Poetry on Fridays
There are many who will not understand Charles Butowski's poetry. This is what he had to say about it:
"My contribution", he wrote in 1974, "was to loosen and simplify poetry, to make it more human... I taught them that you can write a poem the same way you can write a letter, that a poem can even be entertaining, and that there need not be anything necessarily holy about it."
(for Jane, with love)
we came out of the bar
because we were out of money
but we had a couple of wine bottles
in the room.
it was about 4 in the afternoon
and we passed a fire station
and she started to go
"a FIRE STATION! oh, I just love
FIRE engines, they're so red and
all! let's go in!"
I followed her on
in. "FIRE ENGINES!" she screamed
wobbling her big
she was already trying to climb into
one, pulling her skirt up to her
waist, trying to jacknife up into the
"here, here, lemme help ya!" a fireman ran up.
amother fireman walked up to
me: "our citizens are always welcome,"
he told me.
the other guy was up in the seat with
her. "you got one of those big THINGS?"
she asked him. "oh, hahaha!, I mean one of
those big HELMETS!"
"I've got a big helmet, too" he told
"you play cards?" I asked my
fireman. I had 43 cents and nothing but
"come in back," he
said. "of course, we don't gamble.
it's against the
"I understand," I told
I had run my 43 cents up to a
when I saw her going upstairs with
"he's gonna show me their sleeping
quarters," she told
"I understand," I told
when her fireman slid down the pole
ten minutes later
I nodded him
"that'll be 5
"5 dollars for
"we wouldn't want a scandal, would
we? we both might lose our
jobs. of course, I'm not
he gave me the
"sit down, you might get it
"gambling's against the
"anything interesting is, besides,
you see any money on the
he sat down.
that made 5 of
"how was it Harry?" somebody asked
"not bad, not
the other guy went on
they were bad players really.
they didn't bother to memorize the
deck. they didn't know whether the
high numbers or low numbers were left. and basically they hit too high,
didn't hold low
when the other guy came down
he gave me a
"how was it, Marty?"
"not bad. she's got . . . some fine
"hit me!" I said. "nice clean girl, I
ride it myself."
"any big fires lately?" I
"you guys need
exercise. hit me
a big red-headed kid who had been shining an
threw down his rag and
when he came down he threw me a
when the 4th guy came down I gave him
3 fives for a
I don't know how many firemen
were in the building or where they
were. I figured a few had slipped by me
but I was a good
it was getting dark outside
when the alarm
they started running around.
guys came sliding down the
then she came sliding down the
pole. she was good with the
pole. a real woman. nothing but guts
"let's go," I told
she stood there waving goodbye to the
firemen but they didn't seem
"let's go back to the
bar," I told
"ooh, you got
"I found some I didn't know I
had. . ."
we sat at the end of the bar
with whiskey and beer
"I sure got a good
"sure, baby, you need your
"look at that sailor looking at me!
he must think I'm a ...a ..."
"naw, he don't think that. relax, you've got
class. real class. sometimes you remind me of an
opera singer. you know, one of those prima d's.
your class shows all over
I ordered 2
"you know, daddy, you're the only man I
LOVE! I mean, really...LOVE! ya
"sure I know. sometimes I think I am a king
in spite of myself."
"yeah. yeah. that's what I mean, somethin' like
I had to go to the urinal. when I came back
the sailor was sitting in my
seat. she had her leg up against his and
he was talking.
I walked over and got in a dart game with
Harry the Horse and the corner
Poetry takes many forms to many people. To me it's about putting power in the words. Salute, Charles. Special thanks to my friend Mark who has been showering me with Bukowski poems this past week. Would you like one more? Go on, you know you do. Okay, just a short one.
when you're young
a pair of
in the closet
can fire your
when you're old
a pair of shoes
Oh, yeah. Cats. Say hi, Beau.
Be at peace, dear friends, be at peace.