last seat at the end

I was always studying the wood of the
bar, the grains, the scratches, the
cigarette burns.
there was something there but I
couldn't quite figure what it
was
and that kept me going.

another one was to look at my
hand around the
glass.
there is something about
one's hand about a
glass that is gently
fascinating.

and, of course, there is this one:
all drunks do it:
taking your thumbnail and slowly
ripping off the label
on a bottle of beer that has been
soaking in the icewater.

smoking cigarettes is a good show
too, especially in the early morning
hours with the Venetian blinds at
your back,
the smoke curls up and forms its
divergent patterns.
this gives one the feeling of
peace
and really so, more so,
if there is one of your favorite
old songs
emanating from the
juke.

and if the bartender was old
and a little tired and a little bit
wise
it was good to see where he
was or what he was doing--
washing glasses or leaning
against the counter or
sneaking a quick
shot
or whatever he was doing
it was always nice to just
see a bit of him,
to take note of the white
shirt.
the white shirt was an
important backdrop to
drink to and
with.

also you listened to the
traffic going by,
car by car.
it was not a deliberate
listening--more an off-
hand
one.
and it was best when
it had rained
and you could hear the
tires on the
wet street.

the bar was the best
place to hide in.
time came under your
control, time to wade
in, time to do nothing
in.

no guru was needed,
no god.

nothing expected but
yourself
and nothing lost
to the
unexpected.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1991
Source
Original manuscript