THE POET

in almost all of his poems he talks about THE POET,
and he often mentions the moon but most often he
speaks of THE POET–line after line he speaks of
THE POET, THE POET this, THE POET that
until you hope you never ever have to see a POET.

this descendant from the 17th century lineage of
poetic godliness with the Brooklyn accept
hasn’t had much luck (lately)
which makes him all the more sure of his immor-
ality:
public acceptance is a sign of spiritual decay:
how can a man be a fucking genius
when he once puked up his guts in unpaid rooms
and now lives in his own home and drives a
BMW?
fame sucks…

this POET, when we were both on the skids, he
dressed worse than I, his shirt was always stained
with vomit and drink, there were always a couple of
buttons missing and his big gut punching through the
portals, and his pants either had a broken zipper
or he only wore the zipper pulled up part ways, yet
he usually wore a bright scarf about his throat–
this indicated the POET part, and in between drinking
my booze and snoring the nights upon my couch and
puking on the rug
he managed in between times and at many other times
to proclaim various things about THE POET
in a very LOUD voice as if the gods were listening;
perhaps they were, I surely was.

“Jesus,” I’d tell him, “let up a bit…”

but he talked on and on about THE POET….”


I haven’t seen him in some years, hiding out here
among the Calla lillies, but people still tell me
about him even when I don’t ask:

“he’s on ATD…”

“he’s in Denver…”

“he went back to New York…”

life not only seems to go on for a while but the POETS
never stop: the good and the bad continue with equal
ego and contumely
and sometimes I’ll get free lit mags in the mail
and there he will be in some of them still writing
poems about THE POET, or sometimes self-interviews
or essays about THE POET, and I read these with a
curious interest because he seems to mention my
name quite often
again and again pronouncing that I’m finished as
a writer,
he can’t seem to let off that, which doesn’t make
sense to me:   I mean when you bury a man, just give
him a rose and walk away.

I thumb through these free lit mags, most East coast
based, and there are photographs, he’s most often
photographed with some of the old Beats;–those kitties
are still hanging together, wondering where the luck
went, pumping themselves up as the young girls jump
into bed with prospects of more original gamble, the
old Beats look so fattened, haggard, mad, like old
prostitutes still flashing worn garter-belts in motels
with neon signs with some letters missing, or they are
like door-to-door salesmen, now retired, they stand
photographed together, standing separately, holding
beercans in their hands that they are too dead to
drink from…

THE POET, though, his gut is bigger than ever, bumming
those french fries and hamburgers and beer and half-
dogs, and his hair has whitened–that’s no sin– but
I feel this unwanted and unrealistic sadness for the
corner he’s backed himself into, but then on 3rd or
4th thought, I take that back:   he was always much more
clever than I:   I worked for other men, corporations,
industries, I gave away minutes, hours, years to doing
nonsensical tasks, coming in day after day, night after
night with my ass and my ears dragging to the floor
until I reached the age of 50–while he survived as a
POET, perhaps not in the grandest of manners but he
seldom bothered with the 8 hour job, if ever, he was
THE POET, and now, since I’m finished as a writer and
too fucking old for the 8 hour job, I guess I’ll just
have to cruise about in the BMW and wait for the arrival
of that precious sunset.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1983