a Saturday afternoon

we must have been 12 or 13
and we sat in this movie
and here came this blonde on
with these pale empty blue eyes
and he elbowed me and said,
“Jesus, look at her lips!
look how wet those lips are!
I want to kiss those lips!”

“Jesus, man” I said, “shut

all the guys around could here

“I’m in love!” he said.

“God damn you,” I said, “shut up
or I’ll punch you out!”

I didn’t like blondes;  there skin
was always like ivory and they
looked like they were going to

“it’s her lips,” he said, “oh,
shit, it’s those lips!   look at
those lips!   just to kiss those

this blonde was falling into
men’s arms like some swooning
butterfly and there was Gable,
my man Gable going for it,
it wasn’t a good afternoon.

“I’d cut off one of my ears
just to kiss her!” my friend said.

“shit,” I said and got up and
walked out.
I didn’t want to be near an
asshole like that.

I walked down to Frenchy’s Cafe
for a coke.
I got the coke and sat there
and lit a cigarette.

“you can’t smoke in here,”
said Frenchy, “you’re just a

I kept on smoking–I knew I
could handle French:   he’d
been eating his own food, mostly
hot dogs, for years and he
weighed about one hundred and
eleven pounds.

“so, you think you’re a man,
huh?” he asked.

I nodded in the

“o.k., how’d you like to try

I shrugged.
Stella was Frenchy’s waitress.
she walked out with her great
hips and her enormous yellow
buck teeth.

“Stella, the kid says he can
sink it into your doughnut!”

“oh yeah?” she smiled at me.

she scribbled something down
on a pad, ripped off the page
and handed it to me.

“that’s where I live.   come by
after seven…”

then she walked back
into the kitchen where she
washed dishes during the slow

Frenchy leaned across the
counter and smiled at me,
“you gonna handle her,

I drained the coke,
gave him his money,
said, “better than your
thin ass could, Frog…”

then I walked back down
the hill and into the house
and my mother asked,
“back from the movie already,

“yeah,” I said and I walked
into the bedroom
closed the door and stretched
out on the bed
knowing that I was afraid of
Stella and that I was afraid of
the blonde in the movie too,
but I really didn’t like
either one of them.

then the door opened and
my mother stood there
and she said, “Henry,
what are you doing in bed
at three thirty on a Saturday
it’s not good for young boys
to be laying around like this
and not doing anything!
young boys should be doing

I got up and walked out of
the bedroom and out of the
house and I began walking
down the street and I
turned the corner at twenty
first street and I walked
down twenty first street
and I kept walking past
hedges and driveways and
house numbers, and there
were men mowing and watering
their lawns, and there were
dogs barking, and there was
nothing to do, there was
absolutely nothing to

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: