I remember, he told me, that when I was 4 or
5 years old my mother was always taking me
to the doctor and saying, ‘he hasn’t pooped’.

she was always asking me, ‘have you
it seemed to be her favorite question.
and, of course, I couldn’t lie, I had real problems
I was all knotted up inside.
my parents did it to me.

I looked at these huge dumb beings, my father,
my mother, I mean, they really seemed stupid.
sometimes I thought they were just pretending
to be stupid because nobody could be that
stupid normally.
but they weren’t pretending.
they had me all knotted up like a pretzel.

I mean, I had to live with them, they told
me what to do and how to do it and when.
they fed, housed and clothed me.
and worst of all, there was no other place for
me to go, no choice:
I had to be with them.

I mean, I didn’t know much at that age
but I could sense that they were these lumps
of flesh and little else.

eating with them was the worst, a nightmare
of slurps, spittle and idiotic conversation.
I looked straight down at my plate and tried
to swallow my food but
it all turned to glue in my insides.
I couldn’t digest my parents or the food.

that must have been it, for it was all hell for me
to poop.

‘have you pooped?
and there I’d be in the doctor’s office again.
he had a little more sense than my parents but
not much.

‘well, well, my little man, so you haven’t pooped
once again?’

he was fat with bad breath and body odor and
had a pocket watch with a large gold chain
which dangled across his gut.

I thought, I bet he poops a load.

and I looked at my mother.
she had large buttocks, they pushed out.
I could picture her on the toilet,
sitting there a little cross-eyed, pooping.
she was so placid, so unethically
alive like a pigeon.

poopers both, I knew it.
disgusting people.

‘well, little man, you just can’t poop,

he made a little joke of it:  he could,
they could, the world could.
I couldn’t.

‘well, now, we’re going to give you
these little pills.
and if they don’t work, then guess

I didn’t answer.

‘come on, little man, tell me.’

all right, I told him.
I wanted to get out of there:


‘enema,’ he smiled.

then he turned to my mother.
‘and are you all right, dear?’

‘oh, I’m fine, doctor!’

sure she was.
she pooped whenever she wanted.

then we would leave the office.

‘isn’t the doctor a nice man?’

no answer from me.

‘isn’t he?’


but in my mind I changed it to yes,
he can poop.

he looked like a poop.
the whole world pooped while I
was knotted up like a pretzel.

then we would walk out on the street
and I would look    at the people
and all the people had behinds

that’s all I noticed, he told me.
it was horrible.

we must have had similar
childhoods, I said.

somehow, that doesn’t help,
he said.

we’ve got to get over this
thing, I said.

I’m trying, he

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript