dog fight

he draws up against my rear bumper in the first lane,
I can see his head in the rear view mirror, his eyes
are blue and he sucks upon a dead cigar.
I pull over.  he passes, then slows.   I don’t like
I pull back into the fast lane, engage myself upon
his rear bumper.   we are as a team passing through
I turn the radio on and light a cigarette.
he ups it 5 mph, I do likewise.   we are as a team
entering Inglewood.
he pulls out of the fast lane and I drive past.
then I slow.   when I check the rear view he is
upon my bumper again.
he has almost made me miss my turnoff at Century.
I hit the blinker and fire across 3 lanes of
traffic, just make the off-ramp…
blazing past the front of an inflammable tanker.
blue eyes comes down from behind the tanker and
we veer down the ramp in separate lanes to the signal
and we sit there side by side, not looking at each
I am caught behind an empty school bus as he idles
behind a Mercedes.
the signal switches and he is gone.   I cut to the
inner lane behind him, then I see that the parking
lane is open and I flash by inside of him and the
Mercedes, turn up the radio, make the green as the
Mercedes and blue eyes run the yellow into the red.
they make it as I power it and switch back ahead of
them in their lane in order to miss a parked vegetable
now we are running 1-2-3, not a cop in sight we are
moving through a 1980 California July
we are driving with a skillful nonchalance
we are moving in perfect anger
we are as a team
approaching LAX:

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