good pay

I went to this same campus to read again
after many years
and the same professor was there
in his office
opening his desk drawer
to hand me another pint of whiskey.

after a while we walked outside
this place was high on a hill
all very green
all the young girls were walking by
just as they had walked by
many years ago
I told him, “it’s strange, the girls
don’t get old here.”
“think nothing of it,” he told me.

an hour or so later I read
got my check
and then went to the prof’s place
for a few drinks.

he had a new wife, another wife (a
recent student)–the prof was making
it, feeding upon the eternal youth
of the campus.

I reached under his wife’s dress and
grabbed a hunk of flank.
then I turned to the prof who was
bringing three whiskey sours.
“how do you get a job like yours?”
I asked him.

he passed the drinks out, laughed and
sat down.

“I was going to ask you the same thing,”
he said.

then I noticed my young girlfriend
pressed up against an English major
and giggling.

“it was easy,” I said, “all I did was to
lie as truthfully as possible.”

he told me, “that’s the best description
of poetry I’ve heard in a long time.”

I watched my girlfriend flirting with the
English major.

“don’t worry about that kid,” said
the prof.

“how come?”

“no originality.   you’re his main

we had finished our drinks.

“you make a great whiskey sour,” I told
him.   “how about another?”

“sure,” he said, got up and left.

I reached up under his wife’s dress and
grabbed some more flank.

she yanked my hand away:   “you old fuck,
do that once more and I’ll kick your balls

then my girlfriend came over with the
English major.

“this is Sonny Sanderson,” she said,
“he wants to meet you.”

I stood up and we shook hands.

“Sonny and I are going to dance,” said
my girlfriend.   “he says he’s a good

“you can really write,” he said.   “how
do you do it?”

“thanks,” I said, “but we’ve got to go
now.   it’s a long drive back to L.A.”

so after I finished the new whiskey sour I cleared out
and she came along as Sonny Sanderson loomed large
in the professor’s doorway
we got into the car
on the drive back I knew how I was going to hear
about it:   how I was no good at parties, how I was
afraid of people and that I couldn’t enjoy myself
and how I often imagined things that weren’t true
and even though I acted very superior to everybody
else I was actually a very insecure person.

which was all almost accurate.

she kept changing stations on the car radio
and she kept plugging in the dashboard lighter
to light her cigarette which kept going out
and as her hair all kept coming down into her
I checked my coat pocket to see if the reading
check were still there
I turned onto the freeway entrance
glided into the fast lane
turned on the wipers to clear the fogged-up
and waited to hear about

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript