the fortune teller

I went to see the fortune teller one night
with my girlfriend
but although it was only 9 p.m.
the old lady was asleep.
the daughter who was very fat and almost
asleep too
said she’d do the reading
but I told her, “No, I want the real thing.”

so we waited on the old lady
and she came out and said,
“Ten dollars for a card-reading, 5 dollars
for a hand.”
“I’ll take the hand,” I said.

she took my hand.
“You drink too much,” she said.

“You’re looking at my face not my hand.”

“Drinking is not good for you,” she continued,
“it will make you sick in the morning.”

“No shit?” I asked.

“No shit,” said the old lady.

“Anything else?”

“You love young girls.   You are in love with
a young girl now.   They will destroy you.”

“Will they make me sick in the mornings?”

“Oh, much longer than that.   That will be 5 dollars.”

“Mama,” said the daughter, “that wasn’t a very long

“It’s all right,” I said to the daughter, “I won the
exacta today, it paid $280.”

“You won the exacta?   What was it?”



“Yes, 7-4.”

“Oh god damn, oh god damn it all, oh god damn it, oh god damn
it all!    she leaped up and down waving her arms.

“What is it?”

“I been playing the 7-4 exacta for years!   I didn’t play it

then the old lady began reading my girlfriend’s

I went outside and sat on the porch.   I didn’t want to
hear all that bullshit.

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