Main Love is a dog from hell: poems, 1974-1977

Love is a dog from hell: poems, 1974-1977

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Poems 1974-1977

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to Carl Weissner

table of contents








the 6 foot goddess


I’ve seen too many glazed-eyed bums




sweet music


numb your ass and your brain and your heart—


one of the hottest








another bed






the escape


the drill




the spider


the end of a short affair


moaning and groaning


an almost made up poem


blue cheese and chili peppers


problems about the other woman




Bee’s 5th


103 degrees


pacific telephone


225 pounds




one for old snaggle-tooth




trying to get even:




quiet clean girls in gingham dresses…


we will taste the islands and the sea




this poet




what they want


Iron Mike




the professors


for Al—


how to be a great writer


the price


alone with everybody


the 2nd novel


Chopin Bukowski


gloomy lady




who in the hell is Tom Jones?




traffic signals








one to the breastplate


the worst and the best








trench warfare


the night I fucked my alarm clock


when I think of myself dead


Christmas eve, alone


there once was a woman who put her head into an oven


beds, toilets, you and me—


this then—


imagination and reality




the meek have inherited


the insane always loved me


Big Max




it’s the way you play the game


on the continent


12:18 a.m.


yellow cab


how come you’re not unlisted?


weather report


clean old man; 




a plate glass window




99 to one


the crunch


a horse with greenblue eyes






red up and down


like a flower in the rain


light brown


huge ear rings


she came out of the bathroom


a killer




the promise


waving and waving goodbye




don’t touch the girls


dark shades


prayer in bad weather




a stethoscope case


eat your heart out


the retreat


I made a mistake




girls in pantyhose


up your yellow river




I have shit stains in my underwear too


Hawley’s leaving town


an unkind poem


the bee


the most




the girl on the bus stop bench


I’m getting back to where I was


a lovely couple


the strangest sight you ever did see—


in a neighborhood of murder


private first class


love is a dog from hell


my groupie


now, if you were teaching creative writing


the good life


the Greek


my comrades




a change of habit




sitting in a sandwich joint


doom and siesta time


as crazy as I ever was




dead now




the place didn’t look bad


the little girls


rain or shine


cold plums


girls coming home


some picnic




the good loser


an art


the girls at the green hotel


a good one


shit time




a 56 year old poem


the beautiful young girl walking past the graveyard—






my old man




little tigers everywhere


after the reading:


about cranes


a gold pocket watch


beach trip


one for the shoeshine man


About the Author


Other books by Charles Bukowski






About the Publisher

one more creature
 dizzy with love





is the slim tall


bedroom damsel

dressed in a long



she’s always high

in heels





Sandra leans out of

her chair





I wait for her head

to hit the closet


as she attempts to


a new cigarette on an

almost burnt-out



at 32 she likes

young neat

unscratched boys

with faces like the bottoms

of new saucers


she has proclaimed as much

to me

has brought her prizes

over for me to view:

silent blonde zeros of young



a) sit

b) stand

c) talk

at her command


sometimes she brings one

sometimes two

sometimes three

for me to



Sandra looks very good in

long gowns

Sandra could probably break

a man’s heart


I hope she finds





you’re a beast, she said

your big white belly

and those hairy feet.

you never cut your nails

and you have fat hands

paws like a cat

your bright red nose

and the biggest balls

I’ve ever seen.

you shoot sperm like a

whale shoots water out of the

hole in its back.


beast beast beast,

she kissed me,

what do you want for


the 6 foot goddess



I’m big

I suppose that’s why my women always seem


but this 6 foot goddess

who deals in real estate

and art

and flies from Texas

to see me

and I fly to Texas

to see her—

well, there’s plenty of her to

grab hold of

and I grab hold of it

of her,

I yank her head back by the hair,

I’m real macho,

I suck on her upper lip

her cunt

her soul

I mount her and tell her,

“I’m going to shoot white hot

juice into you. I didn’t fly all the

way to Galveston to play



later we lay locked like human vines

my left arm under her pillow

my right arm over her side

I grip both of her hands,

and my chest




tangle into her

and through us

in the dark

pass rays

back and forth

back and forth

until I fall away

and we sleep.


she’s wild

but kind

my 6 foot goddess

makes me laugh

the laughter of the mutilated

who still need


and her blessed eyes

run deep into her head

like mountain springs

far in


cool and good.


she has saved me

from everything that is

not here.

I’ve seen too many glazed-eyed bums
sitting under a bridge drinking cheap wine



you sit on the couch

with me


new woman.


have you seen the




they show death.


and now I wonder

which animal of

us will eat the

other first

physically and




we consume animals

and then one of us

consumes the other,

my love.



I’d prefer you go

first the first way


since if past performance

charts mean anything

I’ll surely go

first the last





“you know,” she said, “you were at

the bar so you didn’t see

but I danced with this guy.

we danced and we danced


but I didn’t go home with him

because he knew I was with



“thanks a bunch,” I



she was always thinking of sex.

she carried it around with her

like something in a paper


such energy.

she never forgot.

she stared at every man available

in morning cafes

over bacon and eggs

or later

over a noon sandwich or

a steak dinner.


“I’ve modeled myself after

Marilyn Monroe,” she told



“she’s always running off

to some local disco to dance

with a baboon,” a friend once told

me, “I’m amazed that you’ve

stood for it as long as you have.”

she’d vanish at racetracks

then come back and say,

“three men offered to buy me

a drink.”


or I’d lose her in the parking

lot and I’d look up and she’d

be walking along with a strange man.

“well, he came from this direction

and I came from that and we

kind of walked together. I

didn’t want to hurt his



she said that I was a very

jealous man.


one day she just

fell down

inside of her sexual organs

and vanished.


it was like an alarm clock

dropping into the

Grand Canyon.

it banged and rattled and

rang and rang

but I could no longer

see or hear it.


I’m feeling much better


I’ve taken up tap-dancing

and I wear a black felt

hat pulled down low

over my right


sweet music



it beats love because there aren’t any

wounds: in the morning

she turns on the radio, Brahms or Ives

or Stravinsky or Mozart. she boils the

eggs counting the seconds out loud: 56,

57, 58…she peels the eggs, brings

them to me in bed. after breakfast it’s

the same chair and listen to the classical

music. she’s on her first glass of

scotch and her third cigarette. I tell

her I must go to the racetrack. she’s

been here about 2 nights and 2 days. “when

will I see you again?” I ask. she

suggests that might be up to me. I

nod and Mozart plays.

numb your ass and your brain and your heart—



I was coming off an affair that had gone badly.

frankly, I was sliding down into a pit

really feeling shitty and low

when I lucked into this lady with a large bed

covered with a jeweled canopy


wine, champagne, smokes, pills and

color tv.

we stayed in bed and

drank wine, champagne, smoked, popped pills

by the dozens

as I (feeling shitty and low)

tried to get over this affair that had gone


I watched the tv trying to dull my senses,

but the thing that really helped

was this very long

(specially written for tv) drama about


American spies and Russian spies, and

they were all so clever and


even their children didn’t know

their wives didn’t know, and

in a way

they hardly knew—

and I found out about counter-spies, double-spies:

guys who worked both sides, and

then this one who was a double-spy turned

into a triple-spy, it

got nicely confusing—

I don’t even think the guy who wrote the script

knew what was happening—

it went on for hours!

seaplanes rammed into icebergs,

a priest in Madison, Wisc. murdered his brother,

a block of ice was shipped in a casket to Peru

in lieu of the world’s largest diamond, and

blondes walked in and out of rooms eating

creampuffs and walnuts;

the triple-spy turned into a

quadruple-spy and everybody loved


and it went on and on

and the hours passed and

it all finally vanished like a paperclip in a

bag of trash and I

reached over and flicked off the set and

slept well for the first time

in a week and a half.

one of the hottest



she wore a platinum blond wig

and her face was rouged and powdered

and she put the lipstick on

making a huge painted mouth

and her neck was wrinkled

but she still had the ass of a young girl

and the legs were good.

she wore blue panties and I got them off

raised her dress, and with the TV flickering

I took her standing up.

as we struggled around the room

(I’m fucking the grave, I thought, I’m

bringing the dead back to life, marvelous

so marvelous

like eating cold olives at 3 a.m.

with half the town on fire)

I came.


you boys can keep your virgins

give me hot old women in high heels

with asses that forgot to get old.


of course, you leave afterwards

or get very drunk

which is the same



we drank wine for hours and watched tv

and when we went to bed.

to sleep it off.

she left her teeth in all

night long.




I got his ashes, she said, and I took them

out to sea and I scattered his ashes and

they didn’t even look like ashes


the urn was weighted with

green and blue pebbles…


he didn’t leave you any of his



nothing, she said.


after having to eat all those breakfasts

and lunches and dinners with him? after

listening to all his bullshit?


he was a brilliant man.


you know what I mean.


anyhow, I got the ashes. and you fucked

my sisters.


I never fucked your sisters.


yes, you did.


I fucked one of them.


which one?


the lesbian, I said, she bought me dinner and drinks,

I had very little choice.


I’m going, she said.


don’t forget your bottle.


she went in and got it.


there’s so little to you, she said, that when you die and

they burn you they’ll have to add almost all green and

blue pebbles.


all right, I said.


I’ll see you in 6 months! she screamed and slammed the door.


well, I thought, I guess in order to get rid of her I’ll have

to fuck her other sister. I walked into the bedroom and started

looking for phone numbers. all I remembered was that she

lived in San Mateo and had a very good.





she pulled her dress off

over her head

and I saw the panties

indented somewhat into the



it’s only human.

now we’ve got to do it.

I’ve got to do it

after all that bluff.

it’s like a party—

two trapped



under the sheets

after I have snapped

off the light

her panties are still

on. she expects an

opening performance.

I can’t blame her. but

wonder why she’s here with

me? where are the other

guys? how can you be

lucky? having someone the

others have abandoned?


we didn’t have to do it

yet we had to do it.

it was something like

establishing new credibility

with the income tax

man. I get the panties

off. I decide not to

tongue her. even then

I’m thinking about

after it’s over.


we’ll sleep together


trying to fit ourselves

inside the wallpaper.


I try, fail,

notice the hair on her


mostly notice the hair

on her


and a glimpse of




I try it





women don’t know how to love,

she told me.

you know how to love

but women just want to


I know this because I’m a



hahaha, I laughed.


so don’t worry about your breakup

with Susan

because she’ll just leech onto

somebody else.


we talked a while longer

then I said goodbye


went into the crapper and

took a good beershit

mainly thinking, well,

I’m still alive

and have the ability to expell

wastes from my body.

and poems.

and as long as that’s happening

I have the ability to handle





and the economic reports in the

financial section.


with that

I stood up



then thought:

it’s true:

I know how to



I pulled up my pants and walked

into the other room.

another bed



another bed

another woman


more curtains

another bathroom

another kitchen


other eyes

other hair


feet and toes.


everybody’s looking.

the eternal search.


you stay in bed

she gets dressed for work

and you wonder what happened

to the last one

and the one before that…

it’s all so comfortable—

this love-making

this sleeping together

the gentle kindness…


after she leaves you get up and use her


it’s all so intimate and so strange.

you go back to bed and

sleep another hour.


when you leave it’s with sadness

but you’ll see her again

whether it works or not.

you drive down to the shore and sit

in your car. it’s almost noon.


—another bed, other ears, other

ear rings, other mouths, other slippers, other


      colors, doors, phone numbers.


you were once strong enough to live alone.

for a man nearing sixty you should be more



you start the car and shift,

thinking, I’ll phone Jeanie when I get in,

I haven’t seen her since Friday.




don’t undress my love

you might find a mannequin;

don’t undress the mannequin

you might find

my love.


she’s long ago

forgotten me.


she’s trying on a new


and looks more the


than ever.


she is a


and a mannequin




I can’t hate



she didn’t do




I only wanted her





“your poems about the girls will still be around

50 years from now when the girls are gone,”

my editor phones me.


dear editor:

the girls appear to be gone



I know what you mean


but give me one truly alive woman


walking across the floor toward me


and you can have all the poems


the good ones

the bad ones

or any that I might write

after this one.


I know what you mean.


do you know what I mean?

the escape



escape from the black widow spider

is a miracle as great as art.

what a web she can weave

slowly drawing you to her

she’ll embrace you

then when she’s satisfied

she’ll kill you

still in her embrace

and suck the blood from you.


I escaped my black widow

because she had too many males

in her web

and while she was embracing one

and then the other and then


I worked free

got out

to where I was before.


she’ll miss me—

not my love

but the taste of my blood,

but she’s good, she’ll find other


she’s so good that I almost miss my death,

but not quite;

I’ve escaped. I view the other


the drill



our marriage book, it


I look through it.

they lasted ten years.

they were young once.

now I sleep in her bed.

he phones her:

“I want my drill back.

have it ready.

I’ll pick the children up at


when he arrives he waits outside

the door.

his children leave with


she comes back to bed

and I stretch a leg out

place it against hers.

I was young once too.

human relationships simply aren’t


I think back to the women in

my life.

they seem non-existent.


“did he get his drill?” I ask.


“yes, he got his drill.”


I wonder if I’ll ever have to come

back for my bermuda

shorts and my record album

by The Academy of St. Martin in the

Fields? I suppose I





she’s from Texas and weighs

103 pounds

and stands before the

mirror combing oceans

of reddish hair

which falls all the way down

her back to her ass.

the hair is magic and shoots

sparks as I lay on the bed

and watch her combing her

hair. she’s like something

out of the movies but she’s

actually here. we make love

at least once a day and

she can make me laugh

any time she cares

to. Texas women are always

healthy, and besides that she’s

cleaned my refrigerator, my sink,

the bathroom, and she cooks and

feeds me healthy foods

and washes the dishes



“Hank,” she told me,

holding up a can of grapefruit

juice, “this is the best of them


it says: Texas unsweetened

PINK grapefruit juice.


she looks like Katherine Hepburn

looked when she was

in high school, and I watch those

103 pounds

combing a yard and some change

of reddish hair

before the mirror

and I feel her inside of my

wrists and at the backs of my eyes,

and the toes and legs and belly

of me feel her and

the other part too,

and all of Los Angeles falls down

and weeps for joy,

the walls of the love parlors shake—

the ocean rushes in and she turns

to me and says, “damn this hair!”

and I say,


the spider



then there was the time in

New Orleans

I was living with a fat woman,

Marie, in the French Quarter

and I got very sick.

while she was at work

I got down on my knees

in the kitchen

that afternoon and

prayed. I was not a

religious man

but it was a very dark afternoon

and I prayed:

“Dear God: if you will let me live,

I promise You I’ll never take

another drink.”

I kneeled there and it was just like

a movie—

as I finished praying

the clouds parted and the sun came

through the curtains

and fell upon me.

then I got up and took a crap.

there was a big spider in Marie’s bathroom

but I crapped anyhow.

an hour later I began feeling much

better. I took a walk around the Quarter

and smiled at people.

I stopped at the grocery and got a couple of

6 packs for Marie.

I began feeling so good that an hour later

I sat in the kitchen and opened

one of the beers.

I drank that and then another one

and then I went in and

killed the spider.

when Marie got home from work

I gave her a big kiss,

then sat in the kitchen and talked

as she cooked dinner.

she asked me what had happened that day

and I told her I had killed the

spider. she didn’t get

angry. she was a good


the end of a short affair



I tried it standing up

this time.

it doesn’t usually


this time it seemed



she kept saying

“o my God, you’ve got

beautiful legs!”


it was all right

until she took her feet

off the ground

and wrapped her legs

around my middle.


“o my God, you’ve got

beautiful legs!”


she weighed about 138

pounds and hung there as I



it was when I climaxed

that I felt the pain

fly straight up my



I dropped her on the

couch and walked around

the room.

the pain remained.


“look,” I told her,

“you better go. I’ve got

to develop some film

in my dark room.”


she dressed and left

and I walked into the

kitchen for a glass of

water. I got a glass full

in my left hand.

the pain ran up behind my

ears and

I dropped the glass

which broke on the floor.


I got into a tub full of

hot water and epsom salts.

I just got stretched out

when the phone rang.

as I tried to straighten

my back

the pain extended to my

neck and arms.

I flopped about

gripped the sides of the tub

got out

with shots of green and yellow

and red light

flashing in my head.


the phone kept ringing.

I picked it up.



“I LOVE YOU!” she said.


“thanks,” I said.


“is that all you’ve got

to say?”



“eat shit!” she said and

hung up.


love dries up, I thought

as I walked back to the

bathroom, even faster

than sperm.

moaning and groaning



she writes: you’ll

be moaning and groaning

in your poems

about how I fucked

those 2 guys last week.

I know you.

she writes on to

say that my vibe

machine was right—

she had just fucked

a third guy

but she knows I don’t

want to hear who, why

or how. she closes her

letter, “Love.”


rats and roaches

have triumphed again.

here it comes running

with a slug in its

mouth, it’s singing

old love songs.

close the windows


close the doors


an almost made up poem



I see you drinking at a fountain with tiny

blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny

they are small, and the fountain is in France

where you wrote me that last letter and

I answered and never heard from you again.

you used to write insane poems about

ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you

knew famous artists and most of them

were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’s all right,

go ahead, enter their lives, I’m not jealous

because we’ve never met. we got close once in

New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never

touched. so you went with the famous and wrote

about the famous, and, of course, what you found out

is that the famous are worried about

their fame—not the beautiful young girl in bed

with them, who gives them that, and then awakens

in the morning to write upper case poems about

ANGELS AND GOD. we know God is dead, they’ve told

us, but listening to you I wasn’t sure. maybe

it was the upper case. you were one of the

best female poets and I told the publishers,

editors, “print her, print her, she’s mad but she’s

magic. there’s no lie in her fire.” I loved you

like a man loves a woman he never touches, only

writes to, keeps little photographs of. I would have

loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a

cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,

but that didn’t happen. your letters got sadder.

your lovers betrayed you. kid, I wrote back, all

lovers betray. it didn’t help. you said

you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and

the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying

bench every night and wept for the lovers who had

hurt and forgotten you. I wrote back but never

heard again. a friend wrote me of your suicide

3 or 4 months after it happened. if I had met you

I would probably have been unfair to you or you

to me. it was best like this.

blue cheese and chili peppers



these women are supposed to come

and see me

but they never


there’s the one with the long scar along her


there’s the other who writes poems

and phones at 3 a.m., saying,

“I love you.”

there’s the one who dances with a

boa constrictor

and writes every four

weeks, she’ll

come, she says.

and the 4th who claims she sleeps


with my latest book

under her



I whack-off in the heat

and listen to Brahms and eat

blue cheese with chili



these are women of good mind and

body, excellent in or out of bed,

dangerous and deadly, of


but why do they all have to live

up north?


I know that someday they’ll

arrive, but two or three

on the same day, and

we’ll sit around and talk

and then they’ll all leave



somebody else will have them

and I will walk about

in my floppy shorts

smoking too many cigarettes

and trying to make drama

out of

no damned progress

at all.

problems about the other woman



I had worked my charms on her

for a couple of nights in a bar—

not that we were new lovers,

I had loved her for 16 months

but she didn’t want to come to my place

“because that other woman has been there,”

and I said, “all right, all right, what will we do?”


she had come in from the north and was looking for a

place to stay

meanwhile rooming with her girlfriend,

and she went to her rent-a-trailer

and got out some blankets and said,

“let’s go to the park.”

I told her she was crazy

the cops would get us

but she said, “no, it’s nice and foggy,”

so we went to the park

spread out the equipment and began

working and here came headlights—

a squad car—

she said, “hurry, get your pants on! I’ve got mine


I said, “I can’t. they’re all twisted-up.”

and they came with flashlights

and asked what we were doing and she said,

“kissing!” one of the cops looked at me and

said, “I don’t blame you,” and after some small

talk they left us alone.

but she still didn’t want the bed where that woman

had been,

so we ended up in a dark hot motel room

sweating and kissing and working

but we made it all right; but I mean,

after all that suffering…

we were at my place finally

that next afternoon

doing the same thing.


those weren’t bad cops though

that night in the park—

and it’s the first time I ever said that

about cops,


I hope,

the last time I ever have





she lived in Galveston and was into


and I went down to visit her and we made love

continually even though it was very warm


and we took mescalin

and we took the ferry to the island

and drove 200 miles to the nearest


we both won and sat in a redneck bar—

disliked and distrusted by the natives—

and then we went to a redneck motel

and came back a day or two later

and I stayed another week

painted her a couple of good paintings—

one of a man being hanged

and another of a woman being fucked by a wolf.

I awakened one night and she wasn’t in bed

and I got up and walked around saying,

“Gloria, Gloria, where are you?”

it was a large place and I walked around

opening door after door,

and then I opened what looked like a closet door

and there she was on her knees

surrounded by photographs of

7 or 8 men

heads shaved

most of them wearing rimless spectacles.

there was a small candle burning

and I said, “oh, I’m sorry.”

Gloria was dressed in a kimono with flying

eagles on the back of it.

I closed the door and went back to bed.

she came out in 15 minutes.

we began kissing,

her large tongue sliding in and out of my


she was a large healthy Texas girl.

“listen, Gloria,” I finally managed to say,

“I need a night off.”


the next day she drove me to the airport.

I promised to write. she promised to write.

neither of us has written.

Bee’s 5th



I heard it first while screwing a blonde

who had the biggest box in



I listened to it again as I wrote a letter

to my mother

asking for 5,000 dollars

and she mailed back

3 bottletops and

the stems of grandpop’s



The 5th will kill you

in the grass or at the track,

the kitten said,

walking across the popinjay



if the 5th don’t kill you

the tenth will,

said the Caliente hooker.

as they ran up the

beautiful catsup red flag

93 thieves wept in the

purple dust.


the 5th is like an

ant in a breakfastnook full of

swaggersticks and

june bugs


dawn’s orange juice coming.


and I took the 3 bottletops from my

mother and

ate them

wrapped in pages from




but I am tired of the


and I told this to a woman in

Ohio once. I

had just packed coal up 3 flights

of stairs

I was drunk and

dizzy, and she said:


      how can you say you don’t care

      for something greater than you’ll

      ever be?


and I said:


      that’s easy.


and she sat in a green chair and

I sat in a red chair

and after that

we never made love


103 degrees



she cut my toenails the night before,

and in the morning she said, “I think I’ll

just lay here all day.”

which meant she wasn’t going to work.

she was at my apartment—which meant another

day and another night.

she was a good person

but she had just told me that she wanted to

have a child, wanted marriage, and

it was 103 degrees outside.

when I thought of another child and

another marriage

I really began to feel bad.

I had resigned myself to dying alone

in a small room—

now she was trying to reshape my master plan.

besides she always slammed my car door too loud

and ate with her head too close to the table.

this day we had gone to the post office, a department

store and then to a sandwich place for lunch.

I already felt married. driving back in I almost

ran into a Cadillac.

“let’s get drunk,” I said.

“no, no,” she answered, “it’s too early.”

and then she slammed the car door.

it was still 103 degrees.

when I opened my mail I found my auto insurance

company wanted $76 more.

suddenly she ran into the room and screamed, “LOOK, I’M


“take a bath,” I told her.

I dialed the insurance company long distance and

demanded to know why.

she began screaming and moaning from the

bathtub and I couldn’t hear and I said, “just a

moment, please!”

I covered the phone and screamed at her in the bathtub:



the insurance people still maintained that I owed them

$76 and would send me a letter explaining why.

I hung up and stretched out on the bed.

I was already married, I felt married.

she came out of the bathroom and said, “can I stretch out

beside you?”

and I said, “o.k.”

in ten minutes her color was normal.

It was because she had taken a niacin tablet.

she remembered that it happened every time.

we stretched out there sweating:

nerves. nobody has soul enough to overcome nerves.

but I couldn’t tell her that.

she wanted her baby.

what the fuck.

pacific telephone



you go for these wenches, she said,

you go for these whores,

I’ll bore you.


I don’t want to be shit on anymore,

I said,



when I drink, she said, it hurts my

bladder, it burns.


I’ll do the drinking, I said.


you’re waiting for the phone to ring,

she said,

you keep looking at the phone.

if one of those wenches phones you’ll

run right out of here.


I can’t promise you anything, I said.


then—just like that—the phone rang.


this is Madge, said the phone. I’ve

got to see you right away.


oh, I said.


I’m in a jam, she continued, I need ten



I’ll be right over, I said, and

hung up.


she looked at me. it was a wench,

she said, your whole face lit up.

what the hell’s the matter with



listen, I said, I’ve got to leave.

you stay here. I’ll be right back.


I’m going, she said. I love you but you’re

crazy, you’re doomed.


she got her purse and slammed the door.


it’s probably some deeply-rooted childhood fuckup

that makes me vulnerable, I thought.


then I left my place and got into my volks.

I drove north up Western with the radio on.

there were whores walking up and down

both sides of the street and Madge looked

more vicious than any of them.

225 pounds



we were in bed and

she started to fight:

“you son of a bitch! you just wait a minute,

I’ll get you!”


I began laughing:

“what’s the matter? what’s the matter?”


“you son of a bitch!” she screamed.


I held her hands as she squirmed.


she was a couple of decades younger than I

a health food freak.

she was very strong.


“you son of a bitch! I’ll get you!”

she screamed.


I rolled on top of her with my 225 pounds and

just layed it there on her.


“uugg, oooo, my God, that’s not fair, oooo, my



I rolled off and walked into the other room and

sat on the couch.


“I’ll get you, bastard,” she said, “you just



“just don’t bite it off,” I said, “or you’ll make

a half dozen women very unhappy.”


she climbed up on the headboard of my bed

(it did have a flat though narrow surface)

and sat perched there watching the news on


the tv faced the bedroom and it illuminated

her as she sat up there on the



“I thought you were sane,” I said, “but you’re

just as crazy as the rest of them.”


“be quiet,” she said, “I want to watch the



“look,” I said, “I’ll…”


“SHUSH!” she said.


and there she was up on the headboard of my bed

really watching the news. I accepted her that





she drives into the parking lot while

I am leaning up against the fender of my car.

she’s drunk and her eyes are wet with tears:

“you son of a bitch, you fucked me when you

didn’t want to. you told me to keep phoning

you, you told me to move closer into town,

then you told me to leave you alone.”


it’s all quite dramatic and I enjoy it.

“sure, well, what do you want?”


“I want to talk to you, I want to go to your

place and talk to you…”


“I’m with somebody now. she’s in getting a



“I want to talk to you…it takes a while

to get over things. I need more time.”


“sure. wait until she comes out. we’re not

inhuman. we’ll all have a drink together.”


“shit,” she says, “oh shit!”


she jumps into her car and drives off.


the other one comes out: “who was that?”


“an ex-friend.”


now she’s gone and I’m sitting here drunk

and my eyes seem wet with tears.

it’s very quiet and I feel like I have a spear

rammed into the center of my gut.


I walk to the bathroom and puke.


mercy, I think, doesn’t the human race know anything

about mercy?

one for old snaggle-tooth



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

and believes


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 considered 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

and beautiful

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.


Frances, this poem is for





horses running

with her miles away

laughing with a



Bach and the hydrogen bomb

and her miles away

laughing with a



the banking system

bumper jacks

gondolas in Venice

and her miles away

laughing with a


you’ve never quite

seen a stairway before

(each step looking at you


and outside

the newsboy looking


as the cars go by

under a sun

like an enemy

and you wonder

why it’s so hard

to go crazy—

if you’re not already



until now

you’ve never seen a

stairway that looked like

a stairway

a doorknob that looked like

a doorknob

and sounds like these sounds


and when the spider comes out

and looks at you


you don’t hate it


with her miles away

laughing with a


trying to get even:



we’d had any number of joints and some

beer and I was on the bed stretched out

and she said, “look, I’ve had 3 abortions

in a row, real fast, and I’m sick of

abortions, I don’t want you to stick that

thing in me!”


it was sticking up there and we were both

looking at it.

“ah, come on,” I said, “my girlfriend fucked

2 different guys this week and I’m trying to

get even.”


“don’t get me involved in your domestic

horseshit! now what I want you to do is

to BEAT that thing OFF while I WATCH!

I want to WATCH while you beat that thing

OFF! I want to see it shoot JUICE!”


“o.k. get your face closer.”


she got it closer and I spit on my palm

and began working.


it got bigger. just before I was ready I

stopped, I held it at the bottom

stretching it,

the head throbbed

purple and shiny.


“oooh,” she said.

she ducked her mouth over it, sucked at

it and

pulled away.


“finish it off,” I said.



I whacked away and then stopped again

at the last moment and held it at the

bottom and waved it all around the



she eyed it

fell upon it again


and pulled away.


we alternated the process

back and forth


again and again.


finally I just pulled her off

the chair

onto the bed

rolled on top of her

stuck it in

worked it

worked it

and came.


when she walked back out of

the bathroom she said,

“you son of a bitch, I love you,

I’ve loved you for a long time.

when I get back to Santa Barbara

I’m going to write you. I’m

living with this guy but I hate

him, I don’t even know what I’m

doing with him.”


“o.k.,” I said, “but you’re up

now. can you get me a glass of

water? I’m dry.”

she walked into the kitchen and

I heard her remark that

all my drinking glasses were



I told her to use a

coffee cup. I

heard the water running and I

thought, one more fuck

I’ll be even

and I can be in love with my girlfriend again—

that is

if she hasn’t slipped in an


and she probably





“I’ve made it,” she said, “I’ve come

through.” she had on new boots, pants

and a white sweater. “I know what I

want now.” she was from Chicago and

had settled in L.A.’s Fairfax district.


“you promised me champagne,”

she said.

“I was drunk when I phoned. how about

a beer?”

“no, pass me your joint.”

she inhaled, let it out:

“this isn’t very good stuff.”

she handed it back.


“there’s a difference,” I said, “between

making it and simply becoming hard.”


“you like my boots?”

“yes, very nice.”

“listen, I’ve got to go. can I use

your bathroom?”



when she came out she had on a

large lipstick mouth. I hadn’t seen

one of those since I was a boy.

I kissed her in the doorway

feeling the lipstick rub off on my



“goodbye,” she said.

“goodbye,” I said.


she went up the walk toward her car.

I closed the door.

she knew what she wanted and it wasn’t


I know more women like that than any

other kind.

quiet clean girls in gingham dresses…



all I’ve ever known are whores, ex-prostitutes,

madwomen. I see men with quiet,

gentle women—I see them in the supermarkets,

I see them walking down the streets together,

I see them in their apartments: people at

peace, living together. I know that their

peace is only partial, but there is

peace, often hours and days of peace.


all I’ve ever known are pill freaks, alcoholics,

whores, ex—prostitutes, madwomen.


when one leaves

another arrives

worse than her predecessor.


I see so many men with quiet clean girls in

gingham dresses

girls with faces that are not wolverine or



“don’t ever bring a whore around,” I tell my

few friends, “I’ll fall in love with her.”


“you couldn’t stand a good woman, Bukowski.”


I need a good woman. I need a good woman

more than I need this typewriter, more than

I need my automobile, more than I need

Mozart; I need a good woman so badly that I

can taste her in the air, I can feel her

at my fingertips, I can see sidewalks built

for her feet to walk upon,

I can see pillows for her head,

I can feel my waiting laughter,

I can see her petting a cat,

I can see her sleeping,

I can see her slippers on the floor.


I know that she exists

but where is she upon this earth

as the whores keep finding me?

we will taste the islands and the sea



I know that some night

in some bedroom


my fingers will



soft clean



songs such as no radio



all sadness, grinning

into flow.

me, and
 that old woman:





this poet he’d been drinking 2 or 3 days and he walked out on the stage and looked at that audience and he just knew he was going to do it. there was a grand piano on stage and he walked over and lifted the lid and vomited inside the piano. then he closed the lid and gave his reading.


they had to remove the strings from the piano and wash out the insides and restring it.


I can understand why they never invited him back. but to pass the word on to other universities that he was a poet who liked to vomit into grand pianos was unfair.


they never considered the quality of his reading. I know this poet: he’s just like the rest of us: he’ll vomit anywhere for money.




big sloppy wounded dog

hit by a car and walking

toward the curbing

making enormous


your body curled

red blowing out of

ass and mouth.


I stare at him and

drive on

for how would it look

for me to be holding

a dying dog on a

curbing in Arcadia,

blood seeping into my

shirt and pants and

shorts and socks and

shoes? it would just

look dumb.

besides, I figure the 2

horse in the first race

and I wanted to hook

him with the 9

in the second. I

figured the daily to

pay around $140

so I had to let that

dog die alone there

just across from the

shopping center

with the ladies looking

for bargains

as the first bit of

snow fell upon the

Sierra Madre.

what they want



Vallejo writing about

loneliness while starving to


Van Gogh’s ear rejected by a


Rimbaud running off to Africa

to look for gold and finding

an incurable case of syphilis;

Beethoven gone deaf;

Pound dragged through the streets

in a cage;

Chatterton taking rat poison;

Hemingway’s brains dropping into

the orange juice;

Pascal cutting his wrists

in the bathtub;

Artaud locked up with the mad;

Dostoevsky stood up against a wall;

Crane jumping into a boat propeller;

Lorca shot in the road by Spanish


Berryman jumping off a bridge;

Burroughs shooting his wife;

Mailer knifing his.

—that’s what they want:

a God damned show

a lit billboard

in the middle of hell.

that’s what they want,

that bunch of





admirers of


Iron Mike



we talk about this film:

Cagney fed this broad


faster than she could

eat it and

then she

loved him.


“that won’t always

work,” I told Iron



he grinned and said,



then he reached down

and touched his belt.

32 female scalps

dangled there.


“me and my big Jewish

cock,” he said.


then he raised his hands

to indicate the



“o, yeh, well,”

I said.


“they come around,” he

said, “I fuck ’em, they

hang around, I tell ’em,

‘it’s time to leave.’”

“you’ve got guts,



“this one wouldn’t leave

so I just got up and

slapped her…she



“I don’t have your nerve,

Mike. they hang around

washing dishes, rubbing

the shit-stains out of the

crapper, throwing out the

old Racing Forms…”


“they’ll never get me,”

he said,

“I’m invincible.”


look, Mike, no man is


some day

you’ll be sent mad by

eyes like a child’s crayon

drawing. you won’t be

able to drink a glass of

water or walk across a

room. there will be the

walls and the sound of

the streets outside, and

you’ll hear machineguns

and mortar shells. that’ll

be when you want it and

can’t have it.


the teeth

are never finally the

teeth of love.




big black beard

tells me

that I don’t feel



I look at him

my gut rattles



I see his eyes

look upward


he’s strong


has dirty fingernails


and upon the walls:



he knows things:



the odds

the best road



I like him

but I think he



(I’m not sure

he lies)


his wife sits

in a dark



when I first met

her she was the

most beautiful


I had ever



now she has


his twin


perhaps not his



perhaps the thing

does us all

like that


yet after I leave

their house

I feel terror


the moon looks



my hands slip

on the

steering wheel


I get my car


and down the



almost crash it

into a


parked car

clod me forever,



wavering poet, ha



dinky dog of


the professors



sitting with the professors

we talk about Allen Tate

and John Crow Ransom

the rugs are clean and

the coffeetables shine

and there is talk of

budgets and works in


and there is a


the kitchen floor is


and I have just eaten


after drinking until

3 a.m.

after reading

the night before


now I’m to read again

at a nearby college.

I’m in Arkansas in


somebody even mentions


I go to the bathroom

and vomit up the


when I come out

they are all in their

coats and overcoats

waiting in the


I ’m to read in

15 minutes.

there’ll be a

good crowd

they tell me.

for Al—



don’t worry about rejections, pard,

I’ve been rejected



sometimes you make a mistake, taking

the wrong poem

more often I make the mistake, writing



but I like a mount in every race

even though the man

who puts up the morning line


tabs it 30 to one.


I get to thinking about death more and









writing purple poetry with a

dripping pen


when the young girls with mouths

like barracudas

bodies like lemon trees

bodies like clouds

bodies like flashes of lightning

stop knocking on my door.


don’t worry about rejections, pard.

I have smoked 25 cigarettes tonight

and you know about the beer.


the phone has only rung once:

wrong number.

how to be a great writer



you’ve got to fuck a great many women

beautiful women

and write a few decent love poems.


and don’t worry about age

and/or freshly-arrived talents.


just drink more beer

more and more beer


and attend the racetrack at least once a



and win

if possible.


learning to win is hard—

any slob can be a good loser.


and don’t forget your Brahms

and your Bach and your



don’t overexercise.


sleep until noon.


avoid credit cards

or paying for anything on



remember that there isn’t a piece of ass

in this world worth over $50

(in 1977).

and if you have the ability to love

love yourself first

but always be aware of the possibility of

total defeat

whether the reason for that defeat

seems right or wrong—


an early taste of death is not necessarily

a bad thing.


stay out of churches and bars and museums,

and like the spider be


time is everybody’s cross,






all that dross.


stay with the beer.


beer is continous blood.


a continuous lover.


get a large typewriter

and as the footsteps go up and down

outside your window


hit that thing

hit it hard


make it a heavyweight fight


make it the bull when he first charges in


and remember the old dogs

who fought so well:

Hemingway, Celine, Dostoevsky, Hamsun.

if you think they didn’t go crazy

in tiny rooms

just like you’re doing now


without women

without food

without hope


then you’re not ready.


drink more beer.

there’s time.

and if there’s not

that’s all right


the price



drinking 15 dollar champagne—

Cordon Rouge—with the hookers.


one is named Georgia and she

doesn’t like pantyhose:

I keep helping her pull up

her long dark stockings.


the other is Pam-prettier

but not much soul, and

we smoke and talk and I

play with their legs and

stick my bare foot into

Georgia’s open purse.

it’s filled with

bottles of pills. I

take some of the pills.


“listen,” I say, “one of

you has soul, the other

looks. Can’t I combine

the 2 of you? take the soul

and stick it into the looks?”


“you want me,” says Pam, “it

will cost you a hundred.”


we drink some more and Georgia

falls to the floor and can’t

get up.


I tell Pam that I like her

earrings very much. Her

hair is long and a natural


“I was only kidding about the

hundred,” she says.


“oh,” I say, “what will it cost



she lights her cigarette with

my lighter and looks at me

through the flame:


her eyes tell me.


“look,” I say, “I don’t think I

can ever pay that price again.”


she crosses her legs

inhales on her cigarette


as she exhales she smiles

and says, “sure you can.”

alone with everybody



the flesh covers the bone

and they put a mind

in there and

sometimes a soul,

and the women break

vases against the walls

and the men drink too


and nobody finds the


but they keep


crawling in and out

of beds.

flesh covers

the bone and the

flesh searches

for more than



there’s no chance

at all:

we are all trapped

by a singular



nobody ever finds

the one.


the city dumps fill

the junkyards fill

the madhouses fill

the hospitals fill

the graveyards fill

nothing else


the 2nd novel



they’d come around and

they’d ask

“you finished your

2nd novel yet?”




“whatsamatta? whatsamatta

that you can’t

finish it?”


“hemorrhoids and



“maybe you’ve lost



“lost what?”


“you know.”


now when they come

around I tell them,

“yeh. I finished

it. be out in Sept.”


“you finished it?”




“well, listen, I gotta


even the cat

here in the courtyard

won’t come to my door



it’s nice.

Chopin Bukowski



this is my piano.


the phone rings and people ask,

what are you doing? how about

getting drunk with us?


and I say,

I’m at my piano.




I’m at my piano.


I hang up.


people need me. I fill

them. if they can’t see me

for a while they get desperate, they get



but if I see them too often

I get sick. it’s hard to feed

without getting fed.


my piano says things back to



sometimes the things are

scrambled and not very good.

other times

I get as good and lucky as



sometimes I get out of practice

out of tune. that’s

all right.

I can sit down and vomit on the


but it’s my



it’s better than sitting in a room

with 3 or 4 people and

their pianos.


this is my piano

and it is better than theirs.


and they like it and they do not

like it.

gloomy lady



she sits up there

drinking wine

while her husband

is at work.

she puts quite

some importance

upon getting her

poems published

in the little


she’s had two or

three of her slim

volumes of poems

done in mimeo.

she has two or

three children

between the ages

of 6 and 15.

she is no longer

the beautiful woman

she was. she sends

photos of herself

sitting upon a rock

by the ocean

alone and damned.

I could have had

her once. I wonder

if she thinks I

could have

saved her?


in all her poems

her husband is

never mentioned.

but she does

talk about her


so we know that’s

there, anyhow,

and maybe she

fucks the rosebuds

and finches

before she writes

her poems




the cockroach crouched

against the tile

while I was pissing and as

I turned my head

he hauled his butt

into a crack.

I got the can and sprayed

and sprayed and sprayed

and finally the roach came out

and gave me a very dirty look.

then he fell down into

the bathtub and I watched

him dying

with a subtle pleasure

because I paid the rent

and he didn’t.

I picked him up with

some greenblue toilet

paper and flushed him

away. that’s all there

was to that, except

around Hollywood and

Western we have to

keep doing it.

they say some day that

tribe is going to

inherit the earth

but we’re going to

make them wait a

few months.

who in the hell is Tom Jones?



I was shacked with a

24 year old girl from

New York City for

two weeks—about

the time of the garbage

strike out there, and

one night my 34 year

old woman arrived and

she said, “I want to see

my rival.” she did

and then she said, “o,

you’re a cute little thing!”

next I knew there was a

screech of wildcats—

such screaming and scratching,

wounded animal moans,

blood and piss…


I was drunk and in my

shorts. I tried to

separate them and fell,

wrenched my knee. then

they were through the screen

door and down the walk

and out in the street.


squadcars full of cops

arrived. a police helicopter

circled overhead.


I stood in the bathroom

and grinned in the mirror.

it’s not often at the age

of 55 that such splendid

things occur.

better than the Watts



the 34 year old

came back in. she had

pissed all over herself

and her clothing

was torn and she was

followed by 2 cops who

wanted to know why.


pulling up my shorts

I tried to explain.




listening to Bruckner on the radio

wondering why I’m not half mad

over the latest breakup with my

latest girlfriend


wondering why I’m not driving the streets


wondering why I’m not in the bedroom

in the dark

in the grievous dark


ripped by half-thoughts.


I suppose

that at last

like the average man:

I’ve known too many women

and instead of thinking,

I wonder who’s fucking her now?

I think

she’s giving some other poor son of a bitch

much trouble right now.


listening to Bruckner on the radio

seems so peaceful.


too many women have gone through.

I am at last alone

without being alone.


I pick up a Grumbacher paint brush

and clean my fingernails with the hard sharp end.


I notice a wall socket.


look, I’ve won.

traffic signals



the old folks play a game

in the park overlooking the sea

shoving markers across cement

with wooden sticks.

four play, two on each side

and 18 or 20 others sit in

the sun and watch

I notice this as I move

toward the public facility

as my car is being repaired.


an old cannon sits in the park

rusted and useless.

six or seven sailboats ride

the sea below.


I finish my duty

come out

and they are still playing.


one of the women is heavily rouged

wearing false eyelashes and smoking

a cigarette.

the men are very thin

very pale

wear wristwatches that hurt

their wrists.


the other woman is very fat

and giggles

each time a score is made


some of them are my age.


they disgust me

the way they wait for death

with as much passion

as a traffic signal.


these are the people who believe advertisements

these are the people who buy dentures on credit

these are the people who celebrate holidays

these are the people who have grandchildren

these are the people who vote

these are the people who have funerals


these are the dead

the smog

the stink in the air

the lepers.


these are almost everybody



seagulls are better

seaweed is better

dirty sand is better


if I could turn that old cannon

on them

and make it work

I would.


they disgust me.




I get many phonecalls now.

They are all alike.

“are you Charles Bukowski,

the writer?”

“yes,” I tell them.

and they tell me

that they understand my


and some of them are writers

or want to be writers

and they have dull and

horrible jobs

and they can’t face the room

the apartment

the walls

that night—

they want somebody to talk


and they can’t believe

that I can’t help them

that I don’t know the words.

they can’t believe

that often now

I double up in my room

grab my gut

and say

“Jesus Jesus Jesus, not


they can’t believe

that the loveless people

the streets

the loneliness

the walls

are mine too.

and when I hang up the phone

they think I have held back my



I don’t write out of


when the phone rings

I too would like to hear words

that might ease

some of this.


that’s why my number’s





they photograph you on your porch

and on your couch

and standing in the courtyard

or leaning against your car


these photographers

women with big asses

which look better to you

than do their eyes or their souls


—this playing at author

it’s real Hemingway

James Joyce



but look—

there are the books

you’ve written them

you haven’t been to Paris

but you’ve written all those books

there behind you

(and others not there,

lost or stolen)


all you’ve got to do

is look like Bukowski

for the cameras



you keep watching


astonishingly big asses

and thinking—

somebody else is getting


“look into my eyes,”

they say and click their cameras

and flash their cameras


and fondle their cameras

Hemingway used to box or go

fishing or to the bullfights

but after they leave

you jerk-off into the sheets

and take a hot bath


they never send the photos

like they promise to send the photos

and the astonishingly big asses are

gone forever

and you’ve been a fine literary fellow—

now alive

dead soon enough

looking into and at their eyes and souls

and more.




the blue pencil of the wave

shots of yellow road


a steering wheel

an insane woman sitting

next to you


complaining as the ocean



and people in yellow and



block your way

a frantic


as you listen

guilty of this and

guilty of that


you admit

this and that

but it’s not



she wants splendid


and you’re weary of




getting there

she climbs out

walks toward the


you piss across the

fender of your car

drunk on beer


little spots of you

dripping down into

the dust

the dry



zipping up you

march in to

meet her


one to the breastplate



I have a saying, “the tough ones always come



but Vera was kinder than most,

and so I was surprised when

she arrived that night

and said, “let me in.”


“no, no, I’m working on a sonnet.”


“I’ll just stay a minute, then I’ll



“Vera, if I let you in you’ll be here

for 3 or 4 days.”


it was night and I hadn’t turned the

porch light on so I couldn’t see it



she threw a right that

exploded in the center of my



“baby, that was a beautiful punch.

now move off.”


then I closed the door.


she was back again in 5 minutes:

“Hank, I can’t find my car, I

swear I can’t find my car. help

me find my car!”


I saw my friend Bobby-the-Riff

walking by. “hey, Bobby, help

this one find her car. we’ll

even it up later.”


they went off together.

later Bobby said they found her

car parked on somebody’s front

lawn, lights on and motor



I haven’t heard from Vera


unless she’s the one

who keeps phoning at

2 and 3 and 4 a.m. in the


and doesn’t answer when I

say “hello.”


but Bobby says he

can handle her

so I’ve decided to turn her over

to Bobby.


she lives on a side street somewhere

in Glendale

and I help him unfold the

roadmap as we sip our

diet Schlitz.

the worst and the best



in the hospitals and jails

it’s the worst

in madhouses

it’s the worst

in penthouses

it’s the worst

in skid row flophouses

it’s the worst

at poetry readings

at rock concerts

at benefits for the disabled

it’s the worst

at funerals

at weddings

it’s the worst

at parades

at skating rinks

at sexual orgies

it’s the worst

at midnight

at 3 a.m.

at 5:45 p.m.

it’s the worst


falling through the sky

firing squads

that’s the best


thinking of India

looking at popcorn stands

watching the bull get the matador

that’s the best


boxed lightbulbs

an old dog scratching

peanuts in a celluloid bag

that’s the best


spraying roaches

a clean pair of stockings

natural guts defeating natural talent

that’s the best


in front of firing squads

throwing crusts to seagulls

slicing tomatoes

that’s the best


rugs with cigarette burns

cracks in sidewalks

waitresses still sane

that’s the best


my hands dead

my heart dead


adagio of rocks

the world ablaze

that’s the best

for me.




cigarettes wetted with beer from

the night before

you light one


open the door for air

and on your doorstep

is a dead sparrow

his head and breast

chewed away.


hanging from the doorknob

is an ad from the All American


consisting of several coupons



that with the purchase

of a burger

from Feb. 12 thru Feb. 15

you can get a free

regular size bag of french

fries and one

10 oz. cup of coca cola.


I take the ad

wrap the sparrow

carry him to the trash bin

and dump him




forsaking fries and coke

to help keep

my city





what’s bad about all


is watching people

drinking coffee and

waiting. I would

douse them all

with luck. they need

it. they need it

worse than I do.


I sit in cafes

and watch them

waiting. I suppose

there’s not much

else to do. the

flies walk up and

down the windows

and we drink our

coffee and pretend

not to look at

each other. I

wait with them.

between the movement

of the flies

people walk by.




a single dog

walking alone on a hot sidewalk of


appears to have the power

of ten thousand gods.


why is this?

trench warfare



sick with the flu

drinking beer

my radio on loud

enough to overcome

the sounds of the

stereo people who

have just moved

into the court

across the way.

asleep or awake

they play their

set at top volume

leaving their

doors and windows



they are each

18, married, wear

red shoes,

are blonde,


they play

everything: jazz,

classical, rock,

country, modern

as long as it is



this is the problem

of being poor:

we must share each

other’s sounds.

last week it was

my turn:

there were two women

in here

fighting each other

and then they

ran up the walk


the police came.


now it’s their


now I am walking

up and down in

my dirty shorts,

two rubber earplugs

stuck deep into

my ears.


I even consider


such rude little


walking little pieces

of snot!


but in our land

and in our way

there has never

been a chance;

it’s only when

things are not

going too badly

for a while

that we forget.


someday they’ll

each be dead

someday they’ll

each have a

separate coffin

and it will be


but right now

it’s Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Bob

Dylan all the


the night I fucked my alarm clock




starving in Philadelphia

I had a small room

it was evening going into night

and I stood at my window on the 3rd floor

in the dark and looked down into a

kitchen across the way on the 2nd floor

and I saw a beautiful blonde girl

embrace a young man there and kiss him

with what seemed hunger

and I stood and watched until they broke


then I turned and switched on the room light.

I saw my dresser and my dresser drawers

and my alarm clock on the dresser.

I took my alarm clock

to bed with me and

fucked it until the hands dropped off.

then I went out and walked the streets

until my feet blistered.

when I got back I walked to the window

and looked down and across the way

and the light in their kitchen was


when I think of myself dead



I think of automobiles parked in a

parking lot


when I think of myself dead

I think of frying pans


when I think of myself dead

I think of somebody making love to you

when I’m not around


when I think of myself dead

I have trouble breathing


when I think of myself dead

I think of all the people waiting to die


when I think of myself dead

I think I won’t be able to drink water anymore


when I think of myself dead

the air goes all white


the roaches in my kitchen



and somebody will have to throw

my clean and dirty underwear


Christmas eve, alone



Christmas eve, alone,

in a motel room

down the coast

near the Pacific—

hear it?


they’ve tried to do this place up

Spanish, there’s

tapestry and lamps, and

the toilet’s clean, there are

tiny bars of pink



they won’t find us


the barracudas or the ladies or

the idol



back in town

they’re drunk and panicked

running red lights

breaking their heads open

in honor of Christ’s

birthday. that’s nice.


soon I’ll finish this 5th of

Puerto Rican rum.

in the morning I’ll vomit and

shower, drive back

in, have a sandwich by 1 p.m.,

be back in my room by


stretched on the bed,

waiting for the phone to ring,

not answering,

my holiday is an

evasion, my reasoning

is not.

there once was a woman who put her head into an oven



terror finally becomes almost


but never quite


terror creeps like a cat

crawls like a cat

across my mind


I can hear the laughter of the masses


they are strong

they will survive


like the roach


never take your eyes off the roach


you’ll never see it again.


the masses are everywhere

they know how to do things:

they have sane and deadly angers

for sane and deadly



I wish I were driving a blue 1952 Buick

or a dark blue 1942 Buick

or a blue 1932 Buick

over a cliff of hell and into the


beds, toilets, you and me—



think of the beds

used again and again

to fuck in

to die in.


in this land

some of us fuck more than

we die

but most of us die

better than we


and we die

piece by piece too—

in parks

eating ice cream, or

in igloos

of dementia,

or on straw mats

or upon disembarked





:beds beds beds

:toilets toilets toilets


the human sewage system

is the world’s greatest



and you invented me

and I invented you

and that’s why we don’t

get along

on this bed

any longer.

you were the world’s

greatest invention

until you

flushed me



now it’s your turn

to wait for the touch

of the handle.

somebody will do it

to you,


and if they don’t

you will—

mixed with your own

green or yellow or white

or blue

or lavender


this then—



it’s the same as before

or the other time

or the time before that.

here’s a cock

and here’s a cunt

and here’s trouble.


only each time

you think

well now I’ve learned:

I’ll let her do that

and I’ll do this,

I no longer want it all,

just some comfort

and some sex

and only a minor



now I’m waiting again

and the years run thin.

I have my radio

and the kitchen walls

are yellow.

I keep dumping bottles

and listening

for footsteps.


I hope that death contains

less than this.

imagination and reality



there are many single women in the world

with one or two or three children

and one wonders where the husbands

have gone or where the lovers have


leaving behind

all those hands and eyes and feet

and voices.

as I pass through their homes

I like opening cupboards and

looking in

or under the sink

or in a closet—

I expect to find the husband

or lover and he’ll tell me:

“hey, buddy, didn’t you notice her

stretch-marks, she’s got stretch-marks

and floppy tits and she eats

onions all the time and farts…but

I’m a handy man. I can fix things,

I know how to use a turret-lathe and

I make my own oil changes. I can shoot

pool, bowl, and I can finish 5th or

6th in any cross-country marathon

anywhere. I’ve got a set of golf

clubs, can shoot in the 80’s. I know

where the clit is and what to do about

it. I’ve got a cowboy hat with the brim

turned straight up at the sides.

I’m good with the lasso and the dukes

and I know all the latest dance steps.”


and I’ll say, “look, I was just leaving.”

and I will leave before he can challenge me

to arm-wrestling

or tell a dirty joke

or show me the dancing tattoo on his

right bicep.


but really

all I find in the cupboards are

coffee cups and large cracked brown plates

and under the sink a stack of hardened

rags, and in the closet—more coathangers

than clothes, and it’s not until she shows

me the photo album and the photos of him—

nice enough like a shoehorn, or a cart in

the supermarket whose wheels aren’t stuck—

that the self-doubt leaves, and the

pages turn and there’s one child on a

swing wearing a red outfit and there’s

the other one

chasing a seagull in Santa Monica.

and life becomes sad and not dangerous

and therefore good enough:

to have her bring you a cup of coffee in

one of those coffee cups without him

jumping out.




I keep thinking it will be outside


waiting for me


front bumper twisted

Maltese cross hanging

from the mirror.

rubber floormat

twisted under the pedals.

20 m.p.g.

good old TRV 491

the faithful love of a man,

the way I put her into second

while taking a corner

the way she could dig from a signal

with any other around.

the way we conquered large and

small spaces





the crush of things.


I came out of last Thursday night’s

fights at the Olympic

and my 1967 Volks was gone

with another lover

to another place.


the fights had been good.

I called a cab at a Standard station

and sat eating a jelly doughnut

with coffee in a cafe and


and I knew that if I found

the man who stole her

I would kill him.


the cab came. I waved to the

driver, paid for the coffee and

doughnut, got out into the night,

got in, and told him, “Hollywood

and Western,” and that particular

night was just about over.

the meek have inherited



if I suffer at this


think how I’d feel

among the lettuce-pickers

of Salinas?


I think of the men

I’ve known in


with no way to

get out—

choking while living

choking while laughing

at Bob Hope or Lucille

Ball while

2 or 3 children beat

tennis balls against

the walls.


some suicides are never


the insane always loved me



and the subnormal.

all through grammar school

junior high

high school

junior college

the unwanted would attach

themselves to


guys with one arm

guys with twitches

guys with speech defects

guys with white film

over one eye,





and thieves.

and all through the

factories and on the


I always drew the

unwanted. they found me

right off and attached

themselves. they

still do.

in this neighborhood now

there’s one who’s

found me.

he pushes around a

shopping cart

filled with trash:

broken canes, shoelaces,

empty potato chip bags,

milk cartons, newspapers, penholders…

“hey, buddy, how ya doin’?”

I stop and we talk a


then I say goodbye

but he still follows


past the beer

parlours and the

love parlours…

“keep me informed,

buddy, keep me informed,

I want to know what’s

going on.”

he’s my new one.

I’ve never seen him

talk to anybody


the cart rattles

along a little bit

behind me

then something

falls out.

he stops to pick

it up.

as he does I

walk through the

front door of the

green hotel on the


pass down through

the hall

come out the back

door and

there’s a cat

shitting there in

absolute delight,

he grins at


Big Max



in junior high school

Big Max was a problem.

we’d be sitting during lunch hour

eating our peanut butter sandwiches

and potato chips.

he was hairy of nostril

and of eyebrow, his lips

glistened with spittle.

he already wore size ten and a half

shoes. his shirts stretched across a

massive chest. his wrists looked like

two by fours. and he walked up

through the shadows behind the gym

where we sat, my friend Eli and I.

“you guys,” he stood there, “you guys

sit with your shoulders slumped!

you walk around with your shoulders

slumped! how are you ever going to

make it?”


we didn’t answer.


then Max would look at me.

“stand up!”


I’d stand up and he’d walk around

behind me and say, “square your

shoulders like this!”


and he’d snap my shoulders back.

“there! doesn’t that feel better?”


“yeah, Max.”


then he’d walk off and I’d resume a

normal posture.

Big Max was ready for the

world. it made us sick

to look at him.




in the winter walking on my

ceiling my eyes the size of streetlamps.

I have 4 feet like a mouse but

wash my own underwear—bearded and

hungover and a hard-on and no lawyer. I

have a face like a washrag. I sing

love songs and carry steel.


I would rather die than cry. I can’t

stand hounds can’t live without them.

I hang my head against the white

refrigerator and want to scream like

the last weeping of life forever but

I am bigger than the mountains.

it’s the way you play the game



call it love

stand it up in the failing


put it in a dress

pray sing beg cry laugh

turn off the lights

turn on the radio

add trimmings:

butter, raw eggs, yesterday’s


one new shoelace, then add

paprika, sugar, salt, pepper,

phone your drunken aunt in


call it love, you

skewer it good, add

cabbage and applesauce,

then heat it from the

left side,

then heat it from the right


put it in a box

give it away

leave it on a doorstep

vomiting as you go

into the


on the continent



I’m soft. I

dream too.

I let myself dream. I dream of

being famous. I dream of

walking the streets of London and

Paris. I dream of

sitting in cafes

drinking fine wines and

taking a taxi back to a good


I dream of

meeting beautiful ladies in the hall


turning them away because

I have a sonnet in mind that

I want to write

before sunrise. at sunrise

I will be asleep and there will be a

strange cat curled up on the



I think we all feel like this

now and then.

