Guava Tree

I lay with my white belly up to
the sun under the pineapple guava tree
while other people’s children are at school
and my woman is at work
and it is quiet and I am with the birds
I count eleven of them on a wire overhead
and there’s nothing to do here
you know there was always much to do
but it was the other man’s idea
not only the man who was making all the money using me
it was also some man he had hired
who caused me the trouble
because he was almost as poor as I
only we were against each other and that just
wasn’t sensible, and it was tiring and deathly-
draining like something sucking at your mind and
your blood.
well, I wasn’t a revolutionary, I only wanted to
save my own ass, I figured that would be easier than
saving Humanity’s ass…

now under the pineapple guava tree I am still sucking at
the free hours
I can never suck enough at the free hours
blinking at the sun
scratching my nose
nowhere to go and nothing to do
and glorious in the transformation,
the boys would never guess how I did it
and I hardly know
but I knew in the factories
I knew in those places where manual labor was
grateful to do what it did for so little
that I wanted out,
my eye always on the window, the doorway,
and the workers liked me because they thought
I was crazy and the foreman was puzzled because
I worked hard but with total disdain.

now under the pineapple guava tree
the sun cutting under the branches
I still have the body of a young boy
but the face is very old
remembering the hours and the places
and what was done to the days and the weeks
and the years.

I turn on my belly
spread both arms wide
feeling like the wolf who got out of the trap
but without gnawing his leg away.
they got something, of course, that’s why I’m
still resting.
but it’s the parts that are left that I’m celebrating
under this pineapple guava tree
just before noon.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript