the pretty girl who rented rooms

        the pretty girl who rented rooms
down in the New Orleans the 2nd. time
this young girl with her breasts almost
hanging out
showed me this room and
it was dark in there and we stood
very close
and as we stood there
she said,
“this room is $4.50 a week,”
and I said,
“I usually pay $3.50.”
and we stood there in the dark
and I wanted to pay her $4.50 because
maybe I’d see her in the hall once a
and I could never understand why
women had to be women like that
and they just waited on you
to move
not move
hold still.
to be a woman means to direct a total
flow of traffic any way you want to–
all men like children and fools,
and I said,
“I’ll take the room,” and I gave her
the money
and the sheets were dirty and the bed
wasn’t made
and I was young and a virgin,
frightened and
and I gave her the money
and she closed the door
and there wasn’t a toilet or a sink
and no window.
the room was rank with suicide and death
and I undressed and went to bed
and the bedbugs began,
and I lived there a week
and I saw many people there
old drunks
people on relief
crazy people
good people
dull people
but I never saw her again.

yet I wasn’t that dumb:
I moved around the corner
to a $3.50 a week place
run by another female
a $75 year old religious maniac
and we didn’t have any trouble
at all.
and there was a sink
in the room.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: