Only the Truly Lost

it is not true that Dr. Guillotin
who they named the thing after
died under it.   that’s movie.
and as the orchid dies without a
hospital and the grass goes
insane, let’s say one for the lost:
this man I met in the bar
at 8:30 in the morning
across from MacArthur Park–
we are sitting over our beers
he and I and an old whore
who had slept in an unlocked car
that night
and wore a huge blue necklace as
protection, this guy said to me:
“look at my arms.   I’m all bone.
no meat on me.”
and he pulled back his sleeves
and he was right–
bone with just a layer of skin
hanging like paper.
he said, “I don’t eat
I bought him a beer and the
whore a beer.
now there, I thought, is a man
who doesn’t eat
meat, he doesn’t even eat
vegetables.   kind of a saint.
it was like a church in there
anyhow.   only the truly lost
sat in bars on Tuesday mornings
at 8:30 a.m.
and then the whore said, “Jesus,
if I don’t score tonight I’m
finished.   I’m scared, I’m really
scared.   you guys can go to skid row
when things get bad.   but where can a
woman go?”
we couldn’t answer her.
she picked up her beer with one hand
and played with her blue beads with the
I finished my beer and went up to the
corner and got a Racing Form from Teddy the
newsboy–age 61.
“you got a hot one today?”
“no, Teddy, I gotta see the board; money
makes them run.”
“I’ll give you 2 bucks.   bet one for
I take his 2 bucks.   that will buy a sandwich,
pay parking, plus 2
coffees.   I get into my car, drive
off.   too early for the
track.   blue beads and bones.   the
universe was
bent.   a cope rode his bike along
behind me.   the day had really

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