It’s All A Matter Of Entertainment

one goes from being a poet to being
an entertainer

I read in Arkansas once
and the professor there told me,
“you realize you’re an
entertainer now, don’t you?
That time, starting from Los Angeles
I began to feel bad about it anyhow,
because when the crowds finally begin
to accept you
then you become very suspect of your artistry,
and so starting from Los Angeles
we took to the air
and the flight Capt. introduced   himself
as “Captain Winehead,”
and thousands of miles
later I found myself transferred to a
small 2-engined plane
and we took off
and the stewardess
put a drink in my hand
took my money
and then hollered out,
“Drink up, we’re landing!”
we landed, took off, she put another
drink in my hand, took my money, hollered out,
“Drink up, we’re landing!”
the 3rd. time I ordered two drinks
she accepted, although we only landed once more.
I read twice that night in two Arkansas
towns and ended up in a place with clean rugs,
drinks, a fireplace and a circle of professors
who spoke about budgets and Fulbright
scholarships    I kept drinking,
and the professors’
wives sat very quietly and without voices

They were all waiting upon me
the entertainer
who had flown in with Captain Winehead
  to entertain
  to put the make on their wives
  to break the windows
  to piss on the floors
  to be the fool
  to make them superior
  to make them feel free and o.k.–
  if I would only fuck the always-offered coe-ed,
  if I would only stick a cigarette   in the cat’s eye
  or the cat’s ass

  and I got up and went to my poet’s bedroom
  closed the door
  took off my clothes
  went to bed and
  went to sleep
  entertaining myself
  the best way
  they knew how.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: