the boy in red for a 20

that’s what he said
that New York face
chunky in his light green suit
he’d made it straight up from the streets.

it was a 4 rounder
I had the green.

green lost the first round
the 2nd. and 3rd. were even
the 4th. was going even
when with 8 seconds left
green dropped red to one knee
with a left

the official decision
went   properly
to green.

“pay up,” I told New York.
“no,” he said, “it was a bum

I took him by the shirt
ripped a button off below the necktie
poured my beer down inside the front of him
and when he rose in his seat halfway
I put my right deep and hard
into his belly
he sat back down.

he pulled out his wallet and gave me
my 20.

“wanna bet the next fight?” I asked him.

“no,” he said, “forget

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