one goes from being a poet
to being an entertainer.
I read   in Arkansas once
and the professor there
told me, “you realize you’re
an entertainer now, don’t

that time, starting from
Los Angeles I began to
feel bad about it anyhow
because when the crowd
finally begins to accept
then you become very
suspect of your artistry.

and so
starting from Los Angeles
we took to the air and
the flight Captain intro-
duced himself as
“Captain Winehead,”
and thousands of miles
later I found myself trans-
fered to a small 2-engined
plane and we took off and
the stewardess put a drink
in my hand
took my money and then
hollered out, “drink up,
we’re landing!”
we landed
took off and she put
another drink in my hand,
took my money and then
hollered out, “drink up,
we’re landing!”
the 3rd. time I ordered
2 drinks. she accepted
although we only landed
once more.

I read twice that night in 2 Arkansas
towns and ended up in a place with
clean rugs, a serving bar, a fireplace
and professors who spoke about budgets
and Fulbright Scholarships, and I
kept drinking, and the professors’
wives sat very quietly without voices.

they were all waiting upon me
the entertainer
who had flown in with Captain
Winehead to
entertain to put the make on
their wives to break the windows
to piss on the rugs to be the
fool to make them feel superior
to make them feel o.k. and free–
if I would only stick a cigarette
up the cat’s ass
if I would only take the always-
offered coe-ed
who was doing a term paper on

and I got up and want to my
poet’s bedroom
closed the door
took off my clothes
went to bed and
went to sleep
entertaining myself
the best way
they knew

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