
it’s a lousy fix
but the tree outside doesn’t know:
I watch it moving with the wind
in the late afternoon sun.
there’s nothing to declare here,
just a waiting.
each faces it alone.
Oh, I was once young,
Oh, I was once unbelievably
“ Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, ‘I’m not going to make it,’ but you laugh inside remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
“there are worse things than being alone but it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late.”
“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”
“Humanity, you never had it to begin with.”
“This is a world where everybody’s gotta do something. Ya know, somebody laid down this rule that everybody’s gotta do something, they gotta be something. You know, a dentist, a glider pilot, a narc, a janitor, a preacher, all that … Sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don’t wanna do. All the things that I don’t wanna be. Places I don’t wanna go, like India, like getting my teeth cleaned. Save the whale, all that, I don’t understand that …”
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
~ Charles Bukowski
bad shape. sick. can hardly hold my soul together
here in Hollywood
here on DeLongpre Ave. where the nurses live
where the experimental film makers live
where the trees live hot and sad in the sun.
here where the wheelchairs drift past
down from the home for the aged.
how long Chinaski?
how many more loves shot out of the sky?
how many more women?
how many more days and years?
pain walks through the shadows of this room.
I can feel it in my arms,
I can hear it rattling in my cheap air cooler.
I remember things and get up and walk about.
I can’t stop walking
from one edge of the room to the other.
I was once a man content to be alone.
now I have been broken open,
everything has edges.
they have me - crazed and trapped.
they brought me out of myself.
they are working on me.
the onslaught is furious and relentless
and without sound.
the rivers spill over the dikes.
the sun smells like burnt cheese.
ten thousand faces on the boulevards.
I live with creatures whose existence
has nothing to do with mine.
I keep walking about this room.
I can hardly breathe.
I have given my pain a name.
I call it “Assault.”
Assault, I say, will you please go out for a walk
and leave me alone?
will you please go out for a walk and
get run over by a train?
my few friends think I am a very funny fellow.
tell me about Chinaski, they ask my girlfriend.
oh, she says, he just sits in the big chair
I make people laugh.
Assault, I say, do you want something to eat?
were you once a racehorse?
why don’t you
take a rest?
Assault follows me across the room
he leaps on my shoulders and shakes me.
Lorca was shot down in the road but here
in America the poets never anger anybody.
the poets don’t gamble.
their poetry has the smell of clinics.
their poetry has the smell of clinics.
where people die rather then live.
here they don’t assassinate the poets
they don’t even notice the poets.
I walk out on the street to buy a
Assault follows me.
we pass a beautiful young girl on the sidewalk.
I look into her eyes. she stares
you can’t have her, says Assault, you are an old man,
you are a crazy old man.
I’m aware of my age, I say with some dignity.
yes, and aware of death too.
you’re going to die and
you don’t know where you’re going
but I’m coming along with you.
you rotten bastard, I say, why are you
so fond of me?
I get a newspaper and come back.
we read it together.
ah, my companion!
we bathe together, sleep together, eat
open letter together.
we write poems together.
we read poems together.
I don’t know if I am Chinaski or
some say I love my pain.
yes, I love it so much I’d like to give it to you
wrapped in a red ribbon
wrapped in a bloody red ribbon
you can have it
you can have it all.
I’ll never miss it.
I’m working on getting rid of it, believe me.
I might jam it into your mailbox
or throw it into the back seat of your car.
here on DeLongpre Ave.
we have just