The Kenyon Review and other matters

it was good being young but I didn’t know it, a starving
jackass, stubborn beyond reason, reading through that
tower of practiced literary horror, The Kenyon Review,
I still admired their gamesmanship, their snobby word
play, their inbred docility.
I was lower class, depraved, a spectacle, a dissolute
yet I was oddly charmed by their petty jousting, their
safe anger, their shield of learnedness,
to read these and others and then return to my small
room or the bars of night (more often that) to meet
another breed–club-fisted, bleary-eyed, cantankerous,
grubby, and joining them in their downward dance with
their cackling inamoratas.
drink tempered our defeat, it warmed us, it heated us.
our only challenge was ourselves, no one would have
anything to do with us.
rallied and maddened by drink, I tried these in the
alleys, these bulls, these bears, these dumb bastards
and they were good at war and I was not so bad.
it was a doing, a going on, nothing else.
our space was small and a bit unkind.

the next day to return to the library with a shut eye,
a swollen lip, skinned fingers, a wrist that hurt and
flamed like hell

to turn more pages, to find them thinner and thinner, less
and less, like gossamer wings that would not hold to a
strong light, I was caught between nowhere and nowhere, I
sat at that library table caught between suicide and
I was no longer young, I was older than the centuries.

I closed the last book, the last magazine then.

I walked out of there.

the streets were all I saw.

I walked into

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript