this most delicate profession

you can think about writing
until you can’t write anymore,
the trap snaps
and you’re caught between
nowhere and some
white air,
the phone rings and it’s
the editor:
“listen, kid, I haven’t
heard…”

“haven’t I sent you anything
lately?”

“no, not really…”

“it’s just a lull, a time
to re-group…
you know, I don’t believe
in pushing it out…
most destructive thing
you can do…”

“sure, kid,
sure…”

the writer walks down-
stairs and sits on the
couch with his
wife.
there’s a move about
Al Capone on
tv.
the writer has always
been a sucker for
gangster
movies.

the writer watches
the entire
movie, says to his
wife, “that one was
really bad…”

“it was worse than
that,” his wife
says.

the writer walks
upstairs, throws the
cover over the
typer, walks into
the bedroom, changes
from clothes to
pajamas,
slides into
bed
opens the National
Enquirer
and begins
reading.

I mustn’t press,
the writer thinks,
overachievment is the
motherfucker…
I don’t want my
brains
spread all over the
wall like
Ernie’s…

when the writer’s
wife comes upstairs
30 minutes
later
she finds the
writer
asleep,
the light still
on,
the scandal sheet
flat against his
chest

he’s safe for
one more
night.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1986
Source
Original manuscript