a hell of a duet

there we were, always broke;   getting the Sunday papers out of the
Monday trashcans–along with the refundable soft drink bottles
which were often magic enough to total with our few coins
that next bottle…   which began our new existence in that
apartment… always dramatically behind in the rent… the radio
playing against the torn curtains of sunlight we continued as if
all were very well, and I loved her high-heeled shoes and her few
dresses, and also how she laughed at me
sitting in my torn undershirt decorated with wine-stains and
cigarette holes, we were some team, Jane and I, we sparkled through
the minor tragedy of our poverty as if it were a joke, as if it
didn’t belong–and it didn’t:   we had it by the throat and we were
choking more and more bottles
it was said afterwards
never had been heard such wild singing, such wild and sad singing of
the old songs
such a screaming and cursing
breaking of glass
barricaded against the landlord and the police (old pros, we were) to
awaken in the morning, couch and chairs, dresser pushed against the

I always said, “Lady, you first…”

and Jane would run to the bathroom and vomit for some minutes and then
I’d have my turn

then back on the bed, both of us breathing silently   against the   foreboding
ceiling, feeling that they had us, feeling trapped, dead, stupid, subnormal,
mad, feeling that we had used our last bluff, feeling that we were out of

it can get real deep-rooted sad when your backbone is up against the wall
every morning but we
always worked out of that–

usually about in 15 or 20 minutes Jane would say,
“Shit.”   and I would say,

and then, penniless and without hope we’d figure a way to do it all over
again, and then somehow we would:

love has many strange ways of being

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript