the Lady in Red

people went into vacant lots and pulled up greens to cook
and the men rolled Bull Durham or smoked Wings (10¢ a pack)
and the dogs were thin and the cats were thin and the cats
learned how to catch mice and rats and the dogs caught
the cats and killed the cats (some of the cats), and the
gophers tore up the earth and the people killed them by
attaching garden hoses to the exhaust pipes of their cars
and sticking the hoses into the gopher holes and when the
gophers came out the cats and the dogs and the people were
afraid of them, they whirled about and showed their long
thin teeth, then they circled slowly, stopped and shivered
and as they did the cats rushed in followed by the dogs.
the people raised chickens in their back yards and the
roosters were weak and the hens were thin and the people
ate them if they didn’t lay eggs fast enough, and the
best time of all for us kids was when John Dillenger escaped
from jail, and of the saddest times of all was when
the Lady in Red fingered him and get got gunned down
coming out of that movie.
Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly,
Ma Barker, Alvin Karpis, we loved them all.   and there
were always wars starting in China but they never lasted
long but the newspapers always had big black headlines:
W A R      I N      C H I N A!
the 30’s was a time when people had very little and
there was nothing to hide behind, and that Bull Durham
tag dangling from the string out of your pocket–
that showed you had it, you could roll one with
one hand–plenty of time to practice and if somebody
looked at you wrong or said something you didn’t like
you cracked him one right in the mouth.   it was a
glorious non-bullshit time, especially after we got
rid of Herbert Hoover.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript