the death of a hero

I was young when my hero was young
the only difference being that
he shot to fame
and soon I saw him photographed in
nightclubs with starlets
and next I knew there was a
war
and he was in uniform
in full garb just like
Elvis
but I remember that in his
writings
he said that he would never
go to war.

well, most of us have our
heroes
and of course we don’t want them
with
ordinary concepts,
we want them a little dangerous
and damned well original
and never given over to
any kind of
compromise.

so, with him
I couldn’t understand
how a man could write a thing so
well
and then proceed to do the
opposite.
I had thought that
what you wrote in words
was rather a law from your
soul.
I didn’t mean that you were
stuck there
forever
but a final complete
reversal
was impossible, just too
conventional.

so I turned on the bastard
but so did the
public–not interested in
his books on
army life.

afterwards he went back to Malibu and sat on that deck watching the waves
break on the shore like lies like lies like lies.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1990
Source
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: