To Jane Cooney Baker, Died 1-22-62

and so you go
leaving me here
in a room with a torn shade
and Siegfried’s Idol playing on a small red radio.

and so you left quickly
as you arrived to me,
and we have said goodbyes before,
and as I wiped your face and lips
you opened the largest eyes I have yet to see
and said, “I might have known
it would be you,” …you did see me
but not long
and an old man of white thin legs
said, “I don’t want to die,”
and your blood came again
and I held it in the pail of my hands,
all that was left
of the nights, and the days too,
and the old man was still alive
but we were not
we are not.

and you went as you arrived,
you left me quickly,
you left me many times before
when I thought it would kill
but it did not
and you returned.

now I have turned off the red radio
and somebody in the next apartment slams a door.
the indictment is final: I will not find you on the street
or will the phone ring, and yet each moment will not
let me be.

it is not enough that there are many deaths
and that this is not the first;
it is not enough that I may live more days,
perhaps, more years.

it is not enough.
the phone is like a dead animal that will
not speak. it has spoken
but always the wrong voice now.

I have waited before and you have
walked through the door.
now you must

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