Saratoga hot walker

sometimes when I’m standing and feeling easy
it will happen
it does happen again and again
somebody will come up to me and say,
“Hey, I know you!”
they will say this with   some
excitement.
and then I’l tell them,
“No, you have me mixed up with
somebody else,”
but they go on to explain
that I can’t fool them:
I   was a desk clerk at this
hotel,
or I    was a hot walker at
Saratoga, or I used to run numbers    in
Philly,
or they   saw me play    a part in   some
non-descript movie.
this makes me smile,
it pleases me:
I like to be recognized as a
regular old guy.,
a gentle member of the Race,
a good old guy struggling
along,
but I always have to explain to them that
they are wrong about who they think I   am
and then I walk away
leaving   them in disregard of
their visions.

the strange thing is that when I’m
standing   about
not feeling   good
worried about   trivialities
scratching at minor wrongs
nobody ever comes up to me
and recognizes me
as this or that or the other,
and I’m not,
I’m not much
and they’re right,
the mob   knows more than you
think
about
off and
on,
dead and
alive,
we are different each moment
and they
(like me and you)
prefer the up
the light in the eye
the   flash of lightning
behind the mountain
because as far as is   known
when down finally comes to
stay
nobody is ever mistaken
for anybody   else
except in major instances
of war, famine and
the like,
and so when they still walk up
to me
and confuse me with somebody
living
I figure
that in a sense
I must
be.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1983
Source
Original manuscript