"Save 5¢ per gallon". That reminds me of our supermarket fuel offers.
I Had a Beer with Bukowski
I walked into the bar and sat down
It was one of those decent bars
A few good women
The smell of smoke, beer stained chairs, and perfume
In the back, the clack of billiard balls
A soft hum of music: Patsy Cline
And there he was
The California shirt
The big legs, swollen from dragging the mail bag
Up Hollywood hills and down smelly, hot alleys
He was staring at the back of the bar
At the bottles of top shelf stuff that shined like hot coals
“Hey,” I said, and sat down next to him
He didn’t answer
The bartender ignored me for a while
I sat, looking a little dazed
“I don’t know why bartenders are such snobs,” he said
And this one is one of the worse ones.”
“Yeah,” I mumbled. “It’s not like they give out awards or anything.”
He nodded and took another tug on his beer
“Whattaya doin’ here, kid?”
“Not much, you?”
I nodded. “I’ve killed so much time, they should give me the death penalty.”
Bukowski smile. Another tug on his longneck.
I looked at a napkin in front of him
“What’re your writing?” I asked
“The bartender, she asked me for my autograph. I said I wouldn’t do that. But I’d write her a poem.”
“That’s why I drink alone these days. You get a little famous and they won’t leave you alone. I can’t drink in bars anymore.”
“It’s okay. Makes me not feel so bad about killing time.”
“Is that what poetry is?”
“Pretty much. A prettier way of killing the time.”
“She’s gonna sell that napkin, you know.”
“I write a little.”
“Got any advice?”
“Shit. You might as well ask me for an autograph.”
“Well, I’ll say this: stay out of the bars.”
“But the bars have made you what you are.”
“No, they didn’t. No one remembers what Beethoven drank.”
“Advice is just the last tampon in the box. Desperation. Fuck it.”
A blonde in heels burst through the door. We could feel the cool air come in from outside.
She smiled, and so did he. She tapped her way to the bar.
Buk got up, gave her a hard hug
And swung her around twice
“Who’s this?” she asked
“A writer friend,” he answered.
“Hey!” she said to me, smiling.
“You got a book?” Buk asked.
“Well,” he said, finishing his bottle. “Send me a copy.”
“I will,” I answered, smiling.
He slammed the empty bottle onto the counter.
“We gotta go,” kid, he said.
“Bye,” chirped the blonde, a chewing on a piece of hair.
“See you at the race,” Buk said. And they left.
I ordered another drink.
And looked at the poem Bukowski left behind.
It said, “Get fucked. Love, Hank.”
I left a bad tip and walked out.
Goalie, Street Football, Brindley Road, Paddington, 1956, printed ca. 1957. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Joyce F. Menschel, 2012 (2012.481.13)
they’re planning some shit