"Don't Try".       Charles Bukowski 

Friendly advice to a lot of young men.

 

Go to Tibet.

Ride a camel.

Read the Bible.

Dye your shoes blue.

Grow a Beard.

Circle the world in a paper canoe.

Subscribe to “The Saturday Evening Post.”

Chew on the left side of your mouth only.

Marry a woman with one leg and shave with a straight razor.

And carve your name in her arm.

 

Brush your teeth with gasoline.

Sleep all day and climb trees at night.

Be a monk and drink buckshot and beer.

Hold your head under water and play the violin.

Do a belly dance before pink candles.

Kill your dog.

Run for Mayor.

Live in a barrel.

Break your head with a hatchet.

Plant tulips in the rain.

 

But don’t write poetry.

 

The rat.


with one punch, at the age of 16 and 1/2,
I knocked out my father,
a cruel shiny bastard with bad breath,
and I didn't go home for some time, only now and then
to try to get a dollar from
dear momma.

 

it was 1937 in Los Angeles and it was a hell of a
Vienna.

 

I ran with these older guys
but for them it was the same:
mostly breathing gasps of hard air
and robbing gas stations that didn't have any
money, and a few lucky among us
worked part-time as Western Union messenger
boys.

 

we slept in rented rooms that weren't rented
and we drank ale and wine
with the shades down
being quiet quiet
and then awakening the whole building
with a fistfight
breaking mirrors and chairs and lamps
and then running down the stairway
just before the police arrived
some of us soldiers of the future
running through the empty starving streets and alleys of
Los Angeles
and all of us
getting together later
in Pete's room
a small cube of space under a stairway, there we were,
packed in there
without women
without cigarettes
without anything to drink,
while the rich pawed away at their many
choices and the young girls let
them,
the same girls who spit at our shadows as we
walked past.

 

it was a hell of a
Vienna.

 

3 of us under that stairway
were killed in World War II.

 

another one is now manager of a mattress
company.

 

me? I'm 30 years older,
the town is 4 or 5 times as big
but just as rotten
and the girls still spit on my
shadow, another war is building for another
reason, and I can hardly get a job now
for the same reason I couldn't then:
I don't know anything, I can't do
anything.

 

sex? well, just the old ones knock on my door after
midnight. I can't sleep and they see the lights and are
curious.

 

the old ones. their husbands no longer want them,
their children are gone, and if they show me enough good
leg (the legs go last)
I go to bed with
them.

 

so the old women bring me love and I smoke their cigarettes
as they
talk talk talk
and then we go to bed again and
I bring them love
and they feel good and
talk
until the sun comes
up, then we
sleep.

 

it's a hell of a Paris.
 

 

The Crunch

 

too much too little

too fat

too thin

or nobody.

laughter or

tears

haters

lovers

strangers with faces like

the backs of

thumb tacks

armies running through

streets of blood

waving winebottles

bayoneting and fucking

virgins.

an old guy in a cheap room

with a photograph of M. Monroe.

there is a loneliness in this world so great

that you can see it in the slow movement

of the hands of a clock

people so tired

mutilated

either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other

one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich

the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us

that we can all be

big-ass winners

it hasn't told us

about the gutters

or the suicides.

or the terror of one person

aching in one place

alone

untouched

unspoken to

watering a plant.

 

The shoeslace

 

A woman, a

tire that’s flat, a

disease, a

desire; fears in front of you,

fears that hold so still

you can study them

like pieces on a

chessboard . . .

it’s not the large things that

send a man to the

madhouse. death he’s ready for, horror

murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood . . .

no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies

that send a man to the

madhouse . . .

not the death of his love

but a shoelace that snaps

with no time left . . .

the dread of life

is that swarm of trivialities

that can kill quicker than cancer

and which are always there –

license plates or taxes

or expired driver’s license,

or hiring or firing,

doing it or having it done to you, or

constipation

speeding tickets

rickets or crickets or mice or termites or

roaches or flies or a

broken hook on a

screen, or out of gas

or too much gas,

the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk,

the president doesn’t care and the governor’s

crazy.

light switch broken, mattress like a

porcupine;

$105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at

Sears Roebuck;

and the phone bill’s up and the market’s

down

and the toilet chain is

broken,

and the light has burned out –

the hall light, the front light, the back light

the inner light; it’s

darker than hell

and twice as

expensive.

Then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails

and people who insist they’re

your friends;

there’s always that and worse;

leaky faucet, Christ and Christmas;

blue salami, 9 day rains,

50 cent avocados

and purple liverwurst.

 

or making it

as a waitress at Norm’s on the split shift,

or as an emptier of

bedpans,

or as a carwash or a busboy

or a stealer of old lady’s purses

leaving them screaming on the sidewalks

with broken arms at the age of

80.

 

suddenly

2 red lights in your rear view mirror

and blood in your

underwear;

toothache, and $979 for a bridge

$300 for a gold

tooth,

and China and Russia and America, and

long hair and short hair and no

hair, and beards and no

faces, and plenty of zigzag, but no

pot, except maybe one to piss in and

the other one around your

gut.

with each broken shoelace

out of one hundred broken shoelaces,

one man, one woman, one

thing enters a

madhouse.

 

so be careful

when you

bend over.

 

                                                    Dinosauria, We
 

Born like this 
Into this 
As the chalk faces smile 
As Mrs. Death laughs 
As the elevators break 
As political landscapes dissolve 
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree 
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey 
As the sun is masked 
We are 
Born like this 
Into this 
Into these carefully mad wars 
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness 
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other 
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings 
Born into this 
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die 
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty 
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed 
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes 
Born into this 
Walking and living through this 
Dying because of this 
Muted because of this 
Castrated 
Debauched 
Disinherited 
Because of this 
Fooled by this 
Used by this 
Pissed on by this 
Made crazy and sick by this 
Made violent 
Made inhuman 
By this 
The heart is blackened 
The fingers reach for the throat 
The gun 
The knife 
The bomb 
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god 
The fingers reach for the bottle 
The pill 
The powder 
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness 
We are born into a government 60 years in debt 
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt 
And the banks will burn 
Money will be useless 
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets 
It will be guns and roving mobs 
Land will be useless 
Food will become a diminishing return 
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many 
Explosions will continually shake the earth 
Radiated robot men will stalk each other 
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms 
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground 
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night 
Trees will die 
All vegetation will die 
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men 
The sea will be poisoned 
The lakes and rivers will vanish 
Rain will be the new gold 
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind 
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases 
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition 
The petering out of supplies 
The natural effect of general decay 
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard 
Born out of that. 
The sun still hidden there 
Awaiting the next chapter.