Work-Fuck Problems

on a drive across from a horse stable
air cooler blowing
boy and dog on floor laughing

my dirty room is across the mountain
and I sit here inside my insides
creating half-generous emotions

the way to create art is to burn and destroy
ordinary concepts and to substitute them
with new truths that run down from the top of the head

this boy isn’t mine this dog isn’t mine this house
isn’t mine
but I own one half of this typewriter

on a drive across from a horse stable
the lady has gone to do her laundry
leaving me to burn and destroy
ordinary concepts

well, I could be working in a factory now
or driving a taxi
or picking tomatoes
if they’d hire me

the boy walks in with a water gun
squirts me

“look, kid,” I say, “I am trying to make a
living.   I’m not good for anything else,
even picking tomatoes…”

the lady and I argue about our WORK.
how are we going to get any WORK done
if we lay around and fuck day and night

old Ez used to say DO YOUR WORK
but he fucked too

me, I figure I can always WORK
but I can’t always FUCK so I concentrate on FUCK
and let the WORK fall where it may

confidence, I have that, and a   bit of talent.
but the lady is worried.   she thinks I am going to
fuck her into the poorhouse.

creation is like anything else good:
you have to wait on it; ambition has killed more
artists than laziness

I am not inflicted with ambition
I am quite safe
sitting across from this horse barn at
3 p.m. in the afternoon
I wait for Art to create me

it’s really pleasant

after 100 bad jobs
15 bad women
and 50 bad years

I listen to an opera on the radio
while the Indians and Mexicans bend in the hot sun
dreaming of wine bottles and revolution

I too have been on their crosses
now all I need do is tabulate the screams of my
well enough
and wait for the lady to come back with her

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