shop talk

listen, he phoned me drunk (that is, he wore more than I), no often or no matter
how many times I get blown by the ladies with the shimmering molars beyond and
beneath the dusty drapes, I must never run out of words, like I can run out of
years but not out of words, you understand?–
those yammering bantering lucky words like a hot roll of dice…
periscopes of words…

periscopes of words? I asked.

let’s not be so exact, he suggested, but what I mean to suggest exactly, is that
when my words lose their stupid magic that they will be right when they finally
get to rip me as if they were piranhas (they, those, these)
all those who have been waiting until I   can no longer carve my words into
paper
because I   began in innocence and am still innocent
when I can no longer go it
it will be worse than death by Chinese torture
because   I’ll be less than dead and worse than
dead.

are you still with Lucy? I
asked.

ask me something important! he
exclaimed.

I don’t know what it is, I
told him.

I know, he went on, and even though I often feel foolish about this craft it’s
still a place to be, a sign of go; without   it I would be a spider without a
web, an empty   beer glass, shoe without foot, tailless kangaroo, mouse in   trap,
door without key, can without opener, lover without lovee’, and even though  words,
can’t fix the plumbing, stop a leaking roof, boil an   egg, solve a toothache or
climb Mt. Baldy,
even though   they might get into bed with many ladies who’d otherwise
prefer almost any other but me
this so-called good fortune brings with it   many aftermaths   of piss-ant agony
and dissolution which often takes months, even years of reconstruction to set me
right again–or as right as I   was, and sometimes sitting here drinking and
typing,    I feel very foolish  about this  craft, I feel very fake about it, very
leery, dumb,   wafting with the other flies over the quotidian dung heap
I feel very foolish about this craft but I can’t think of anything   else to do,
can you?

hell no, I answered, then added, give me a call when you’re
sober.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1983
Source
Original manuscript