the weather is hot on the back of my watch

By Charles Bukowski 1920–1994 Charles Bukowski
the weather is hot on the back of my watch
which is down at Finkelstein’s
who is gifted with 3 balls
but no heart, but you’ve got to understand
when the bull goes down
on the whore, the heart is laid aside for something else,
and let’s not over-rate the obvious decency
for in a crap game you may be cutting down
some wobbly king of 6 kids
and a hemorrhoid butt on his last unemployment check,
and who is to say the rose is greater than the thorn?
not I, Henry,
and when your love gets flabby knees and prefers flat shoes,
maybe you should have stuck it into something else
like an oil well
or a herd of cows.
I’m too old to argue,
I’ve gone with the poem
and been k.o.’d with the old sucker-punch
round after round,
but sometimes I like to think of the Kaiser
or any other fool full of medals and nothing else,
or the first time we read Dos
or Eliot with his trousers rolled;
the weather is hot on the back of my watch
which is down at Finkelstein’s,
but you know what they say: things are tough all over,
and I remember once on the bum in Texas
I watched a crow-blast, one hundred farmers with one hundred shotguns
jerking off the sky with a giant penis of hate
and the crows came down half-dead, half-living,
and they clubbed them to death to save their shells
but they ran out of shells before they ran out of crows
and the crows came back and walked around the pellets and
stuck out their tongues
and mourned their dead and elected new leaders
and then all at once flew home to fuck to fill the gap.

you can only kill what shouldn’t be there.
and Finkelstein should be there and my watch
and maybe myself, and I realize that if the poems are bad
they are supposed to be bad and if they are good
they are likewise supposed to be—although there is a minor
fight to be fought,
but still I am sad
because I was in this small town somewhere in the badlands,
way off course, not even wanting to be there,
two dollars in my wallet, and a farmer turned to me
and asked me what time it was
and I wouldn’t tell him,
and later they gathered them up for burning
as if they were no better than dung with feathers,
feathers and a little gasoline,
and from the bottom of one pile
a not-quite-dead crow smiled at me.

it was 4:35 p.m.

"the weather is hot on the back of my watch" by Charles Bukowski, from Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973. Copyright © 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1974 by Charles Bukowski. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Burning in Water Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973 (Black Sparrow Press, 1996)

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Poet Charles Bukowski 1920–1994

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Nature, Living, Death, Animals

Poetic Terms Imagery, Dramatic Monologue

 Charles  Bukowski

Biography

Charles Bukowski was a prolific underground writer who used his his poetry and prose to depict the depravity of urban life and the downtrodden in American society. A cult hero, Bukowski relied on experience, emotion, and imagination in his work, using direct language and violent and sexual imagery. While some critics found his style offensive, others claimed that Bukowski satirized the machismo attitude through his routine use . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Living, Death, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Imagery, Dramatic Monologue

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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