genius

he
usually wore a vest and
a coat no matter
how hot it was
and his clothes were
always dirty
except for a colorful
clean scarf

no matter
how many times
I moved
he always managed
to find me
for the couch
and the booze

and he’d drink
and he’d tell me
of his genius
speak out
a few new poems
from memory

pass out
and sometimes
during the night
puke on the rug

afterwards snoring
keeping me awake
most of the
night

he’d jump up
at 6 a.m.
and take walks
around the
block

always coming back
with wild stories
about hookers
or
dead bodies in
the gutter

in a large voice
while smoking cigarettes
that dangled
he’d begin again
about his
genius

“if I were a
fag or a black
I would make
it!”

pacing
the floor

“if I were a
black fag Jew
I’d make it!”

well
he was Jewish
so he could
only make it
one-third of
the way

at other poet’s
poetry readings
he’d leap up on
stage
and read his
own things

he hustled so
hard
that people
hid
from him

“this pan-handling
has got to be
wearing,” I told
him, “why don’t you
get a job and
write
on the side?”

“NO!” he screamed,
“I GOTTA BE RECOGNIZED!”

he was good
he was a very good
writer
but
like the rest of
us
he wasn’t as good
as he thought
he was

I’m sorry
but I was always
glad
when he left.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1981
Source
Original manuscript