sloppy day

I had been up until 3 a.m. the night before.
heavy drinking: beer, vodka, wine
and there I was at the track
on a Sunday.
it was hot.
everybody was there.
the killers, the lovers, the fools.
the brother of Jesus Christ.
the uncle of Mickey Mouse.
there were 50,000 of them.
the track was giving away
free caps
and 45,000 of those people were
wearing caps
and there weren’t enough seats
and the crappers were crowded
and during the races
the people screamed so loud
that you couldn’t hear
the announcer’s calls and
the lines were so long
it took you
20 minutes to lay a bet and
in between running to the crapper
and trying to bet
it was a day you
would rather begin
all over again
someplace else
but it was too late and
there were elbows and assholes every-
where and
all the women looked dumb and ugly and
all the men looked stupid and ugly
and suddenly
I got a vision of
the whole mass of them copulating
in the infield
like death blasting death with
stinking and stale semen.
they were walking all around
belching, farting
bumping into each other
hating the dream
for not working…

some fat son of a bitch with
a large pink pig’s head
on his body
came rushing at me
I pretended to be looking off
and as he closed in
I dug my elbow into his gut.
I felt it sink in like it was
entering a sack of dirty

“mother,” he gasped,

“you all right, buddy?” I

he looked as if
he were going to puke.
his mouth opened.
he cupped his hands and
and a pair of
yellow and green false teeth
with faded pink insides
fell into his palms.

I walked on through the crowd
and found a betting line.
I decided to bet the last 5 races
and leave.
the only way I would stay
would be for $200 an hour
tax free.

20 minutes later
I had made my bets
and I walked out to the parking lot
and to my car.
I got in
opened the windows and
took off my shoes.

then I noticed
that I was blocked in.
some guy had park behind me
in the exit space.

I started the engine
put it in reverse and
jammed my bumper against him.
he had his hand brake on
but luckily he was in neutral and
I slowly ground him back against
another car.
now the other car wouldn’t be able
to get out.

what made a son of a bitch
that way?
didn’t they have any

I put my shoes on
got out
and let the air out of his
left front tire.

no good.
he probably had a spare.
so I let the air out of his
left rear tire
got back into my car and
manoevered it out of there
with some difficulty.

it felt good to
drive out of that racetrack.
it sure as hell felt better than
my first piece of ass and
many of the other pieces
which followed.

and I got on the freeway and
turned the radio on and
the man told me
I had just won
the first of my 5 bets.
the horse paid $12.40.
at ten win that was
$52 profit so
I wasn’t on skid row

by the time
I got in my driveway
the man on the radio told me
that my next horse had
run out.
they had sent in a $75 longshot
from Turf Paradise.

I parked it in the garage
climbed out
put my key in the front door
kicked it open
got my blade out: over 50%
of home burglaries were in
I checked the immediate
visible area
walked into the bathroom
pulled back the shower curtain:

I walked out
stood in the front room
and then I heard a sound
in the kitchen
and I yelled,

there was no answer.


I ran into the kitchen with my
blade extended.

my cat was sitting up on the
he looked at me, then leaped off,
zoomed out of the kitchen.

I walked into the bedroom and
switched on the tube.
the Rams and Lions were
I kicked my shoes off, stretched
on the bed, said, “shit.”
got up again, went downstairs,
cracked a beer, came up, let the
bathwater run
then stretched on the bed again.

the QB took the ball
dropped back
looked downfield to pass and
he didn’t see the big lineman
breaking in
from his left.
the lineman blindsided the QB
like a trash collection truck.

the QB was making $220,000 a year
and he earned much of it
on that play.

he didn’t get up.
he couldn’t.
he didn’t want to.

I could have been a football
only my father, that son of a
bitch, said that a man went to
school to study.

I flipped off the tv
disrobed and
walked into the bathroom.
I turned off the water
tested it with my hand.

nothing like a hot bath
in a cold world.
I got in
stretched out,
the 230 pounds of me
pushing the water
through the drain outlet.

son of a bitch,
why did they build
5 foot bathtubs
in a world of
6 foot people?

nobody knew anything
and they weren’t getting
any better.

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