the drunk with the little legs

he fell down a stairway as a child
and they had to operate on his legs
and when they were done
his legs were about half the length
they were meant to be
and that’s the way he grew into
with those very short legs
he hung around the Paris cafes
and sketched the dancing girls
and drank very much.
(it’s strange that most of those
who create well seem to have some
he was subsisting on his paintings
as advertising posters
when along came the beautiful
and terrible whore
and he painted her
and became involved
short legs and all.
she, of course, was hardly faithful,
and one night, defending her
she told him about his legs.
that ended the affair.
he turned on the gas jets
then shut them off
to finish a painting.

he was a little gentleman.
at least he was in this movie
I saw.
he liked to wear a top hat
and he sketched his things
while drinking;
doing it like that,
cutting through the odds,
he had it down tight and
he sketched all the dancing
that would never be his,
and one night
he got it all down and
tumbling drunk down a
little legs whirling
be became involved with that
other terrible and beautiful

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