best bet

he used to sell newspapers at Hollywood and
Normandie
and he didn’t quite look the average
newsvendor
although I rather like the average
newsvendors.
their jobs have very little pressure
and they sit in the sun and sleep,
gently in turmoil.

this newsvendor has a curious
wandering
corkscrewed
intelligence.

I bought the Racing Form from him.

I see him at the racetrack.
he runs in with his shopping bag
which contain his life belongings.

they let them in free for the last race
which is an exacta race.

he always runs up to me
with his shopping bag
and starts talking.

the regulars at the track
know that I am a loner
talk to nobody

they are astonished
that I seem to like
this man in rags.

he says to me:
“hey, let me know!
who is it?”

“god, man, I don’t know.
none of us really knows.
we’re being ground to
death.”

“I hit a thousand dollar exacta
one day,” he says.   “of course,
it took me 3 thousand dollars
to get it.”

“it’s a grind-down,” I say,
but it’s good when you land, though,
it holds magic for fools like
us.”

he runs off with his shopping bag.
I know that he isn’t going to win
that day.
I can tell by the way his body moves
through the crowd.

and I’m not going to win
either….


his shopping bag seemed to have
more meaning than
anything.

but it wasn’t even on the
morning line.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1977
Source
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: