long ago he edited a little magazine
was up in San Francisco
during the beat era
during the reading-poetry-with-jazz experiments
and I remember him because he never returned my manuscripts
even though I wrote him many letters,
humble letters, sane letters, and, at last, violent letters;
I’m told he jumped off a roof
because a woman wouldn’t love him.
no matter. when I saw him again
he was in a wheelchair and carried a wine bottle to piss in;
he wrote very delicate poetry
that I, naturally, couldn’t understand;
he autographed his book for me
which he said I wouldn’t like)
and once at a party I threatened to punch him and
was drunk and he wept and
took pity and instead hit the next poet who walked by
on the head with his piss bottle; so,
we had an understanding after all.
he had this very thin and intense woman
pushing him about, she was his arms and legs and
maybe for a while
his heart.
was almost commonplace
at poetry readings where he was scheduled to read
to see her swiftly rolling him in,
sometimes stopping by me, saying,
don’t see how we are going to get him up on the stage!”
sometimes she did. often she did.
then she began writing poetry, I didn’t see much of it,
but, somehow, I was glad for her.
then she injured her neck while doing her yoga
and she went on disability, and again I was glad for her,
all the poets wanted to get disability insurance
was better than immortality.
met her in the market one day
in the bread section, and she held my hands and
trembled all over
and I wondered if they ever had sex
those two. well, they had the muse anyhow
and she told me she was writing poetry and articles
but really more poetry, she was really writing a lot,
and that’s the last I saw of her
until one night somebody told me she’d o.d.’d
and I said, no, not her
and they said, yes, her.
was a day or so later
sometime in the afternoon
had to go to the Los Feliz post office
to mail some dirty stories to a sex mag.
coming back
outside a church
saw these smiling creatures
so many of them smiling
the men with beards and long hair and wearing
blue jeans
and most of the women blonde
with sunken cheeks and tiny grins,
and I thought, ah, a wedding,
nice old-fashioned wedding,
and then I saw him on the sidewalk
in his wheelchair
tragic yet somehow calm
looking grayer, a profile like a tamed hawk,
and I knew it was her funeral,
she had really o.d.’d
and he did look tragic out there.
do hav e feelings, you know.
maybe to night I’ll try to read his book.
Other works by Charles Bukowski...