looking for Jack Michelene

like the rest of us, Jack didn’t always shine too brightly:
“the whole game is run by the fags, the Jews and the niggers,”
stamping up and down my rug, grey hair handing over hook nose,
he was a Jew, “look, Hank, lemme have a five…”
he slept on the couch and always awakened too early,
walking around and around the block,
coming back, stamping the floor,
he wanted to get the game rolling, he wanted to conquer
the world.
“damn you, Jack, I usually sleep ’til noon…”
he had a little black book filled with names
touches, contacts…
I drove him to a large place in the hills
and he woke the guy up.   the guy was good for a
“they owe it to us,” Jack said.
whenever het got ahead–that meant 40 or 50 bucks–
he took it to the track and lost it all,
had to walk back.
“nobody beats the horses, Hank, nobody, we’re all losers, poets
are losers…   who gives a damn about the poets?”
I saw his early photos when he was a young man from Brooklyn.
he was quite handsome, quite manly… at the front edge of the Beat
Movement.   the Beats died and Jack’s been crashing ever
since.   when his father died he left Jack 5 or ten grand
and he got married and blew it in Spain–
his wife ended up in bed with the Spanish mayor.

Jack can still lay down the line
and when he does it well
he’s still one of the best in the game
and you forget his complaining and bumming
and his demand that a poet should get special grace.
he came out with some powerhouse poems
in a Calif. mag
and the editor wrote me
asking where Jack might be
so he could mail contributors’ copies.
well, Jack is just not the suicide type
so I’ve been writing around and I get
“no, he’s not here, thank god.”
“who gives a damn?”
well, Jack’s not all that bad,
especially when he forgets the bullshit and sits down to the
so if you know where he is and have been hiding from him,
write me, Charles Bukowski,
I haven’t put him all the way down
even if once
he did piss on Barney Rosset’s shoe
at a party.

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