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William Sinclair Manson

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public-poetry / Writings · 1 August 2022

Public Poetry. Charles Bukowski.

About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter

BY CHARLES BUKOWSKI

he lives in a house with a swimming pool

and says the job is

killing him.

he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to

get rid of

him. his novels keep coming

back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams

“go to New York and pump the hands of the

publishers?”

“no,” I tell him, “but quit your job, go into a

small room and do the

thing.”

“but I need ASSURANCE, I need something to

go by, some word, some sign!”

“some men did not think that way:

Van Gogh, Wagner—”

“oh hell, Van Gogh had a brother who gave him

paints whenever he

needed them!”

“look,” he said, “I’m over at this broad’s house today and

this guy walks in. a salesman. you know

how they talk. drove up in this new

car. talked about his vacation. said he went to

Frisco—saw Fidelio up there but forgot who

wrote it. now this guy is 54 years

old. so I told him: ‘Fidelio is Beethoven’s only

opera.’ and then I told

him: ‘you’re a jerk!’ ‘whatcha mean?’ he

asked. ‘I mean, you’re a jerk, you’re 54 years old and

you don’t know anything!’”

“what happened

then?”

“I walked out.”

“you mean you left him there with

her?”

“yes.”

“I can’t quit my job,” he said. “I always have trouble getting a

job. I walk in, they look at me, listen to me talk and

they think right away, ah ha! he’s too intelligent for

this job, he won’t stay

so there’s really no sense in hiring

him.

now, YOU walk into a place and you don’t have any trouble:

you look like an old wino, you look like a guy who needs a

job and they look at you and they think:

ah ha!: now here’s a guy who really needs work! if we hire

him he’ll stay a long time and work

HARD!”

“do any of those people,” he asks “know you are a

writer, that you write poetry?”

“no.”

“you never talk about

it. not even to

me! if I hadn’t seen you in that magazine I’d

have never known.”

“that’s right.”

“still, I’d like to tell these people that you are a

writer.”

“I’d still like to

tell them.”

“why?”

“well, they talk about you. they think you are just a

horseplayer and a drunk.”

“I am both of those.”

“well, they talk about you. you have odd ways. you travel alone.

I’m the only friend you

have.”

“yes.”

“they talk you down. I’d like to defend you. I’d like to tell

them you write

poetry.”

“leave it alone. I work here like they

do. we’re all the same.”

“well, I’d like to do it for myself then. I want them to know why

I travel with

you. I speak 7 languages, I know my music—”

“forget it.”

“all right, I’ll respect your

wishes. but there’s something else—”

“what?”

“I’ve been thinking about getting a

piano. but then I’ve been thinking about getting a

violin too but I can’t make up my

mind!”

“buy a piano.”

“you think

so?”

“yes.”

he walks away

thinking about

it.

I was thinking about it

too: I figure he can always come over with his

violin and more

sad music.

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