April 25, 2003

The Poetry Reading
-- by Charles Bukowski

at high noon
at a small college near the beach

sober
the sweat running down my arms

a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger

blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others

but it's for bread and beer and rent
blood money

I'm tense lousy feel bad
poor people I'm failing I'm failing

a woman gets up
walks out

slams the door
a dirty poem

somebody told me not to read dirty poems
here

it's too late.

my eyes can't see some lines
I read it
out-

desperate trembling
lousy
they can't hear my voice

and I say,
I quit, that's it, I'm
finished.

and later in my room
there's scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.

this then
will be my destiny:

scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since become tired
of.

and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were
fools.

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