American Literature II

personal is best.    I knew this professor,
we were drinking beer together and he
said, “I don’t see how you can do it.”

he’s wrong, it’s all personal.
history is personal.   pulling a shade up
in the morning is.   drinking beer is.   the
abstract is.   the objective is.   the waterbug
is, and the sinapism.

nothing is more personal than walking down
a stairway alone
thinking about nothing.   I often like to
think about nothing for hours.

this professor, he’d taught too long
while I’d been a night watchman and a
circus hand.   there was nothing I could
tell him but I did:   “drink your beer,”
I told him, “and tell me about your

he could only drink his beer so
I told him about my wife.

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