I knew this one
he’d been famous for decades
he said
listen, we’ll write letters to each other
we’ll keep carbons and then we’ll
bring out a book of our correspondence

so I said
all right
and we began

he was in Greece and I was in East Hollywood

he started writing about his days in Paris and Algiers
how he had met Burroughs and Ginsberg and Corso
and Gysin
there was even something about Picasso

all I could write about was how I lost at the racetrack
I was due in court for drunk driving
my woman was leaving me
the post office was trying to fire me for absenteeism

he wrote that he was supported by a Prince
and that wasn’t the first one
and how he lived in a thatched hut
with boys and goats
under a sometimes active volcano
he smoked exotic dope night and day
he spoke seven languages
he was on speaking terms with major editors and publishers
they were in England, Italy and America
he had stayed in that famous Paris hotel
(his poems had those startling breaking lines
my lines just went from corner to corner)

he sent a half dozen photos of himself (dated)
he had been to many brave places
he was smiling in fur hats
he had natty open shirts with chains
he had a drooping intellectual mustache

I wrote back that I had puked that night
I had mixed vodka with gin
I wondered if my woman was coming back

I finally gave up on the correspondence
I told him that I couldn’t go on anymore

he wrote back
so you quit
I out-wrote you
so you quit
you didn’t want it known that I could out-write you

you are the best
I wrote back
you are a Prince

I don’t know if I believed that
he must have
he never complained about our broken correspondence again.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript