she wrote me

she wrote me a long letter
about what we had was
self-imposed isolation…
mine, behind the walls of the
whorehouse and the back alleys of the
liquor stores…
her’s…behind the shelves of books and
inscrutable intelligence.

I find prostitutes and pimps, or whatever,
the props of your life ineffably romantic,
she went on.   but just as I found Jean
Genet enthralling
I could no more endure this life than I could
yours.   so, we are all

I believe that you would have found my life as
horrifying as L.A. is to me.   the banality of it
would smother you.   and I personally, cannot live
in darkness (though, it’s true, I produce my own).

you can be an excellent poet when you want to,
I respect this immensely.
if I write from a distance let us consider it
Atlantis, and I am the imprisoned queen-twin.
(there is more truth in that statement that you
would ever guess).

the monuments and maps of my life are as intricate
and barbed as yours (possibly), I pick my way slowly
and mistakes are painful.   in crossing one border
I have seen a light that is a dark star that is,
something that gives off darkness as light gives off

perhaps this all seems like allegorical horseshit to
you.   perhaps it is, but I think not.   you will more
than likely be drunk when you read it and could quite
possibly begin calling me names I am not particularly
worthy of.   but I would like to hear back from you.
knowledge and pain, and oddly enough, love are always
tied together.   I learned a lot on my trip, how ’bout

dear J:
           I feel lucky that I didn’t fuck you the first time
we met in Houston, but luckier that I didn’t fuck you the
last time we met in San Francisco.   this is the answer to
your letter even though I don’t know if you’ll ever read
it.   the words are yours but I’ll get credit for the poem.
you see, it could never have worked, the way I am.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: