flight time

we are sitting in the airport bar
and I wave to the waitress for another

he says to me, the idea is to get
enough light and enough shade and to
get the electric bill and the rent and/or
the mortgage, keep your tires inflated to
the proper level–

two of the same, I tell the waitress.

and, he says, don’t get overcharged by
Pacific Telephone, watch for the heat
in the rear view mirror, think about
exercise but don’t do it–

how’s your wife? I ask him.   you know,
she’s really a looker.

keep discarding friends, he says, because
otherwise you are going to have to keep
drinking with more and more people each

are you catching this flight or am I?
I ask.

learn, he says, that there will be hours and
days of feeling absolutely terrible and that
nothing can solve that:   new mates, shrinks,
change of diet, drunkenness, dope, humility or

the waitress has brought our drinks, I
tell him.

you will find, he says, that the most interesting
reading is not in the classics but in the daily

pardon me, I tell him, but I’ve been paying for
all these drinks–

never apologize, he tells me, and never say
‘thank you’ or ‘good morning’
cultivate your prejudices, they are real.
never attempt to be understanding.
treat your relatives like mad dogs.   they
are.   you owe them nothing.

you want another drink? I ask.

stay away, he says, from people who grow their
own grass, and stay away from writers, musicians,
ballet dancers.   painters are best.   next come
professional boxers and amateur plumbers.

waitress, I say, two more drinks.

and, he says, when somebody hates you
understand that you might have something
that they don’t have.

is there more? I ask.

he says, there is much more:   like
don’t give advice, and if you hear it,
reverse it and you might find some

please shut up, I tell him, the poem
ends here
at the bottom of this page.

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