I’m flattered

the phone rang at 9 a.m. and I was down       in the kitchen
I picked up the       phone       “Hank?”       “yes.”       “this is
————-   ————.”       “hey, how you doing?”       “fine.
and you?”       “I was just feeding the cats.”       “I have to
tell you this, somebody phoned me and they said, ‘Hank died
last night.’   then they hung up.”       “I’m all right, I’m
feeding the cats.”       “when I heard, I broke down and cried,
I was surprised.”       “I’m flattered….”       “I’m calling from
New York,” he said, “but when I get back I’d like to come
see you, I’ll bring my new girlfriend.”    “sure, be glad to
see you.”

that was about the end of       the conversation       I hung up

all 5 cats were looking       at me, ten       eyes

there was another cat       upstairs       she ate upstairs
because       the other cats       terrorized       her

I spooned the cat food       into the containers       and placed
them on       the floor       they went for       it.

every 3 or 4 years       somebody tells somebody       else that I
have died       and I have to tell that       somebody else       no,
no, I’m here       right now

but that’s not as bad       as some woman named       Helen who
told somebody that she       had been married to me       for two
years

and worse than that one       was one where somebody claimed
somebody who called himself       Charles Bukowski       was going
up and down       the aisles at a poetry       reading       shaking
people’s hands.

I took the last bowl       of food upstairs       to the cat the other
cats terrorized       and I sat it down       and she went for       it.

then I went back to bed       with my       real wife       who was still
asleep       and I wondered why       that person       had phoned this
other       person       to tell them       that I was       dead

it didn’t anger       me       I just wondered.

I was on the minds       of a lot of       people       it was my own
fault       for being such       an       easy writer       to       read

many nuts read me       who didn’t read       Shakespeare.

tough.

the cat finished       its meal       jumped on the       bed
settled against my       left flank       and began       licking,
lick
lick
lick
lick
lick
head
bobbing
bobbing

the beginning of
another
day.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1990
Source
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: