Monday, August 15, 2016

David Allen writes


Flying over the pacific
is never peaceful –
I return to the problems
I left behind when I fled
to the East.

The woman sitting next to me
strikes up a conversation,
she’s the mother of a Marine
assigned to Okinawa
and is returning after a visit
to her first granddaughter.
“She is healthy,
God bless,” she declares.
And this woman’s husband
has a successful electrical business
in St. Louis -- “God Bless!” -- and life,
“Praise the Lord!”
Is good.

Somewhere in the conversation
I mention I am going to Indiana
for the birth of my second grandchild
and a brief trek to New York
to tout my new book of poetry.

She asks to look at the book
and I find one in my bag,
and, as she reads, I watch
out of the corner of my eye,
pretending to read a magazine
while trying to fathom
her reaction to my poems.
My blood is all over the pages.

I spot her reading
the one about another flight
and the religious Filipina
and scientific Japanese student
sitting next to me, the dirty old man poet
reading Bukowski and dreaming
of smooth, creamy white thighs,
and I wonder what my new seatmate
is thinking.

When she is finished
she mentions the poems are
“interesting,” and handing
the book back asks –
“Have you accepted Jesus
as your personal savior?”

I smile, realizing the conversation is
about to end and answer,
“I tried several times
but he never accepted me.”

And we slept in silence
the rest of the flight. 


Charles Bukowski -- Drew Friedman


  1. In 1986 “Time” called Charles Bukowski the "laureate of American lowlife." A critic in “The Boston Review” described his work as a "detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free." The writer certainly tried to promote that image of himself through riotous public readings and boorish party behavior, as well as in his poems and prose. He wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, six novels, and several screenplays, publishing over 60 books that dealt mainly with the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcoholism, gambling, sex, troubled relationships with women and his father, and the drudgery of work, but he often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject.: "You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with." The 2007 release, “The People Look Like Flowers At Last,” was his final posthumous book, completing the process of collecting all of his work. In the 1980s he collaborated with the underground illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books. His grandfather had immigrated to the US from Germany in the 1880s and met an immigrant from Danzig (modern Gdańsk, Poland). His father was stationed in Germany after World War I , married Bukowski’s mother there, and returned to the US three years later; the poet often claimed to have been born out of wedlock, but in fact his parents married a month before his birth. In the 2003 film, “Bukowski -- Born Into This,” he claimed that his father beat him with a razor strop three times a week from the ages of 6 to 11 and that this helped his writing because he came to understand undeserved pain. He began publishing when he was 23 but soon became fed up with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade; the "ten-year drunk," as he characterized this part of his life, became the basis for the semi-autobiographical chronicles of his highly stylized alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. In 1955, after a near-fatal bleeding ulcer, he began writing poetry and, from 1962, began performing live readings of his works. As a result of his early “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” column in the Los Angeles underground newspaper “Open City,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation kept a file on him. In 1963 he tried to answer the question, “'What do you do? How do you write, create?'… You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it." His fortunes as a writer, however, did not become firmly established until 1969, when he was 49; John Martin agreed to pay him a salary if he quit his job at the post office in order to write for the Black Sparrow Press full time; as he explained his decision, "I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve." He died at 72; his gravestone reads: "Don't Try."

  2. A 340 Dollar Horse And A Hundred Dollar Whore

    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.


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