They Arrived

I like to think about people like James Joyce,
Hemingway, Ambrose Bierce, Faulkner, Sherwood
Anderson, Frost, Jeffers, D.H. Lawrence, A. Huxley,
John Fante, Gorki, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Saroyan,
Villon, even Sinclair Lewis and Hamsun, even T.S. Eliot and Pound, and William Carlos Williams and Stephen Spender and Auden.

they brought me other things than my parents
brought me
I like to think of Carson McCullers
she brought me other things than my parents
brought me.

I liked the hardcover library books
blue and green and brown and light red
I liked the distinguished librarians
who stared classically at one
when you coughed or spoke too loudly,
and even though they were like my parents
they were not.

now I no longer read those I once liked
but it’s good to think about them.
I like photographs of Hart Crane and Caresse
Crosby at Chantilly, 1929
or photographs of D.H. Lawrence and Frieda
sunning at Le Moulin, 1928.

I like Andre Malraux in his flying outfit
with a kitten on his chest
I like photos of Artaud in the madhouse
Picasso at the beach with his strong legs
and his hairless head, and then there’s
D.H. milking that cow.
and Aldous at Saltwood Castle, Kent, August

I like to think about these people
they brought me other things than my parents
brought me, 
and they brought them to me well,
very well
when it was so much needed
they brought me other things
that I never knew were there.
those friends
deeper than blood
when there was no chance
gave me one.

Charles Bukowski
This poem appeared in the following books: