From Neeli Cherkovski
This is the first publication of THIS ONE since 1962 when it ppeared in poetry magazine I edited, THE BLACK CAT REVIEW. I was then a senior in high school and Bukowski's early books, FLOWER, FIST AND BESTIAL WAIL and LONGSHOT POMES FOR BROKE PLAYERS were primary influences on my way of thinking. One day in the Winter of 1962, Bukowski drove out to San Bernadino to visit the poet Jory Sherman who was living with my family for a few months. I pretended to be asleep when my hero arrived. I heard a slow, distinctive voice, "Where's the goddamn kid." Sherman and my father brought him into my bedroom. "Alright, little Rimbud, get the fuck out of bed." I glanced up. "Bukowski," I said. "hi, kid," he replied. He glanced around at the photos of Hemmingway, Faulkner and Pound on my walls and said, "What! No Bukowski?"
I followed him back into the living room. The fireplace roared, the talk was good, and "Hank," as his friends called him, began telling stories of the years he had bummed around the country. While he performed for Sherman and my father, I snuck away, sat at my typewriter, and wrote. Returning to the living room, I handed the results to Bukoqski. "What the hell is this?!" he yelled. "You wrote about me!" He threw the poem into the blazing fire. I reached in to grab it, slightly burning my right index finger.
"Jesus, kid, I'm sorry" he said as i wiped the ashes away. "I shouldn't have done that."
Well, the poem and the poet made it through the flames, and here it is, as written in those long-gone American Graffiti days.
this one bukowski threw into the the fireplace (without reading)Bukowski looks out of his window he looks out of his Hollywood window his forty-year window his Hollywood Park window Bukowski looks down from his three story window he can see little children playing below and he cries because someday they will die when the fallout crosses the street they will die and if not the bombe then age or sickness or some holy accident he opens the window to let in the air he can hear the five million souls at Hollywood and Vine he can hear the children at Hollywood and Vine he leaves the window and says "it's life, man it's life, you can read about it in Revelations 94 he sits on the couch like a caged poem and he rememberssomewhere a long time ago there was a lie called birth and a child and a futurehe remembers that as a boy he had to sleep in cold boxcars on the way to the typewriter and once he was a child but no more he worked in a slaughter house and he didn't know why and he heard the sound of the crying cows and the thunder of death they had walked the poetic earth and deserved decent burials but Bukowski had to grab hold of the heavy corpses and recite a few prayers he had to drink little blood and he was only a kid and he heard them die he loved life and the poem and now he loves the third story room and the hell of passion he leaves his room sometime around darkness he is old and dying now but he can still get around on the plastered freeways and dreams at three in the morning and is loaded with roses and clippings from the pali cannons and stars shine at midnight but not early in the morning not in the poem early in the morning and he brings out the typewriter and writes tousands of poems to be published in the poetry mags like he was a saint or a prophet or had a monopoly on paradise and there are poems about ugly things and poems about little parakeets laid to rest in the hands of mad poets who seek to destroy and there are poems about war and songs and aging poets who look at things from three story windows who look at little children from poetic windows who hear things from graveyard windows and he writes about a poet who sleeps in the agonizing dream of memoryand thoughts and sorrows and joysand three story windowssee the poems Bukowski see the poems in the corner smile at the poems Bukowski maybe they will smile back"it's the line, baby, the line." The full circle.
- --Neeli Cherkovski
Neeli Cherkovski, author of six books of poetry, si currently completing his novel, ANGEL'S FLIGHT, an autobiography of the inner mind. He is the author of WHITMAN'S WILD CHILDREN (Lapis, 1989), FERLINGHETTI (Doubleday, 1979) and HANK: THE LIFE OF CHARLES BUKOWSKI (Random House, 1991).