the joke

men and women break
men and women
deliberately leaving
hulks in madhouses
sedated or
electrified
until they die.

cats kill cats at
3 a.m. in the morning
chewing off the front
legs and   getting to the
throat
leaving fur
and stiffened bone
for any collector of
garbage and life
past gone.

so many act so kind
and understanding
so many act so educated
and knowing
so many use the word
love
as if they meant
it

and too many believe it
when they hear
it.

our chances are violated
by our very desire to
be.

we have got to raise taxes
we have got to feed and
clothe and amuse
all those so many
in the madhouses
who believed in love
when there was so
little.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1975
Source
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: