Posted by: jackslife | June 19, 2009

Friday Poems of Place – Bukowski

Charles Bukowski may not be in a place you would want to go, but this poem (submitted by friend Andy) seems to qualify as a poem of place.  Without further ado

Crucifix In a Deathhand
by Charles Bukowski

yes, they begin out in a willow, I think
the starch mountains begin out in the willow
and keep right on going without regard for
pumas and nectarines
somehow these mountains are like
an old woman with a bad memory and
a shopping basket.
we are in a basin. that is the
idea. down in the sand and the alleys,
this land punched-in, cuffed-out, divided,
held like a crucifix in a deathhand,
this land bought, resold, bought again and
sold again, the wars long over,
the Spaniards all the way back in Spain
down in the thimble again, and now
real estaters, subdividers, landlords, freeway
engineers arguing. this is their land and
I walk on it, live on it a little while
near Hollywood here I see young men in rooms
listening to glazed recordings
and I think too of old men sick of music
sick of everything, and death like suicide
I think is sometimes voluntary, and to get your
hold on the land here it is best to return to the
Grand Central Market, see the old Mexican women,
the poor . . . I am sure you have seen these same women
many years before
arguing
with the same young Japanese clerks
witty, knowledgeable and golden
among their soaring store of oranges, apples
avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers –
and you know how these look, they do look good
as if you could eat them all
light a cigar and smoke away the bad world.
then it’s best to go back to the bars, the same bars
wooden, stale, merciless, green
with the young policeman walking through
scared and looking for trouble,
and the beer is still bad
it has an edge that already mixes with vomit and
decay, and you’ve got to be strong in the shadows
to ignore it, to ignore the poor and to ignore yourself
and the shopping bag between your legs
down there feeling good with its avocados and
oranges and fresh fish and wine bottles, who needs
a Fort Lauderdale winter?
25 years ago there used to be a whore there
with a film over one eye, who was too fat
and made little silver bells out of cigarette
tinfoil. the sun seemed warmer then
although this was probably not
true, and you take your shopping bag
outside and walk along the street
and the green beer hangs there
just above your stomach like
a short and shameful shawl, and
you look around and no longer
see any
old men.

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