I’d even like to visit

Andernach, Germany, the place where

I began. then I’d like to

fly on to Moscow to check out

their mass transit system so

I’d have something faintly lewd to

whisper into the ear of the mayor of

Los Angeles upon my return to this

fucking place.


it could happen.

I’m ready.

I’ve watched snails climb over

ten foot walls and



you mustn’t confuse this with


I would be able to laugh at my

good turn of the cards—


and I won’t forget you.

I’ll send postcards and

snapshots, and the

finished sonnet.

12:18 a.m.



beheaded in the middle of the


scratching my sides

I am covered with bites

kick my white legs out of the sheets

as the sirens scream

there is a gun blast.


I go to the kitchen

for a glass of water

destroy the reverie of a roach

destroy the roach.

a gale comes from the North

as the man in the apartment across

from me

inserts his penis into the rump of his

4 year old



I hear the screams

light a cigar

stick it into the lips of my

beheaded head.

it is half a cigar


a Medalist Naturáles, No. 7.


I walk back to the bedroom

with a spray can.

I press the button.

it hisses. I


think of ancient wars

loves dead.

so much happens in the dark

yet tomorrow

the sun will move up and on,

you’ll get a ticket if you park on the

south side of the street on


or the north side on



the efficiency of the sun and the


bulwarks sanity.


something bites me.

I madden

spray half my



I turn

see the dark mirror—

the cigar

the loose belly




I laugh.


it’s good they don’t



I take my head


put it back on my



get between the sheets and


can’t sleep.

yellow cab



the Mexican dancer shook her fans at

me and her ass at me, I

didn’t ask her to and

my woman got mad and ran out of the cafe and

it began raining and you could hear it on the

roof and I didn’t have a job and I had 13 days left

on the rent.

sometimes when a woman runs out on you like

that you wonder if it’s not

economics, you can’t blame them—

if I had to get fucked I’d rather get fucked

by somebody with money.

we’re all scared but when you’re ugly and you

don’t have much left you get

strong, and I called the waiter over and I said,

I think I am going to turn this table over, I’m

bored, I’m insane, I need

action, call in your goon, I’ll piss on his



I got

thrown out swiftly. it was

raining. I picked myself up in the rain and

walked down the empty street

cotton candy sweet

dumb shit for sale, all the little stores locked

with 67¢ Woolworth locks.


I reached the end of the street in time

to see her get into the yellow cab with

another guy.


I fell down by a garbage can, stood up

and pissed against it, feeling sad and not

sad, knowing there was only so much they could do to

you, piss sliding down the corrugated

tin, the philosophers must have had something to

say about this. women. their luck against your

destiny. winner take Barcelona. next


how come you’re not unlisted?



the men phone and ask me that.


are you really Charles Bukowski

the writer? they ask.


I’m a sometimes writer, I say,

most often I don’t do anything.


listen, they ask, I like your

stuff—do you mind if I come

over and bring a couple of 6



you can bring them, I say

if you don’t come in…


when the women phone, I say,

o yes, I write, I’m a writer

only I’m not writing right now.


I feel foolish phoning you,

they say, and I was surprised

to find you listed in the phone book.


I have reasons, I say,

by the way why don’t you come over

for a beer?


you wouldn’t mind?


and they arrive

handsome women

good of mind and body and eye.

often there isn’t sex

but I’m used to that

yet it’s good

very good just to look at them—

and some rare times

I have unexpected good luck



for a man of 55 who didn’t get laid

until he was 23

and not very often until he was 50

I think that I should stay listed

via Pacific Telephone

until I get as much as

the average man has had.


of course, I’ll have to keep

writing immortal poems

but the inspiration is there.

weather report



I suppose it’s raining in some Spanish town


while I’m feeling bad

like this;

I’d like to think so


let’s go to a Mexican hamlet—

that sounds nice:

a Mexican hamlet

while I’m feeling bad

like this

the walls yellow with age—

that rain

out there,

a pig moving in his pen at night

disturbed by the rain,

little eyes like cigarette-ends,

and his damned tail:

see it?

I can’t imagine the people.

it’s hard for me to imagine the people.

maybe they are feeling bad like this,

almost as bad as this.

I wonder what they do when they feel


they probably don’t mention it.

they say,

“look, it’s raining.”

that’s the best way.

clean old man



here I’ll be

55 in a



what will I

write about

when it no

longer stands

up in the morning?


my critics

will love it

when my playground

narrows down to


and shellstars.


they might even


nice things about



as if I had


come to my





I’m out of matches.

the springs in my couch

are broken.

they stole my footlocker.

they stole my oil painting of

two pink eyes.

my car broke down.

eels climb my bathroom walls.

my love is broken.

but the stockmarket went up


a plate glass window



dogs and angels are not

very different.

I often go to this place

to eat

about 2:30 in the afternoon

because all the people who eat

there are particularly addled

simply glad to be alive and

eating baked beans

near a plate glass window

which holds the heat

and doesn’t let the cars and

sidewalks inside.


we are allowed as much free

coffee as we can drink

and we sit and quietly drink

the black strong coffee.


it is good to be sitting someplace

in a world at 2:30 in the afternoon

without having the flesh ripped from

your bones. even

being addled, we know this.


nobody bothers us

we bother nobody.


angels and dogs are not

very different

at 2:30 in the afternoon.


I have my favorite table

and after I have finished

I stack the plates, saucers,

the cup, the silverware


my offering to the luck—

and that sun

working good

all up and


inside the






“she shoots up in the neck,” she told

me. I told her to stick it into my

ass and she tried and said, “oh oh,”

and I said, “what the hell’s the matter?”

she said, “nothing, this is New York

style,” and she jammed it in again and said,

“oh shit.” I took it and put it into

my arm, I got part of it.

“I don’t know why people

fuck with the stuff, there’s not that

much to it. I think they’re all losers

and they want to lose real bad. there’s

no other way, it’s like they can’t

get where they’re going or want to go

and there’s no other way.

this has got to be it.

she shoots up in the neck.”


“I know,” I said. “I phoned her, she

could hardly talk, said it was

laryngitis. have some of this wine.”


it was white wine and 4:30 a.m. and her

daughter was sleeping in the bedroom. she

had cable tv with no sound and

a large screen young John Wayne watched

us, and we neither kissed nor made

love and I left at 6:15 a.m.

after the beer and wine were gone

so her daughter wouldn’t awaken for

school and find me sitting in

bed with her mother

with John Wayne and the night gone

and not much chance for anybody—

99 to one



the blazing shark

wants my balls

as I walk through the meat section

looking for salami and cheese


purple housewives

fingering 75 cent avocados

know my shopping cart is an

oversized cock


I am a man with a switchball watch

standing in a honky-tonk phonebooth

sucking strawberry red titty

upsidedown in a Philadelphia crowd.


suddenly all about me are screams of


and I am stiffing it to something beneath me

dyed red hair, bad breath, blue teeth


I used to like Monet

I used to like Monet very much

it was funny, I thought, the way he did it

with colors


women are so expensive

dog leashes are expensive

I am going to start selling air in dark orange bags

marked: moon-blooms


I used to like bottles full of blood

young girls in camel-hair coats

Prince Valiant

Popeye’s magic touch

the struggle is in the struggle

like a corkscrew

a good man doesn’t get cork in the wine


the thought has occurred to millions of men

while shaving

the removal of life might be preferred to

the removal of hair


spit out cotton and clean your rearview

mirror, run like you mean it, drunk jock,

the whores will win, the fools will win,

but break like a horse out of the gate.

the crunch



too much

too little


too fat

too thin

or nobody.


laughter or






strangers with faces like

the backs of

thumb tacks

armies running through

streets of blood

waving winebottles

bayoneting and fucking



or an old guy in a cheap room

with a photograph of M. Monroe.


there is a loneliness in this world so great

that you can see it in the slow movement of

the hands of a clock.


people so tired


either by love or no love.


people just are not good to each other

one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich

the poor are not good to the poor.


we are afraid.


our educational system tells us

that we can all be

big-ass winners.


it hasn’t told us

about the gutters

or the suicides.


or the terror of one person

aching in one place




unspoken to


watering a plant.


people are not good to each other.

people are not good to each other.

people are not good to each other.


I suppose they never will be.

I don’t ask them to be.


but sometimes I think about



the beads will swing

the clouds will cloud

and the killer will behead the child

like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.


too much

too little

too fat

too thin

or nobody


more haters than lovers.


people are not good to each other.

perhaps if they were

our deaths would not be so sad.


meanwhile I look at young girls


flowers of chance.


there must be a way.


surely there must be a way we have not yet

thought of.


who put this brain inside of me?


it cries

it demands

it says that there is a chance.


it will not say


a horse with greenblue eyes



what you see is what you see:

madhouses are rarely

on display.


that we still walk about and

scratch ourselves and light



is more the miracle

than bathing beauties


than roses and the moth.

to sit in a small room

and drink a can of beer

and roll a cigarette

while listening to Brahms

on a small red radio


is to have come back

from a dozen wars



listening to the sound

of the refrigerator


as bathing beauties rot


and the oranges and apples

roll away.






I’m glad when they arrive

and I’m glad when they leave


I’m glad when I hear their heels

approaching my door

and I’m glad when those heels

walk away


I’m glad to fuck

I’m glad to care

and I’m glad when it’s over



since it’s always either

starting or finishing

I’m glad

most of the time


and the cats walk up and down

and the earth spins around the sun

and the phone rings:


“this is Scarlet.”






“o.k., get it on over.”


and I hang up thinking

maybe this is it


go in

take a quick shit






dump the sacks

and cartons of empty



sit down to the sound of

heels approaching

more an army approaching than



it’s Scarlet

and in my kitchen the faucet

keeps dripping

needs a washer.


I’ll take care of it


red up and down



red hair


she whirled it

and she asked

“is my ass still on?”


such comedy.


there is always one woman

to save you from another


and as that woman saves you

she makes ready to



“sometimes I hate you,”

she said.


she walked out and sat on

my porch and read my copy

of Catullus, she stayed out

there for an hour.


people walked up and down

past my place

wondering where such an ugly

old man could get

such beauty.


