screwed within the universe

only I know where I came
from.
I almost lost it
entirely.
I used to sit on stairways
for hours.
not moving.
and the stairways weren’t
even mine.

I don’t mean that I was an
idiot.
what I mean is that
I was larded over with
disinterest.

I didn’t care if you would come
along to kill me.
I wouldn’t stop you.

I was placed somewhere that
meant nothing to
me.

I found places to stay.
small rooms. bars. jails.
sleep and drunkenness seemed
the only possibilities.
all else seemed
nonsense.

one night I sat and looked at the
Mississippi river all night.
I don’t know why.
the river ran by and it
stank.

I always seemed to be
on a cross country
bus
traveling
somewhere.
looking out a dirty
window at
nothing.

I always knew how much
money I was
carrying.
like a five and two ones
in my wallet
and a nickel, a dime and
two pennies in my right
front pocket.

I had no desire to speak
to anybody or to be
spoken to.

I was looked upon as a
freak.
I ate very little food but
I was amazingly
strong.
once, working in a factory
the boys, the bruisers
were trying to lift a
chunk of metal from the
floor.
they all failed.
it was grossly heavy.

“hey, Hank, try it!” they
laughed.

I walked over, lifted it with
one hand, put it back down
went back to
work.

I had gained their respect
but I didn’t want
it.

at times I would pull down
all the shades in a room
and stay in bed for a
week.

I was on my own course
but it was
meaningless.
I had no ideas.
I drank.
and I drank.
and I drank.

I wasn’t lonely.
I had no self-pity.
I was just caught in an area
where I could find nothing
to function
with.

I was a young man a
thousands years old.
now I am an old man a
thousand years old.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1992
This poem appeared in the following books: