Pacific Telephone

you go for these wenches, she said,
you go for these whores,
I’ll bore you.

I don’t want to be shit on anymore,
I said,

when I drink, she said, it hurts my
bladder, it burns.

I’ll do the drinking, I said.

you’re waiting for the phone to ring,
she said,
you keep looking at the phone.
if one of those wenches phones you’ll
run right out of here.

I can’t promise you anything, I said.

then–just like that–the phone rang.

this is Madge, said the phone.    I’ve
got to see you right away.

oh, I said.

I’m in a jam, she continued, I need ten

I’ll be right over, I said, and
hung up.

she looked at me.   it was a wench
she said, your whole face lit up.
what the hell’s the matter with

listen, I said, I’ve got to leave.
you stay here.   I’ll be right back.

I’m going, she said.   I love you but you’re
crazy, you’re doomed.

she got her purse and slammed the door.

it’s probably some deeply-rooted childhood fuckup
that makes me vulnerable, I thought.

then I left my place and got into my Volks.
I drove north up Western with the radio on.
there were whores walking up and down
both sides of the street and Madge looked
more vicious than any of them.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript