small talk

so, all right, while we are celebrating and while
this crazy classical music leaps upon me from
my radio, ah, such a randy intensity, I light a
new cigar, realize that I am still alive and that
the 21st century is almost upon us (the Suicide
Kid leaps the days one by one) you ought to read
Conrad Aiken one of the most overlooked poets of
our day, he gets over-poetic but once in a while
he gets out of that and when he does you will
feel it like a branding iron out of hell, anyhow,
as I roll toward 5 a.m. in this quiet neigbor-
hood the 5 cats have been in and out, looking
for me, I have petted them, spoken to them, they
are full of private fears wrought by   the centuries
and I think that they love me as far as their
love can go, anyhow, what I am trying to say here
is that writing is just as exciting and mad and
just as big a gamble as it ever was because death
walks around in the room with me now and it speaks
to me, it says, you still think that you are a
writer?   listen, let me have one of those

help yourself, motherfucker, I say.

death lights up and we sit about.
I can feel him here with me now.

don’t you miss the young girls climbing through
your windows? he asks.

they all brought bad news, I tell him

but the illusion, he says, don’t you miss the

hell yes, don’t you? I ask.

I have no illusions, he says.

sorry, I forgot, I say, then walk to the bathroom to

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript