Sunday, December 4, 2011

All the bad boys sip bourbon.

Bukowski was such a bad boy.

They called him ugly and dumb and it made him mean.

He became rough around the edges so young, and that’s how all bad boys start out.

The way his family lived off of almost nothing

and the way his daddy hit him

and the way his momma looked away.

These are the things that fueled his wordfire.

This is the stuff bad boys and writing legends are made of.

“all you need to get by

is the ultimate grace

that makes you want to weep

but instead

you grin.”

In different universe,

another time and place,

where I enjoy big cities and the years don’t matter,

we would have a secret love affair.

Bukowski and I.

“We are here to drink beer.

We are here to kill war.

We are here to laugh at the odds

and live our lives so well

that Death will tremble to take us.”

We are sitting at opposite ends of some hole-in-the-wall bar

where drinks are cheap because the air is so dirty

and no matter how drunk you become

you cannot forget where you are.

(I’d never be caught in a place like this now,

but these are the sixties

and I’m dreaming

and I’m a different kind of girl back then.)

Billie Holiday is telling me I’d better go now,

and when I look towards the door,

I spot him.

His face is scarred and his eyes are dark

and I cannot look away.

He scowls at me and I just stare.

“What matters is

how well you walk through the fire.”

Here is a man who has something to offer me.

Words. Stories.

Things I need to know.

I buy him a drink.


because the word feels old and wise from my young mouth.

And I don’t know what he drinks,

but all the bad boys sip bourbon, right?

the dark is empty; most of our heroes have been wrong.”

He will probably write me off.

I’m too young and green

and can’t possibly keep up a decent conversation

with someone who has eyes

that know so much.

But I bring bourbon.

“one more drink and the desire to fuck something,

a desire to be loved for the lie

and the trick

and a face without a face;

and nothing had a better chance

to be beautiful.”

We don’t say anything.

We just drink.

Turns out he does like bourbon.

Turns out I don’t.

He orders another round

and a beer for me.

He asks me if I like art.

Art’s not my thing.

Words are my thing.

But they aren’t art.

They are children.

Each time I read or speak or write,

the words flow.

They are created with passion,

born and molded into my vision.

My babies.

He orders another round

and a beer for me.

some human beings are delicate things.

some human beings are delicious and wondrous things.

if you want to piss on the sun go ahead

but leave them alone.”

He speaks just as he writes.

All caps.

I could feel stupid, inferior, naive.

But instead,

I am sucked into the disgust and the passion.

His words come at me like bold type,

slanted to the left and slurred by the bourbon.

“the difference in the factories was

we all felt our pain


We dance.

I didn’t think he would.

But he’s drunk and so am I.

And we have no rhythm.

We are writers.

But we dance anyway.

Trust in me, says Etta.

And dreams can be built on kisses,

according to Louis and Ella.

We dance.

we were on the


we were in the

god damned moon,

we had it”

He leaves me on the dance floor,

pays the bartender.

No words are spoken,

it is understood.

I follow him to the door.

We walk through the dark and dirty streets.

The walk begins to feel uncomfortable

and I start talking to fill the silence.

I tell him about my schooling

and how my family is more dysfunctional than most

and how the last boy broke my heart and ruined me for all future love

and I describe in detail the weird dream I had last night

that made no sense to me.

He smiles only at the last part.

“there is a look in the

eye: they have been

taken they have been

fooled. I don’t know quite what to

do for


We arrive at his small apartment.

He lives alone.

I ask if he ever gets lonely.

You should get a dog, I say.

I don’t even always remember to feed myself, he says.

No way I could take care of an animal.

He kisses me.

You sure don’t waste any time, I say after.

He kisses me again.

Probably trying to shut me up.

It works.

“those ears those

arms those

elbows those eyes

looking the fondness and

the waiting I have been

held I have been


We laugh the entire time.

In short bursts,

we laugh.

In long, convulsing moments where we must stop to catch our breaths,

we laugh.

Between the breathing, we laugh.

“it was deep


it was light


it was high

it got so near

to insanity

we laughed so


After, and still drunk, we speak more.

He tells me about his books

and his dead wife

and how his family is much more dysfunctional than most.

“what was wrong was never


and what was right never


We discover our birthdays are a day (and several years) apart.

I tell him that must mean something. It has to, right?

He laughs again.

He asks me to stay.

No. I cannot stay.

It’s been a dream or it’s been real life

and I am not sure which

but I must go now.

“the miracle is the shortest time.

you know

it was very good

it was

better than


Bukowski was such a bad boy.

I am no different.

The places I have lived

and the things I have seen

and the ways I’ve been treated

and the way I long for the bad boys of the past.

These are the things that fuel my wordfire.

This is the stuff bad girls and writing legends are made of.

“I remember when

your eyes

said love



as these walls

so quietly


All quotations belong to the bad boy himself.

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