Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A favourite Bukowski poem

THE TRAGEDY OF THE LEAVES

I awakened to dryness and the ferns were dead,
the potted plants yellow as corn;
my woman was gone
and the empty bottles like bled corpses
surrounded me with their uselessness;
the sun was still good, though,
and my landlady's note cracked in fine and
undemanding yellowness; what was needed now
was a good comedian, ancient style, a jester
with jokes upon absurd pain; pain is absurd
because it exists, nothing more;
I shaved carefully with an old razor
the man who had once been young and
said to have genius; but
that's the tragedy of the leaves,
the dead ferns, the dead plants;
and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
and screaming
screaming for rent
because the world has failed us
both

4 comments:

R. W. Watkins said...

Yeah, I've always dug Bukowski too. I haven't read that much; and while he was alive, his personality dominated and sometimes overshadowed his actual work; but still, I like what I've read over the years. I haven't read any of them, but I've heard his short stories are quite the breath of fresh air as well. I know there's one book that features illustrations from the one and only Robert Crumb, with whom you are most likely familiar.

Brian Campbell said...

No, I was not familiar with him by name (you just made me do a Google scurry), but I think I had one of his comics (done in the same quite inimitable style) on my door back in /around university days. It had been passed on to me by a friend. It features a guy standing by an open dryer door in a laundromat holding a gun to his head. The caption beneath says something like "JOHN HARNEY of FLAT PLAINS,NEBRASKA went out for a BEER during the SPIN CYCLE and came back to find his CLOTHES ALL GONE." In the speech bubble above his head, he's crying out, "All my DRESS PANTS! All my T-SHIRTS! All my JOCKEY SHORTS!" The comic struck me as emblematic of the cultural poverty of North America, particularly the mid-west. I had never seen anything like it. It was a good measure of who shared my sensibility: people who did laughed out loud, people who didn't thought it was just stupid. Obviously it remains unforgettable to this day.

Brian Campbell said...

... oh, and I meant to add, click on the Bukowski label underneath this post and you'll find another featuring a couple of other good poems by him.

Jack Botkins said...

one of the best poems ever written.