I didn’t know either.


when she walked in I grabbed

her and pulled her to my lap.

I lifted my glass and told

her, “drink this.”

“oh,” she said, “you’ve mixed

wine with Jim Beam, you’re gonna

get nasty.”


“you henna your hair, don’t



“you don’t look,” she said and

stood up and pulled down her

slacks and panties and

the hair down there was the

same as the hair

up there.


Catullus himself couldn’t have wished

for more historic or

wondrous grace;

then he went



for tender boys

not mad enough

to become


like a flower in the rain



I cut the middle fingernail of the middle


right hand

real short

and I began rubbing along her cunt

as she sat upright in bed

spreading lotion over her arms


and breasts

after bathing.

then she lit a cigarette:

“don’t let this put you off,”

and smoked and continued to rub the

lotion on.

I continued to rub the cunt.

“you want an apple?” I asked.

“sure,” she said, “you got one?”

but I got to her—

she began to twist

then she rolled on her side,

she was getting wet and open

like a flower in the rain.

then she rolled on her stomach

and her most beautiful ass

looked up at me

and I reached under and got the

cunt again.

she reached around and got my

cock, she rolled and twisted,

I mounted

my face falling into the mass

of red hair that overflowed

from her head

and my fattened cock entered

into the miracle.

later we joked about the lotion

and the cigarette and the apple.

then I went out and got some chicken

and shrimp and french fries and buns

and mashed potatoes and gravy and

cole slaw, and we ate. she told me

how good she felt and I told her

how good I felt and we ate

the chicken and the shrimp and the

french fries and the buns and the

mashed potatoes and the gravy and

the cole slaw too.

light brown



light brown stare


that dumb blank marvelous

light brown stare


I’ll take care of



you needn’t carry me


with your Cleopatra

movie star



do you realize

that if I were an adding machine

I might break down


how many times you’ve used

that light brown stare?


not that you’re not the best

with your light brown stare.


someday some crazy son of a bitch

is going to murder you


and you’ll cry out my name

you’ll finally know

what you should have known


so very long


huge ear rings



I go to pick her up.

she’s on some errand.

she always has errands

many things to do.

I have nothing to do.


she comes out of her apartment

I see her move toward my car


she is barefooted

dressed casually

except for huge ear rings.


I light a cigarette

and when I look up

she is stretched out on the street


a quite busy street


all 112 pounds of her

as beautiful as anything you might



I switch on the radio

and wait for her to get up.


she does.


I flip the car door open.

she gets in. I drive away from the

curb. she likes the song on the radio

she turns the radio up.


she seems to like all the songs

she seems to know all the songs

each time I see her she looks better

and better


200 years ago they would have burned her

at the stake


now she puts on her

mascara as we

drive along.

she came out of the bathroom
with her flaming red hair and said—



the cops want me to come down and identify

some guy who tried to rape me.

I’ve lost the key to my car again; I’ve got

the key to open the door but not the one

to start it.

those people are trying to take my child

away from me but I won’t let them.

Rochelle almost o.d.’d, then she went at

Harry with something, and he punched her.

she’s had those cracked ribs, you know,

and one of them punctured her lung. she’s

down at the county under a machine.


where’s my comb?

your comb has all that guck in it.


I told her,

I haven’t seen your


a killer



consistency is terrific:


grubby interior with an

almost perfect body,

long blazing hair—

it confuses me

and others


she runs from man to man

offering endearments


she speaks of love


then breaks each man

to her will



grubby interior


we see it too late:

after the cock gets swallowed

the heart follows


her long blazing hair,

her almost perfect body

walks down the street

as the same sun

falls upon flowers.




she’s not for you, man,

she’s not your type,

she’s erased

she’s been used

she’s got all the wrong


he told me

in between races.


I’m going to bet the 4

horse, I told him.

well, it’s only that I’d

like to turn her around

in mid-stream,

save her, you might say.


you can’t save her, he said,

you’re 55, you need kindness.

I’m going to bet the 6 horse.

you’re not the one to save



who can save her? I asked.

I don’t think the 6 has a

chance, I like the 4.


she needs somebody to beat her

from wall to wall, he said,

kick her ass, she’d love

it. She’d stay home and

wash the dishes.

the 6 horse will be in

the running.


I’m no good at beating women,

I said.

forget her then, he said.


it’s hard to, I said.


he got up and bet the 6

and I got up and bet the 4.

the 5 horse won

by 3 lengths

at 15 to one.


she’s got red hair

like lightning from heaven,

I said.


forget her, he said.


we tore up our tickets

and stared at the lake

in the center of the track.


it was going to be

a long afternoon

for both of us.

the promise



she bent over the side of the bed

and opened the portfolio

along the side of the wall.

we were drinking.

she said, “you promised me these

paintings once, don’t you


“what? no, no, I don’t remember.”

“well, you did,” she said, “and you

ought to keep your promises.”

“leave those fucking paintings alone,”

I said.

then I walked into the kitchen for

a beer. I paused to vomit

and when I came out

I saw her through my window

going down the court walk

toward her place in back.

she was trying to hurry

and balanced on top of her head

were 40 paintings:


black and whites


water colors.

she stumbled once and almost

fell on her ass.

then she ran up her steps

and was gone through her door

to her place upstairs

running with all those paintings

on top of her head.

it was one of the funniest damned

things I ever did see.

well, I guess I’ll just have to

paint 40 more.

waving and waving goodbye



I paid this one’s fare all the way from Houston

to San Francisco

then flew up to meet her at her brother’s house

and I got drunk

and talked all night about a redhead, and

she finally said, “you sleep up there,”

and I climbed the ladder

up into a bunk and she slept

down there.


the next day they drove me to the airport

and I flew back, thinking, well,

there’s still the redhead and when I got back in

I phoned the redhead and said, “I’m back, baby,

I flew up to see this woman and I talked about

you all night, so here I am…”


“well, why don’t you fly back up and finish

the job?” she said and hung up.


then I got drunk and the phone rang

and they said they were

two ladies from Germany and they’d like

to see me.


so they came over and one was 20 and the

other was 22. I told them that my heart

had been smashed for the last time and

that I was giving up women. they laughed

at me and we drank and smoked and went to

bed together.


I got this thing in front of me and

first I grabbed one and then I grabbed the


I finally settled on the 22 year old and

ate her up.


they stayed 2 days and 2 nights

but I never got to the 20 year old,

she was on tampax.

I finally drove them to Sherman Oaks

and they stood at the foot of a long


waving and waving goodbye as I backed

my Volks out.


when I got back there was a letter from a

lady in Eureka. she said that she wanted me

to fuck her until she couldn’t

walk anymore.


I stretched out and whacked-off

thinking about a little girl I had seen

on a red bicycle about a week ago.


then I took a bath and put on my green

terrycloth robe just in time to get the fights

on tv from the Olympic.


there was a black and a Chicano in there.

that always made a good fight.


and it was a good idea too:

put them in there and let them kill each



I watched the whole fight

thinking about the redhead all the time.


I think the Chicano won

but I’m not sure.




she was sitting in the window

of room 1010 at the Chelsea

in New York,

Janis Joplin’s old room.

it was 104 degrees

and she was on speed

and had one leg over

the sill,

and she leaned out and said,

“God, this is great!”

and then she slipped

and almost went out,

just catching herself.

it was very close.

she pulled herself in

walked over and stretched

on the bed.


I’ve lost a lot of women

in a lot of different ways

but that would have been

the first time

that way.


then she rolled off the bed

landed on her back

and when I walked over

she was asleep.


all day she had been wanting

to see the Statue of Liberty.

now she wouldn’t worry me about that

for a while.

don’t touch the girls



she’s up seeing my doctor

trying to get some diet pills;

she’s not fat, she needs the speed.

I go down to the nearest bar and wait.

at 3:30 in the afternoon of a tuesday.

they have a dancer.


there’s only one other man in the bar.


she works out

looking at herself in the mirror.

she’s like a monkey




she’s not very good,

skinny and obvious

and she sticks her tongue out at me

then at the other man.


times must be truly hard, I think.


I have a few more beers then get up to leave.

she waves me over.

“you go?” she asks.

“yes,” I say, “my wife has cancer.”


I shake her hand.


she points to a sign behind her:



she points to the sign and says,

“the sign says, ‘DON’T TOUCH THE GIRLS’.”

I go back to the parking lot and wait.

she comes out.

“did you get the pills?” I ask.

“yes,” she says.

“then it’s been a successful day.”


I think of the dancer walking across my

kitchen. I can’t visualize it. I am going

to die alone

just the way I live.


“take me to my place,” she says,

“I’ve got to get ready for night school.”


“sure,” I say and drive her on in.

dark shades



I never wear dark shades

but this red head went to get

a prescription filled on Hollywood Blvd.

and she kept haggling and working at

me, snapping and snarling.

I left her at the prescription counter

and walked around and got a large tube of

Crest and a giant bottle of Joy.

then I walked up to

the dark shade display rack and bought

the most vicious pair of shades

I could find.

we paid for our things

walked down to a Mexican place

and she ordered a taco she couldn’t eat

and sat there

haggling and snapping and snarling at me

and after eating I ordered 3 beers

drank them down

then put on my shades.

“o my God,” she said, “o my God shit!”

and I ripped her up both sides

most excellent riposte

snarling stinking marmalade shots

shit blows

farts from hell,

then I got up


she following me out

both of us in shades

and the sidewalks split.

we found her car

got in and drove off

me sitting there

pushing the shades back against my nose

ripping out her backbone

and waving it out the window

like a broken Confederate flagpole…

dark and vicious shades help.

“o my God shit!” she said,

and the sun was up


and I didn’t know it.

they were a bargain for $4.25

even though I had left the Crest

and the Joy behind

at the taco place.

prayer in bad weather



by God, I don’t know what to