1. Home
  2. Poems & Poets
  3. Browse Poems
  4. the difference between a bad poet and a good one is luck by Charles Bukowski
the difference between a bad poet and a good one is luck

Related Poem Content Details

I suppose so.
I was living in an attic in Philadelphia
It became very hot in the summer and so I stayed in the
bars. I didn’t have any money and so with what was almost left
I put a small ad in the paper and said I was a writer
looking for work . . .
which was a god damned lie; I was a writer
looking for a little time and a little food and some
attic rent.
a couple days later when I finally came home
from somewhere
the landlady said, there was somebody looking for
you. and I said,
there must be some mistake. she said,
no, it was a writer and he said he wanted you to help him write
a history book.
oh, fine, I said, and I knew with that I had another week’s
rent—I mean, on the cuff—
so I sat around drinking wine on credit and watching the hot pigeons
suffer and fuck on my hot roof.
I turned the radio on real loud
drank the wine and wondered how I could make a history book
interesting but true.
but the bastard never came back,
and I had to finally sign on with a railroad track gang
going West
and they gave us cans of food but no
openers
and we broke the cans against the seats and sides of
railroad cars a hundred years old with dust
the food wasn’t cooked and the water tasted like
candlewick
and I leaped off into a clump of brush somewhere in
Texas
all green with nice-looking houses in the
distance
I found a park
slept all night
and then they found me and put me in a cell
and they asked me about murders and
robberies.
they wanted to get a lot of stuff off the books
to prove their efficiency
but I wasn’t that tired
and they drove me to the next big town
fifty-seven miles away
the big one kicked me in the ass
and they drove off.
but I lucked it:
two weeks later I was sitting in the office of the city hall
half-asleep in the sun like the big fly on my elbow
and now and then she took me down to a meeting of the council
and I listened very gravely as if I knew what was happening
as if I knew how the funds of a halfass town were being
dismantled.
later I went to bed and woke up with teethmarks all over
me, and I said, Christ, watch it, baby! you might give me
cancer! and I’m rewriting the history of the Crimean War!
and they all came to her house—
all the cowboys, all the cowboys:
fat, dull and covered with dust.
and we all shook hands.
I had on a pair of old bluejeans, and they said
oh, you’re a writer, eh?
and I said: well, some think so.
and some still think so . . .
others, of course, haven’t quite wised up yet.
two weeks later they
ran me out
of town.

"the difference between a bad poet and a good one is luck" 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)
Discover this poem's context and related poetry, articles, and media.
the difference between a bad poet and a good one is luck

Related Poem Content Details

Other Information