change over

Xmas season
here I was a boy and here was my mother and here we
were in a department store
where my mother stopped before a glass case
and I stopped too.
the case was full of toy soldiers, some with rifles
and bayonets, others were mounted on fine horses.
there were toy cannons and there were soldiers with
machine guns.
there was even a castle with a moat, there were toy
airplanes and tanks
and my mother said, “do you want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”
“no,” I said.
I knew we were poor and I didn’t want her to spend
the money
but I wanted those soldiers in their various colored
uniforms, their different types of helmets and all
their stances: marching, charging, firing.
there were officers and enlisted men, there were
flags, there were raised swords…

“are you sure you don’t want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”

“I don’t want them…”

we walked on, went to another department where my
mother bought me stockings and underwear.
they were to be wrapped in bright packages and
placed under the tree.

that Christmas was hell but when my war finally
came along, as wars will do, and I couldn’t get
past the psychiatrist
I was pleased to learn of my

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript