Carlton Way Off of Western

while the rents go up
this is where the poor people live
the people on ATD and relief
the large families with poor jobs
and the strange lonely men
on old age pensions
waiting to die.

here among the massage parlors
within the smog and the tiredness
even the dogs look
kindly inept
don’t bark
chase cats,
and the cats walk up and down the
passages
and never catch a bird
but the birds are here with us–
it’s only that you can’t see them
you only hear them
somewhere
at 3:30 a.m. in the morning
after the last streetwalker has made her last
score.

the rents go up here too
but compared to the others
we are living for free
because nobody wants to live with the
likes of us.
none of us has new cars
most of us walk
and don’t care who wins the
presidency.

but we have wife-beaters
just like the others
and child-beaters
just like the others
and sex freaks
and tv sets
just like the others

and we’ll die
just like the others
only a little earlier and we’ll drink
just like the others
only a little cheaper stuff
and lie
just like the others
only with a little less
imagination.

and even though our streetwalkers don’t look
as good as their wives
I think our cats and our birds and dogs are better
and don’t forget the
rent.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1976