Poem to Yevtushenko

Yevtushenko, listen,
we’ve got Genet trekking all the way over here
to tell the American government and the American intelligentsia
and the American anything
else
that the Black Panthers
just ain’t being
treated right.

that’s news, Yevtushenko,
right from the mouth of a
Frenchman.

hello, we didn’t know all
that.   and he had to sneak across the
Canadian border
too.

Yevtushenko, I’ve worked with black men
in the factories of America
drank with them in my my room
fought them with my fists,
as I have the whites,
and Genet has to sneak over the Canadian border
to tell me
the Black Panthers have been mistreated by the
police, the fbi, the
whatever.

I too have been mistreated by the
whatever
and I too
write poetry
but have been lucky,
have remained unfamous
and, therefore,
real.

It seems that when poets become famous
enough
they tend not only to write poetry but also
polities.   see:
Pound.   for
one.

I get by.

…big black men
6–5 and 280 pounds
sitting in a chair across from me
a few months ago
told me
about the thing:
“you know, Bukowski, we don’t like
it.”

“Genet was a pretty good writer once,”
I said.

“that don’t get him no
let-off.”

we drank 12 or 14 more bottles of beer (each), my dear
Yevtushenko,
and then he left
telling me Roy Jones
had let them down too
by trying to force Jones upon black
instead of letting black be
what it wanted to
be.

I’m what they call “poor white trash”
and there’s something wrong
with my skin
too, but like the black kitty who drove the lift-truck said:
“We give them sand,
we give you
water.”

I’m not even pro-black,
Yevtushenko, but I’ve slept with their women
and drunk with their men,
and it’s nothing all that
much:
“you been sleepin’ with our women for
200 years.”

so far, the white man had made my life
harder than the black.   that may change
overnight, and won’t matter
except for the hardness.

unasked, a publisher sent me 4 or 5
books–
one was by Genet: MAY SAY SPEECH,
and the other, one of the others
was by you:
FLOWERS AND BULLETS

“The stars
in your flag,
America,
are bullet holes.”

that’s a nice line.   you must have really
worked on that one
to figure it
out.

then, you’ve even got to drag in
“Old Abe,”
who meant well
but created more blood than
freedom.

I am the one to tell you, my dear Yevtushenko,
that slavery was never abolished
but merely extended
to include both the black and the
white.

I am here now.
I am quite aware of America
and I am quite aware of
myself.
I know about the assassinations.

I note
your guts are politically torn
by the deaths at Kent State,
especially the one of
Allison Krause.

you sorrow well
from a distance.

I am here
now.

you and Genet
have done the duty of
poetry.

duty is often a dirty word
and a must.

2 weeks after ten people had been bayoneted on campus
by the National Guard

I read poetry at the University of
New Mexico
while drinking a pint of
Cutty Sark scotch.

and mostly I read poems about whorehouses, ladies,
technical madness…
and ended up drinking with half the audience
in a deserted storefront in the chicano
district.

Hardly any political advances made
except I finished up in bed sleeping with a most
beautiful
lady. and, you see, that isn’t any good, is
it?

don’t you think that our people
have eyes and minds and feelings in their
heads?

do you really have to play that grand poet shit
to score in the future textbooks of the
world?

how far does the egotistical diarrhoea of poets
have to spread?

well, when I write my poem about Russia,
Yevgeny,
maybe you can clean that dirt from under your own
fingernails.

look at them now.
from that safe and immortal
political
distance.

clean
them.