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He asked, “What makes a man a writer?”
“Well,” I said,”It’s simple. You either get it down
on paper or jump off a bridge.”
Like many of us,
Buk wrote thousands of poems.
Some of them were excellent,
and some of them made poor ass-wipe;
still, he wrote them,
and we need to read them,
all of them, because each one,
each roughshod line of them
drags you into the outrageous world view
of the wrecked alcoholic hulk sexist
barfighter nihilist poet that Buk was.
Oddly, reading him does help me to have more faith
in my own scribbling, my poetic drooling, my true
voice--even though I have barely published jack-
shit, so what--I am heard, I am read, and goddamn
it I see myself clearly, an old actor with good hair
and a well-trained elocution (Buk sucked at those
events where he read his own work). I mean that’s
me out there at Poetry Slams and open mic events,
all me raging against ignorance and malaise, finding
an audience at festivals, on street corners, in men’s
rooms while holding towels for jack-off artists and
fags, on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia, in that
little park adjacent and down the street from the
Pantages in Tacoma, now a homeless camp rife
with poetry lovers, during Sumner Pioneer Days
on the back of a wagon wearing the black cowboy
hat I wore in 1977 while making a Western with
Kurt Russell, at Pow Wows, at picnics, during
break-ins, after muggings, at the stage door of
theaters while plays are being performed, in
women’s restrooms to the beat of tinkling behind
closed stall doors, in restaurant kitchens while
sweaty cooks in hair nets are bustling over greasy
smoky fryers, in the back seat of police cars while
sitting next to drug dealers and whores, adjacent
to the hipsters leaning against brick walls who are
chewing gum and playing pocket pool, in coffee
houses in the corner over by the Asian imported
CD’s, in public libraries speaking Shakespearian
sonnets sotto voce, in hardware stores next to the
nuts and bolts, at fish canneries, when I can find
them, like the one on the Quinault Indian
Reservation in the shithole of Taholah, with the
busy buskers in that tiny park north of the Public
Market in Seattle, and while reciting Bukowski in a
raspy voice to match his own, salivating as I work
my tongue over his rough words.
Talking about Charles Bukowski, whom I doubt I
would have liked, even though I respect his poetry.
I probably would have gotten into a fist fight with him
in an alley behind some bar. We shared strong arms,
a bad temper and a poor complexion. I do actually
appreciate the audacious raunchy riffs he spewed.
Digesting his rancor, reading him is part of our
poetic rite of passage. You know, when he was
sober, and not too fixated on pussy, the ponies,
wine, beer, or his cock, he did write some about
the injustices he witnessed. Of course, that was
between bar bitches, when he could hold his food
down, when he felt good enough to bathe or shave.
For me, his words get under my skin, and rattle
around in the empty rooms within, only to rise up
unannounced, rude and brazen, like indigestion
or a fart.
Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub
don’t ever get the idea I am a poet; you can see me
at the racetrack any day half drunk
betting quarters, sidewheelers and straight thoroughs,
but let me tell you, there are some women there
who go where the money goes, and sometimes when you
look at these whores these onehundreddollar whores
you wonder sometimes if nature isn’t playing a joke
dealing out so much breast and ass and the way
it’s all hung together, you look and you look and
you look and you can’t believe it; there are ordinary women
and then there is something else that wants to make you
tear up paintings and break albums of Beethoven
across the back of the john; anyhow, the season
was dragging and the big boys were getting busted,
all the non-pros, the producers, the cameraman,
the pushers of Mary, the fur salesman, the owners
themselves, and Saint Louie was running this day:
a sidewheeler that broke when he got in close;
he ran with his head down and was mean and ugly
and 35 to 1, and I put a ten down on him.
the driver broke him wide
took him out by the fence where he’d be alone
even if he had to travel four times as far,
and that’s the way he went it
all the way by the outer fence
traveling two miles in one
and he won like he was mad as hell
and he wasn’t even tired,
and the biggest blonde of all
all ass and breast, hardly anything else
went to the payoff window with me.
that night I couldn’t destroy her
although the springs shot sparks
and they pounded on the walls.
later she sat there in her slip
drinking Old Grandad
and she said
what’s a guy like you doing
living in a dump like this?
and I said
I’m a poet
and she threw back her beautiful head and laughed.
you? you . . . a poet?
I guess you’re right, I said, I guess you’re right.
but still she looked good to me, she still looked good,
and all thanks to an ugly horse
who wrote this poem.