Poem for an Errand Boy in the Year 1941

beaten up I was
one hundred times
as bar errand boy,
I was always drunk, and
those slobs–
rolling up their sleeves
and leaving me in my own
blood and vomit.

one day I got some slices of
bologna and a loaf of bread on
credit   (my first food in weeks),
and I drank a bottle of port
and strolled into the bar
and the same guy who had been beating on me
for 6 months–nothing against the Irish but
he was an Irishman and he had been doing it–
and the city was Philly
and that night in the alley the bricks were red
with his blood and mine–
the blood being mine when I missed his face
and hit the wall where I had him backed,
but I only missed half,
and that night in Philadelphia
I taught them that bums did come back,
could be immortal
could be great,
but I was barred, 86’d because I’d won
for a change
because I’d jammed caterpillars up the Buddha’s butt
and with all the power of brooding
had set fire to angels’ wings,
I was 86’d because I’d left my clown’s role
in The City of Brotherly Love.

I can’t tell you
how good it felt
to finally beat the shit out of a guy
who really
needed
it.

now, McGilligan,
you tell your
side.

                   –Charles Bukowski