the death of the snowman

the only time it ever snowed in
Los Angeles
we built a snowman in Neal’s
front yard, the only snowman
any of us had ever
built:   raisins for eyes
wine cork for nose,
small carrot in mouth
like a cigar.
that was at 9 a.m. in the
by the time the noon sun
came around
all the snow had melted from the roofs and the
but our snowman was still
only he was getting
Neal decided that we should
put him in his parent’s
icebox so he would stop
so we did.

the next day the snowman
was still in the icebox
and he was only a little bit
he reminded us of the miracle
that had happened.
there were four of us:
Neal, me, Eddie and Gene.
we reached in and touched him
with our fingers.
we knew it would probably
never snow again in Los
and that someday even the
snowman would be gone
which made the miracle all the
greater as we looked at him
and touched him.

it was 3 or 4 days after the
one afternoon
we were out in front
when Neal looked back
and yelled, “THEY’VE GOT OUR

we didn’t know these guys,
they weren’t even from our
one of them had the snowman
and was running around
and around
in the backyard
like he didn’t know
where to go,
there was a large fence
back there.
there was the guy with the
and three other guys.
we ran back and started
swinging at them.
the guy with the snowman
dropped it and started
swinging back with the
other guys.
they were good fighters
but we knew we were right
and we were madder
and so they started losing
and getting the bloody
even though they cussed
better than we did,
we backed them off.
three of the guys started
but the biggest of them
the fourth guy
reached down
grabbed a chunk of our
snowman and stuck him
into his mouth.
“KILL HIM!” Neal yelled.
we went at him
but he started running,
he had these long legs
and we couldn’t catch

we walked back to what
was left of the snowman.
we’d stepped all over him
during the fight.
there wasn’t much left.
small dirty white chunks.
“no use saving that,”
Neal said.
and he started crushing
and stamping the snowman
into the ground.
soon there was just a
bit of wet earth.

“how’d those pricks
ever find out about
our snowman?” Neal asked.

there was no answer….

we were sitting around when
Neal’s mother came home.
she went in the house for a while,
then she came out.

“what happened to the
snowman?” she asked.

“nuthin’,” Neal answered.

“don’t talk to me in that
nasty tone!”

Neal just sat there.

“did you hear what I said,


“there you go again!
you come into the house
this minute!”

Neal got up and walked
into the house.
me, Eddie and Gene
got up
and we walked to the
and Gene went to where
he lived
and Eddie went to where
he lived
and I went to where
I lived
and we didn’t say
we didn’t even say
we knew it would
never snow in Los Angeles

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript