We Both Knew Him by Charles Bukowski


we both knew him

I knew him before I knew you, she said
in bed afterwards, he was always talking
about you, he loved your writing and he
introduced me to your books and now
we’ve been lovers…
you know, he slashed his wrists several
times and just recently had himself
committed, did you know him?

yes. I said, we were in the drunk tank
together. the other prisoners wanted to
kill him but I gave a speech and talked
them out of it.

I used to think he was a genius,she said,
every morning when he awakened he would
leap up in bed and scream out,
‘how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death’
later I found out who wrote


yes, she said, that‘s when we
split, when I found that

how long were you with

2 years. he talked about you
all the time . Chinaski, Chinaski,
Chinaski… and now we’re together
and we’ve been lovers…

yes, I said. where’s the bathroom?
straight ahead through that door
in front of us there…

I got up, went in, pulled down my
pants, sat down, thinking, fucking
often has nothing to do with being
‘lovers’ and fucking seldom has much
to do with literature and literature
has nothing to do with fucking except
to write about it when more important
things give way, and most literature
is pretty fucking bad.

when I finished I washed up and
climbed back into bed with her
whereupon she kept rubbing one of
her thighs against mine.
she wanted it again.
she wanted to teach me how to
dance. I didn’t dance well. I
didn’t dance upon the balls of
my feet
she liked Greece, she liked to
talk about Greece.

come on, she said, this balcony is
just like Greece, follow me.

and we stood there on the balcony
naked with the cars rolling up and
down the boulevard I could feel the
wind and the sun about my nodules.
we stood there. she had false teeth
and kept lighting cigarettes and
talking and I had no idea what to
do with her.

ten she reached down and grabbed
my piece.
I took her wrist from underneath and
pressed my thumb against her veins
until the hand opened.

I told her it was too good damned
early in the morning
for that.

I went in and got dressed and I
knew I would see here one more
time and that
would be it.

discard or be discarded.
it was endless.

she gave me a copy of the
New Yorker and a six pack
of beer and, Mister Death,
I left.

Poem taken from The Smudge No. 8 edited by Hank Malone & Kurt Nimmo, 1981

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