‘in this city now–’


“…wives’ heads are battered against kitchen walls by unemployed butchers. pimps send out their dreary and doped battalions of tired girls. upstairs a man pukes his entire stomach into a wastebasket. we all drink too much cheap wine search for cigarettes look at our mates across tabletops and wonder why they became ugly so soon. we turn our TV’s on searching for baseball games soaps and cop shows but it’s only the sound we want some minor distraction. nobody cares about endings we know the end. some of us weaken some of us become sniffers of Christ. some don’t. to know anything is to score and to score is necessary that’s baseball and that’s all the rest of it too. batttered…”

I think this is Bukowski, but I can’t find this excerpt in the database, but it sounds like him, possibly transcribed from my one book of poems by him that I can’t find now because my books are packed up somewhere in this studio apartment where people throw their garbage out the window from above, and the alley gets loud on a Saturday night, and someone somewhere in the million-dollar Rosslyn hotel has probably puked the entire contents of their stomach into a garbage can sometime over the past 72 hours, being a holiday weekend and all.

My ‘updated version’ of this piece goes something like this:

‘In this city now –‘

[for Charles Bukowski]

girlfriend’s skulls are smashed against bedroom walls by out-of-work laborers, pimps dispatch their spent and saggy flock of tore-up, saddened girls into the vast wasteland of burnt-out strip malls, sunken  speakeasy doors and neon  bail bonds – ATM signs in the same window, always strategically placed for where people are most likely to get into trouble..

Upstairs a man pukes from ‘rushing on his run,’ even though he knows, he can’t help coming back for more, turning hobby into habit, until one day it turns into a ‘wake up’ just to make it through the day. We all drink too much cheap beer, beg for cigarettes and look at one we have chosen and wonder how they became so unattractive so early on in the night.

We turn on our TV’s searching for basketball scores, re-runs of sitcoms and chronicles of murder because the sound distracts us from the despair and degradation everywhere.

No one cares about the ending,  the televised version is a flat-out lie, deception speaks with forked tongue, and every year, our innocence gets taken at a younger and younger age until fifth graders are copping speed when their Ritalin runs out.

Some of us lose our resolve on a hourly basis,  principles get murky by means of expedience. Some of us get born again (even though we haven’t died) or proselytize for a specific form of suffering,  lifers for exclusivity (you’re either ‘in recovery’ or should be), barking marching orders at anyone who passes by. Their prey: the wounded, lost and wandering, who bounce from doorstep to stoop, hands out, head down and soul-scarred.

Some just live their government-issued lives, shuffling along until it ends, drearily, like a mandatory detail in the rain. Some don’t know anything about anything  but wants and needs, what they see in the mirror and what they believe defines them, like a chalk outline on the sidewalk, showing exactly how the body fell, but showing hollow on the inside. To know anything is to get a leg up, and that’s about all you can wish for, in these times, in this city.

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