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You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense, Page 1

Charles Bukowski




  Charles Bukowski

  You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense

  for Jeff Copland

  Contents

  1813-1883

  red Mercedes

  retired

  working it out

  beasts bounding through time—

  trashcan lives

  the lost generation

  no help for that

  my non-ambitious ambition

  education

  downtown L.A.

  another casualty

  driving test

  that’s why funerals are so sad

  cornered

  bumming with Jane

  darkness

  termites of the page

  a good time

  the still trapeze

  January

  sunny side down

  the man in the brown suit

  a magician, gone…

  well, that’s just the way it is

  the chemistry of things

  rift

  my friend, the parking lot attendant

  miracle

  a non-urgent poem

  my first affair with that older woman

  the freeway life

  the player

  p.o. box 11946, Fresno, Calif. 93776

  poor Al

  for my ivy league friends:

  helping the old

  bad times at the 3rd and Vermont hotel

  the Master Plan

  garbage

  my vanishing act

  let’s make a deal

  16-bit Intel 8088 chip

  zero

  putrefaction

  I’ll take it…

  supposedly famous

  the last shot

  whorehouse

  starting fast:

  the crazy truth

  drive through hell

  for the concerned:

  a funny guy

  shoes

  coffee

  together

  the finest of the breed

  close to greatness

  the stride

  final story

  friends within the darkness

  death sat on my knee and cracked with laughter

  oh yes

  O tempora! O mores!

  the passing of a great one

  the wine of forever

  true

  Glenn Miller

  Emily Bukowski

  some suggestions

  invasion

  hard times

  longshot

  concrete

  Gay Paree?

  I thought the stuff tasted worse than usual

  the blade

  the boil

  not listed

  I’m not a misogynist

  the lady in the castle

  relentless as the tarantula

  their night

  huh?

  it’s funny, isn’t it? #1

  it’s funny, isn’t it? #2

  the beautiful lady editor

  about the PEN conference

  everybody talks too much

  me and my buddy

  song

  practice

  love poem to a stripper

  my buddy

  Jon Edgar Webb

  thank you

  the magic curse

  party’s over

  no nonsense

  escape

  wearing the collar

  a cat is a cat is a cat is a cat

  marching through Georgia

  gone

  I meet the famous poet

  seize the day

  the shrinking island

  magic machine

  those girls we followed home

  fractional note

  a following

  a tragic meeting

  an ordinary poem

  from an old dog in his cups…

  let ’em go

  trying to make it

  the death of a splendid neighborhood

  you get so alone at times that it just makes sense

  a good gang, after all

  this

  hot

  late late late poem

  3 a.m. games:

  someday I’m going to write a primer for crippled saints but meanwhile

  help wanted

  sticks and stones…

  working

  over done

  our laughter is muted by their agony

  murder

  what am I doing?

  nervous people

  working out

  how is your heart?

  forget it

  quiet

  it’s ours

  About the Author

  Other Books by Charles Bukowski

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  1813-1883

  listening to Wagner

  as outside in the dark the wind blows a cold rain the

  trees wave and shake lights go

  off and on the walls creak and the cats run under the

  bed…

  Wagner battles the agonies, he’s emotional but

  solid, he’s the supreme fighter, a giant in a world of

  pygmies, he takes it straight on through, he breaks

  barriers

  an

  astonishing FORCE of sound as

  everything here shakes

  shivers

  bends

  blasts

  in fierce gamble

  yes, Wagner and the storm intermix with the wine as

  nights like this run up my wrists and up into my head and

  back down into the

  gut

  some men never

  die

  and some men never

  live

  but we’re all alive

  tonight.

  red Mercedes

  naturally, we are all caught in

  downmoods, it’s a matter of

  chemical imbalance

  and an existence

  which, at times,

  seems to forbid

  any real chance at

  happiness.

  I was in a downmood

  when this rich pig

  along with his blank

  inamorata

  in this red Mercedes

  cut

  in front of me

  at racetrack parking.

  it clicked inside of me

  in a flash:

  I’m going to pull that fucker

  out of his car and

  kick his

  ass!

  I followed him

  into Valet parking

  parked behind him

  and jumped from my

  car

  ran up to his

  door

  and yanked at

  it.

  it was

  locked.

  the

  windows were

  up.

  I rapped on the window

  on his

  side:

  “open up! I’m gonna

  bust your

  ass!”

  he just sat there

  looking straight

  ahead.

  his woman did

  likewise.

  they wouldn’t look

  at me.

  he was 30 years

  younger

  but I knew I could

  take him

  he was soft and

  pampered.

  I beat on the window

  with my

  fist:

  “come on out, shithead,

  or I’m go
ing to start

  breaking

  glass!”

  he gave a small nod

  to his

  woman.

  I saw her reach

  into the glove

  compartment

  open it

  and slip him the

  .32

  I saw him hold it

  down low

  and snap off the

  safety.

  I walked off

  toward the

  clubhouse, it looked

  like a damned good

  card

  that

  day.

  all I had to do

  was

  be there.

  retired

  pork chops, said my father, I love

  pork chops!

  and I watched him slide the grease

  into his mouth.

  pancakes, he said, pancakes with

  syrup, butter and bacon!

  I watched his lips heavy wetted with

  all that.

  coffee, he said, I like coffee so hot

  it burns my throat!

  sometimes it was too hot and he spit it

  out across the table.

  mashed potatoes and gravy, he said, I

  love mashed potatoes and gravy!

  he jowled that in, his cheeks puffed as

  if he had the mumps.

  chili and beans, he said, I love chili and

  beans!

  and he gulped it down and farted for hours

  loudly, grinning after each fart.

  strawberry shortcake, he said, with vanilla

  ice cream, that’s the way to end a meal!

  he always talked about retirement, about

  what he was going to do when he

  retired.

  when he wasn’t talking about food he talked

  on and on about

  retirement.

  he never made it to retirement, he died one day while

  standing at the sink

  filling a glass of water.

  he straightened like he’d been

  shot.

  the glass fell from his hand

  and he dropped backwards

  landing flat

  his necktie slipping to the

  left.

  afterwards

  people said they couldn’t believe

  it.

  he looked

  great.

  distinguished white

  sideburns, pack of smokes in his

  shirt pocket, always cracking

  jokes, maybe a little

  loud and maybe with a bit of bad

  temper

  but all in all

  a seemingly sound

  individual

  never missing a day

  of work.

  working it out

  in this steamy a.m. Hades claps its Herpes hands and

  a woman sings through my radio, her voice comes clambering

  through the smoke, and the wine fumes…

  it’s a lonely time, she sings, and you’re not

  mine and it makes me feel so bad,

  this thing of being me…

  I can hear cars on the freeway, it’s like a distant sea

  sludged with people

  while over my other shoulder, far over on 7th street

  near Western

  is the hospital, that house of agony—

  sheets and bedpans and arms and heads and

  expirations;

  everything is so sweetly awful, so continuously and

  sweetly awful: the art of consummation: life eating

  life…

  once in a dream I saw a snake swallowing its own

  tail, it swallowed and swallowed until

  it got halfway round, and there it stopped and

  there it stayed, it was stuffed with its own

  self. some fix, that.

  we only have ourselves to go on, and it’s

  enough…

  I go downstairs for another bottle, switch on the

  cable and there’s Greg Peck pretending he’s

  F. Scott and he’s very excited and he’s reading his

  manuscript to his lady.

  I turn the set

  off.

  what kind of writer is that? reading his pages to

  a lady? this is a violation…

  I return upstairs and my two cats follow me, they are

  fine fellows, we have no discontent, we have no

  arguments, we listen to the same music, never vote for a

  president.

  one of my cats, the big one, leaps on the back

  of my chair, rubs against my shoulders and

  neck.

  “no good,” I tell him, “I’m not going

  to read you this

  poem.”

  he leaps to the floor and walks out to the

  balcony and his buddy

  follows.

  they sit and watch the night; we’ve got the

  power of sanity here.

  these early a.m. mornings when almost everybody

  is asleep, small night bugs, winged things

  enter, and circle and whirl.

  the machine hums its electric hum, and having

  opened and tasted the new bottle I type the next

  line. you

  can read it to your lady and she’ll probably tell you

  it’s nonsense. she’ll be

  reading Tender Is the

  Night.

  beasts bounding through time—

  Van Gogh writing his brother for paints

  Hemingway testing his shotgun

  Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine

  the impossibility of being human

  Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief

  Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town

  the impossibility of being human

  Burroughs killing his wife with a gun

  Mailer stabbing his

  the impossibility of being human

  Maupassant going mad in a rowboat

  Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot

  Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller

  the impossibility

  Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato

  Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun

  Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops

  the impossibility

  Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench

  Chatterton drinking rat poison

  Shakespeare a plagiarist

  Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness

  the impossibility the impossibility

  Nietzsche gone totally mad

  the impossibility of being human

  all too human

  this breathing

  in and out

  out and in

  these punks

  these cowards

  these champions

  these mad dogs of glory

  moving this little bit of light toward

  us

  impossibly.

  trashcan lives

  the wind blows hard tonight

  and it’s a cold wind

  and I think about

  the boys on the row.

  I hope some of them have a bottle

  of red.

  it’s when you’re on the row

  that you notice that

  everything

  is owned

  and that there are locks on

  everything.

  this is the way a democracy

  works:

  you get what you can,

  try to keep that

  and add to it

  if possible.

  this is the way a dictatorship

  works too

  only they either enslave or

  destroy their

  derelicts.

  we just fo
rget

  ours.

  in either case

  it’s a hard

  cold

  wind.

  the lost generation

  have been reading a book about a rich literary lady

  of the twenties and her husband who

  drank, ate and partied their way through

  Europe