i can't stay in the same room with that woman for five minutes

By Charles Bukowski 1920–1994 Charles Bukowski
I went over the other day
to pick up my daughter.
her mother came out with workman’s
overalls on.
I gave her the child support money
and she laid a sheaf of poems on me by one
Manfred Anderson.
I read them.
he’s great, she said.
does he send this shit out? I asked.
oh no, she said, Manfred wouldn’t do that.
well, I don’t know exactly.
listen, I said, you know all the poets who
don’t send their shit out.
the magazines aren’t ready for them, she said,
they’re too far advanced for publication.
oh for christ’s sake, I said, do you really
believe that?
yes, yes, I really believe that, she
look, I said, you don’t even have the kid ready
yet. she doesn’t have her shoes on. can’t you
put her shoes on?
your daughter is 8 years old, she said,
she can put her own shoes on.
listen, I said to my daughter, for christ’s sake
will you put your shoes on?
Manfred never screams, said her mother.
you see, you see? she said, you haven’t changed.
what time is it? I asked.
4:30. Manfred did submit some poems once, she said,
but they sent them back and he was terribly
you’ve got your shoes on, I said to my daughter,
let’s go.
her mother walked to the door with us.
have a nice day, she said.
fuck off, I said.
when she closed the door there was a sign pasted to
the outside. it said:
I didn’t.
we drove down Pico on the way in.
I stopped outside the Red Ox.
I’ll be right back, I told my daughter.
I walked in, sat down, and ordered a scotch and
water. over the bar there was a little guy popping in and
out of a door holding a very red, curved penis
in his hand.
can’t you make him stop? I asked the barkeep.
can’t you shut that thing off?
what’s the matter with you, buddy? he asked.
I submit my poems to the magazines, I said.
you submit your poems to the magazines? he asked.
you are god damned right I do, I said.
I finished my drink and got back to the car.
I drove down Pico Boulevard.
the remainder of the day was bound to be better.

"i can't stay in the same room with that woman for five minutes" 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


Subjects Arts & Sciences, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Parenthood, Poetry & Poets

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 Charles  Bukowski


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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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Parenthood, Poetry & Poets


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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