Kenyon Review, after the sandstorm

coming off that park bench after that all night
sandstorm in El Paso
and walking into the library
I felt fairly safe even though I had less than
two dollars
was alone in the world
and was 40 pounds underweight,
it still felt normal and almost pleasant to
open that copy of the Kenyon Review
and marvel at the most brilliant way those
professors used the language to criticize each
other for the way they criticized literature.
I even felt that they were humorous about it,
but not quite:   the bitterness was rancid and
red steel hot, but at the same time I felt the
leisurely and safe lives that language had
evolved from:   places and cultures centuries
soft and institutionalized.
I knew that I would never be able to write
in that manner, yet I almost wanted to be
one of them or any of them:   being guarded,
fierce and witty, having fun
in that way.

I put the magazine back and walked outside,
looked south north east west.

each direction was wrong.
I started to walk along.

what I did know was that overefusive language
properly used
could be bright and beautiful.

I also sensed that there might be
something else.

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