“An Al­most Made Up Po­em”- By Charles Bukowski

I see you drink­ing at a foun­tain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the foun­tain is in France
where you wrote me that last let­ter and
I an­swered and nev­er heard from you again.
you used to write in­sane po­ems about
AN­GELS AND GOD, all in up­per case, and you
knew fa­mous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’ all right,
go ahead, en­ter their lives, I’ not jeal­ous
be­cause we’ nev­er met. we got close once in
New Or­leans, one half block, but nev­er met, nev­er
touched. so you went with the fa­mous and wrote
about the fa­mous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the fa­mous are wor­ried about
their fame –– not the beau­ti­ful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awak­ens
in the morn­ing to write up­per case po­ems about
AN­GELS AND GOD. we know God is dead, they’ told
us, but lis­ten­ing to you I wasn’ sure. maybe
it was the up­per case. you were one of the
best fe­male po­ets and I told the pub­lish­ers,
ed­i­tors, “ her, print her, she’ mad but she’
mag­ic. there’ no lie in her fire.” I loved you
like a man loves a wom­an he nev­er touch­es, on­ly
writes to, keeps lit­tle pho­to­graphs of. I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cig­a­rette and lis­tened to you piss in the bath­room,
but that didn’ hap­pen. your let­ters got sad­der.
your lovers be­trayed you. kid, I wrote back, all
lovers be­tray. it didn’ help. you said
you had a cry­ing bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a riv­er and you sat on the cry­ing
bench ev­ery night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and for­got­ten you. I wrote back but nev­er
heard again. a friend wrote me of your sui­cide
3 or 4 months af­ter it hap­pened. if I had met you
I would prob­a­bly have been un­fair to you or you
to me. it was best like this.
Charles Bukows­ki

 
I like this  po­em  for the stark  sim­plic­i­ty of the theme .Bukows­ki,  a  po­et of the low life ,as he is called ,tries to un­der­stand a fel­low po­et, a wom­an, whom he had nev­er touched but on­ly writ­ten to. Do we find sar­casm here? I do not think so be­cause she is to be judged not as a wom­an to make love to but as a po­et , who writes about an­gels and gods in up­per case let­ters. But the oth­ers who judged her were the ones who made love to her but cared more for their fame and left her , sit­ting on the cry­ing bench near the bridge as a riv­er flowed un­der it.
But Bukows­ki would have loved her more ,if on­ly he had sat in his room hear­ing her piss sound in the bath room .But that was not to be.He on­ly knows her in her con­fes­sion­al let­ters and in her po­ems about an­gels and gods, all in up­per case. She had gone to Paris to drink from the foun­tain of life there with her blue hands.But the fame of her fa­mous friends did not rub on her one bit. Nor their love and com­mit­ment . They have all for­got­ten her in the“ flush” of their own fame. Fi­nal­ly ,she had com­mit­ted sui­cide. It was best like this .Had Bukows­ki met her i.e. had ev­er heard her piss sound in his bath­room ,he would have had to bear the blame for be­ing un­fair to her like the oth­er fa­mous peo­ple who had loved and left her. This way , no hard feel­ings be­tween them.
I on­ly won­der what the po­et is try­ing to say about the po­et friend. About her po­et­ic prow­ess he is clear­ly try­ing to be sar­cas­tic(“an­gels and gods”, “up­per case”). But he ad­mits there was no lie in her fire.Ev­ery­thing she said had the ring of sin­cer­i­ty.She has struck up friend­ship with fa­mous peo­ple and be­ing in their cir­cle or drink­ing from the foun­tain of beau­ty in Paris hadn’t helped her one bit .Many of them had heard her piss sound in their bath­rooms but not one of them had re­turned her love. This is her tragedy.
We do not see Bukowsky drop­ping his guard even once in the po­em to be mushy about the wom­an po­et who could have been in­volved with him. He has no re­grets and is thank­ing his stars that such was the case. Oth­er­wise he would have had to car­ry a guilt com­plex about her and she about him.
The po­em may not be re­al. It is al­most a“ made up”po­em. Per­haps the po­et is speak­ing from his own per­ceived su­pe­ri­or­i­ty. A bru­tal way of as­sert­ing male su­pe­ri­or­i­ty over a wom­an whose po­et­ry is den­i­grat­ed as on­ly about an­gels and gods and whose on­ly claim to fame is through li­aisons with the fa­mous. Imag­ine his own po­ems are in low­er case, a fact which does not give him any edge over the wom­an po­et who us­es the up­per case. This way the po­em is al­most made up and may not be ap­prox­i­mat­ing to the truth of the sit­u­a­tion. A faint self-mor­ti­fi­ca­tion by the po­et can be felt in the words : an al­most made up po­em.

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