the room was small but neat and when I visited him
he was just on that bed like a grounded seal
and it was embarrassing, I mean,
coming across with the conversation;
I really didn’t know him that well
except for his writing,
and they kept him drugged–had to,
they kept operating, chopping bits of him
but being a true writer
he talked about his next novel.

blind, and cut away, again and again,
he had already dictated one novel
from that bed
a good work, it had been published
and now he talked to me about another
but I knew he wouldn’t make it
and the nurses knew
everybody knew
but he just went on talking to me
about his next novel.
he had an unusual plot idea
and I told him it sounded
and after a visit or two more
his wife phoned me one afternoon
and told me that
it was over…

it’s all right, John, nobody has ever
written the last one,
some only think they have.

you were really tough on those nurses, though,
and that pleased me, the way you got them
running in there in their crinkled whites,
you proved me more than right
in my assertion
that your power of command
with a simple language was
one of the most magnificent things of
our century.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript