poetry readings

poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clansladies,
week after week, month after month, year
after year,
getting old together,
reading on to the tiny gatherings,
still hoping their true genius will be
discovered,
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause,
clasping at the assholes of the gods,
they read basically to and for
themselves,
they can’t find a New York publisher
within miles, within a
lifetime
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never daunted,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, the other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
in
from nowhere to
nowhere.

I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.

if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:
a drunken plumber at a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
rail,
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
an elephant’s fart in a circus tent,
a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
the mailman telling a dirty joke

anything
anything
but
these.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1991
Source
Original manuscript