On The Failure Of A Poet, On The Failure Of The Earth…

pinch-penny of light, rifted, pitied light
like the drunken face of God in the sand,
smiling forgiveness . . . some old candle burning
in some old house
on the last night of earth,
house burning,
earth burning
in tears and poetry
scorching the filthy stars to pieces.

stalwart death, clean-up batter,
picking his nose and his victims,
old buddy, chewing stale bread,
always successful
as I listen to the crickets
while the master poets snore,
as I bring up the walls of China
in my poor brain
and walk them in wet dark
dropping lilies into ponds
calling to the dead
who have crawled away to hide;
while the master poets snore
I pay homage to bombs against the tungsten
and the face of the Baune turning to blood
with only the eyes holding still to the edge of sunsets
not wanting to go down . . .

now I cling evilly to these walls
and stand before a mirror
examining my content:
I represent rent, cheap labor
and nickle-coffee nights,
dancer in the splendid hock-shops
and rooms that close across the throat of my weeping
as words fly from my small white hands
as the master poets snore . . .

are their birds more silken than mine?
perhaps, perhaps . . . it is so hard to deny!
what trick hikes their wings?
I tell you, no sparrow is more carved or
craving than mine . . . and yet
across my window
no voice answers, nothing responds;
I hear only the electric voices,
the shuffling of plates and lives,
on and on
these same simple dead sounds
enfolding me with their mass unchallenged weight,
while the master poets sing
and are praised,
and even fools love and are loved;
faith burns away:
I am a beggar hoisting lulled
sacked thoughts,
knowing I have the bolt to throw
but the catcher’s out of sight.

Charles Bukowski
This poem appeared in the following books: