These Mad Windows That Taste Life And Cut Me If I Go Through Them…

I’ve always lived in second and third floors or higher
all my life
but I got some woman pregnant
and since she wasn’t my wife
we moved over here—
we were in the back at first
2nd. floor rear
as Mr. and Mrs.–
a new start–
and there was a madwoman in this
place and kept the shades drawn
and hollered obscenities in the dark
(I thought she was pretty sharp)
but they took her away one day
and we moved in here and had the baby,
a beautiful skunk of a child with pale blue eyes
who made me swallow my heart like a cherry in a chilled drink,
but the woman decided I was insane too
and moved the child and herself to Hollywood
and I give them what money I can–
but most of the time I lay around all day
with the shades down too
sweating in bed
wondering how much longer I can fool them
listening to my landlord outside
watering the lawn

I can hear his hose
I can hear the water saying
“death death deatha deeth”
or I hear him rolling past with his mower and
the mower says
“shit shit shit shit shita shit
on you”
and 46 years hang on my bones
and big green tears cascade ha, ha,
down my face and are tabulated by my dirty pillow:
all those years shot through the head
assassinated forever
drank senseless
hobbled and slugged in factories
poked with bad dreams
tickled with monsoons
pewked on in 2nd. rate jails
dripping away in mouse and ghost-infested rooms
across an America without a meaning,
boy o boy.

about 3 p.m. I get up
having failed to sleep but more than a few minutes
anyhow
and then I put on an old undershirt
crisp torn fresh shorts
and a pair of stolen army pants
and I pull up the shades
and sit a little back in a hard folding chair
near a window on the streetside
and then they come by,
young girls
fresh fluid divine intelligent
drinks of orange juice
rides in air-conditioned elevators,
in blue in green in yellow in motion
in red in waves
in squads and battalions of laughter
they laugh at me and for me,
old 46, at attention, his pig green eyes
like a Van Gogh bursting and breaking
the trachea and tits of the earth and the sun,
my god, look, and here I am
and no matter what I said to them
they would run away
I would be reported as an old goof
babbling in the marketplace for hard pennies–
they expect me to use the bathroom,

a shadow-picture of their singing flesh
and the pliers of my hand–
a good citizen jacksoff, votes, and looks at Bob Hope–
and even the old maids
with husbands killed
making swivel chairs in industry
they walk by
in green in yellow in red
in blue and white stripes
and they have bodies like highschool girls
they perch on their stilts and dare me to break
custom
but to have any of these would take weeks and months
of torture–introduction, niceties, conversation that
cleaves the soul like a rusty ax–
no, no, god damn it!   no more!

a man who cannot adjust to society is called a
psychotic, and the boy in the Texas tower
who shot 49 and killed 15 was one,
although in the Marine Corps he got the o.k.
to go ahead–it’s all in the way you’re dressed
and if the beehive says the project
protects the Queen and Goodyear Rubber and so
forth,
but the way I see it from the window
his action was nothing extraordinary or
unexpected and psychiatrists are just paid liars
of a continuing social
disorder.

and soon I get up from the window
and move
around
and if I turn on the radio
and luck on Shastokovitch or Mahler
or sit down to type a letter to the president,
the voices begin all around me–
“HEY!   KNOCK IT OFF”
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!   WE’LL CALL THE LAW!”
on each side of me are 2 high-rise apartments
things lit at night with blue and green lights
and they have swimming pools that everybody has
too much class to get into
but the rent is very high
and they sit looking at their walls
decorated with pictures of people with chopped-off
heads
and wait to go back to
WORK,
meanwhile they sense that my sounds are not
their sounds–
66 people on each side of my head
in love with Green Berets and piranhas–
“GOD DAMN YOU, COOL IT!”

these I cannot see through my window
and for this I am glad
my stomach is in bad shape from drinking cheap wine,
and so for them
I become quiet
I listen to their sounds–
their baseball games, their comedies, their quiz shows,
their dry kisses, their kindling safety,
their hard bodies stuffed in the walls and murdered,
and I go to the table
take my madman’s children’s crayons
and begin drawing them on my walls
all of them–
loving, fucking, eating, shitting,
frightened of Christ, frightened of poverty,
frightened of life
they crawl my walls like roaches
and I draw suns between them
and axes and guns and towers and babies
and dogs, cats, animals, and it becomes
difficult to distinguish the animal from the
other, and my whole body sweats, stinks,
as I tremble like a liar from the truth of things,
and then I drink some water, take off my clothing and
go to bed
where I will not sleep
first pulling down the shades
and then waiting for 3 p.m.
my girls my ladies my way
with nothing going through and nothing coming in and
nothing going out, Cathedrals and Art Museums and
mountains wasted, only the salt of myself, some ants,
old newspapers, my shame
at not having
killed
(razor, carcrash, turpentine, gaspipe)
(good job, marriage, investments in the market)
what is left of
myself.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1966
This poem appeared in the following books: