Poetry…more like stories…on Tuesday

So I like these two poems by the “laureate of American low life” Charles Bukowski.  Because of the way he writes them they seem more like stories to me, short, short pieces that take you somewhere and bring you back again.   He was brilliant in his own way. Bukowski’s subject, his late friend and fellow writer, John Fante.   Just thought I’d share a few here on Tuesday. I’ve written the first out like prose, just because I wanted to.



John Fante photo by Los Angeles Times



one writer’s funeral

there was a rock-and-mud slide on the Pacific Coast Highway and we had to take a detour and they directed us up into the Malibu hill and traffic was slow and it was hot, and the we were lost.

but I spotted a hearse and said, “there’s the hearse, we’ll follow it,” and my woman said, “that’s not the hearse,” and I said, “yes, that’s the hearse.”


the hearse took a left and I followed it as it went up a narrow dirt road and then pulled over and I thought, “he’s lost too.”  there was a truck and a man selling strawberries parked there and I pulled over and asked where the church was and he gave me directions and my woman told the strawberry man, “we’ll buy some strawberries on the way back.”  then I swung onto the road and the hearse started up again and we continued to drive along until we reached that church.


we were going to the funeral of a great man but the crowd was very sparse:  the family, a couple of old screenwriter friends, two or three others.  we spoke to the family and to the wife of the deceased and then we went in and the service began and the priest wasn’t so good but one of the great man’s sons gave a fine eulogy, and then it was over and we were outside again, in our car, following the hearse again, back down the steep road passing the strawberry truck again and my woman said, “let’s not stop for strawberries,” and as we continued to the graveyard, I thought, Fante, you were one of the best writers ever and this is one sad day.  finally we were at the graveside, the priest said a few words and then it was over.  I walked up to the widow who sat very pale and beautiful and quite alone on a folding metal chair.  “Hank,” she said, “it’s hard,” and I tried in vain to say something that might comfort her.


we walked away then, leaving her there, and I felt terrible.


I got a friend to drive my girlfriend back to town while I drove to the racetrack, made it just in time for the first race, got my bet down as the mutuel clerk looked at me in wonder and said, “Jesus Christ, how come you’re wearing a necktie?”


the wine of forever

re-reading some of Fante’s
The Wine of Youth
in bed
this mid-afternoon
my big cat
asleep beside me.

the writing of some
is like a vast bridge
that carries you
the many things
that claw and tear.

Fante’s pure and magic
hang on the simple

that this man died
one of the slowest and
most horrible deaths
that I ever witnessed or

the gods play no
I put the book down
beside me.

book on one side,
cat on the

John, meeting you,
even the way it
was was the event of my
life.  I can’t say
I would have died for
you.  I couldn’t have handled
it that well.

but it was good to see you



3 Responses to “Poetry…more like stories…on Tuesday”

  1. yes,… I really like this…. actually wasn’t paying attention to when I got to the end and then I was disappointed there wasn’t more, but that is what the internet is for,…or library.


  2. Sarcastic Bastard Says:

    I love The Wine of Forever. Great stuff.


  3. Great post. Enjoyed reading it!


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