the gamblers

walking near the wall shadows, owing everybody
but wanting to be there, no place else to go, shirt-
tails out, heels of shoes run down… old cars in the
parking lot, they get some money somewhere,
somehow, they know their day is coming, it’s got
to come, they walk through the hours, the days,
sipping at coffee, complaining:   “bad ride…”
“lost by a nose…”  “got blocked…”  “they pulled
it…”     “lemme have a 20…”

back to the place, waiting the next day’s card,
reading the Form.
the worst days are the dark days–no racing.
sitting at home with the wife, she wants to go to
a movie, a movie for Christ’s sake.
comedies, tragedies, shoot-em ups, love stories,
nothing stories
and when there’s a story about the track, they
always get it wrong.
really nothing to do but go to bed early,
figure a new angle, try to remember how it went
on your hot streak, what you were
doing… how you were doing

there’s a way to make it, there’s got to be a way
to make it, smart money, inside money, it’s all
fixed, you got to get with the

“what’s that, baby?
I didn’t kiss you good night?
o.k., here…”

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript