The Best Way To Get Famous Is To Run Away

I found a loose slab outside the icecream store,
tossed it aside and began to dig; the earth was
soft and full of worms and soon I was in up
to my waist, size 36, and a crowd gathered
and by the time the police came
I was in below my head
and they asked me,
are you looking for
the end of China?
are you looking for
a lost key chain?
and little girls dripping icecream
peered into my darkness,
and a psychiatrist came
and a college professor and a movie actress in a bikini,
and a Russian spy and a French spy and an
English spy, and a
drama critic and a bill-collector and an
old girl friend, and
they all asked me, what are you looking for?
and soon it began to rain . . .
atomic submarines changed course,
Tuesday Weld hid under a newspaper,
Jean Paul Sartre rolled in his sleep,
and my hole filled with water;
I came out black as Africa,
shooting stars and epitaphs, my pockets full of
lovely worms, and they took me to their jail
and gave me a shower and a nice cell, rent-free,
and even now the people are picketing in my cause,
and I have been signed to contracts to appear
on the stage and television,
to write a guest-column for the local paper and
write a book and endorse some products, I have
enough money to last me several years
at the best of hotels, but as soon as I get out of here
I’m gonna find me another loose slab and begin to
dig, dig, dig, and this time
I’m not coming back . . .
and the reporters keep asking,
why did you do it? but I just light my cigarette
and smile.

Charles Bukowski
This poem appeared in the following books: