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.
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.