heavy like dogs with cement shoes walking my skull…

I try to keep people out of here.
people never do me any good
especially their conversation.
after listening to them for hours
I realize that their words have
nothing to do with anything
and that as usual
they are only lonely and cowardly
and need to expell their spiritual
gasses to be
but no matter how hard I try
to lock them away and out
some slip through
usually upon the grounds that they
have done something good for me
that otherwise would not have been
but nothing good for me can be done
unless I do it alone
but at times I find myself being
kind to them just on some principal
of foolishness
and then they are there
across from me and around me.

this one night
after hours of drinking I looked up
and saw these faces without names
gathered about couch and coffeetable
saying things
smoking drinking

this particular night they are upon
Celine, they know that I like Celine.
“Celine went mad,” one of them says.

well, you know, when a man goes mad
it means that he says or does things
that seem extremely impractical to
people who consider themselves
I never consider a man mad
when he disagrees with all the things
which I consider proper
I only consider him to be a
dull and dumb fellow
more to be avoided than to be

well, this night they went on,
they were very liberal and conscientious
sorts, schooled in the humanities–
in other words taught to say what they
must say
and I looked over at my cat
and I thought,
my cat looks better
knows more,
and, best, he doesn’t have to pretend
defend anything
or believe

“Celina,” I told them, “wrote better
than any of you talk.”

“but he became more and more demented.”

“if so, he had something to lose,” I told

and that’s what they want:   a response:

get the old boy going, get him pissed.
maybe it will give us something to write

(talk with them and you become them.)

I shut up and continued drinking.
from Celine it went somewhere else.   Kerouac
was mentioned more in name than in reason,
and then somebody said, “The Catcher in the
Rye,” and then we all knew we knew something.
Ginsberg was brought in, petted and dismissed.
Burroughs was still o.k. but not as interesting.
Mailer, well hell, that’s big publishing, and
Creeley, you know, well those breath-pauses are
out-dated but meeting him personally was nice:
he was just naturally nasty, and Ferlinghetti
was asleep in the back room, and who could ever
read Tolstoy?   did you know that Poe was still a
best seller in Europe?   Hemingway was a fag and
William Saroyan in his later years had other men
writing his stuff? Henry Miller, well he died.
there’s nothing, you know, there’s nothing at

in the morning when I awakened I was
turned toward the window
white grease yellow of
morning burning my eyes
she said to me
(next to me in the bed there)
“you weren’t nice to those people
last night.”

“ah, are they gone?”

“are they gone?   yes, you made sure
of that.”

“how are the cats?    have we fed the

I got out of bed and went toward the
there was nobody in the bathroom
there was just myself.
it was a most pleasant and decent

I did what I had to do and came

she was sitting up in bed waiting for me.
“you just drink,” she said.
“you just drink and drink, you can’t
face people.”

“that’s true,” I said.

I climbed into bed beside her.

she leaned back upon her pillow.

“god,” she said.

then she got out and went to the
and I laid there and thought, the people
are gone, all the people are gone, I
can breath and I can stretch my legs
and nobody is talking about anything.

and from my place on the bed I could look
out of the window and could see the tops
of trees and I could see the bridge and it
looked like a fairly good day, reasonable and
true enough, and I pulled the blankets over
myself and stretched away free as I heard the
toilet flush.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript