truth’s a hell of a word

50 million dollars worth of flowers
cannot cover the graves
or the errors
of men who thought they were doing good
but were all backwards
and killing and wailing for death
from their first breath to their last;
now, nobody likes a preacher
even when they think yes yes
he’s preaching the truth,
but truth’s a funny thing
from the bloody poppies of Flanders
to the Bulge that ended in snow
melting and clarity for strafing
and bombing out the long thin strings
of supply lines, or Rome taking the
best of Greece and passing it to the Huns
who spit it out.   truth?
truth’s a hell of a word used by
everybody and everything;
I think even sometimes the grasshoppers
use truth, and although they get
caught up on it, they are closer than
I thank god than the hummingbird was
built large enough
to escape the spider’s web;
I thank god for woman
and perhaps even for the bomb
that is large enough to blow some of us
or all of us away;
for when truth becomes too large
and too tough, evil becomes truth
and truth becomes evil,
and the good spinning of our lives
in the fire, and Milton’s fallen angels
dulled by the lake of fire
will someday rise
and change back the stream,
and I hear the sirens on the streets now,
little guns of little men
spurting spark, and a woman goes by
in toreador pants, her crotch too tight for
and I lift my glass and drink,
too tough for good,
and I see the spit and flame and cussing,
Hannibal slapping his elephant ass
and the hummingbird spinning free,
and everyday
there’s need to say less
and drink more.

Charles Bukowski
This poem appeared in the following books: