Poem: Charles Bukowski

By: Zola Gonzalez-Macarambon

Charles

Some guy I was dating casually
slipped you into the conversation
one time, we were drinking
yet again one night. The same
shirt, he was wearing, the same
one I complimented off-hand.
So maybe he really liked me.
Maybe he only had one t-shirt.
Maybe he only knows one kind of date
even. One which means drinking, and
walking around while the world whirred
and whirled past us at 4 in the morning,
looking for dark alleys for kissing breathlessly
or vomiting down drains. We would
sit in some curb or a bench in the plaza
smoking and holding hands and talking,
ceaseless talking about love and art,
life and light, how early sunshine softens
through glass and on the walls of a McDonalds
like Van Gogh stars. Anyway, he would
talk about you, Charles, and your
drinking, and your women,
and your poems. I was dirt-poor
substitute- teaching for next to nothing then,
and writing more than I was eating.
And he was trying to inspire me with your
yellow notebooks, and your gems
of gritty metaphors, and images
where dead goldfish smiles and blue birds avenge
and whore-women become the voice of reason
after some stanzas. But what I love most
about you, and your poems,
when I started reading you on my own,
was how you never rhymed but made your poems
sing and stick to memory like a new Taylor Swift song.
Or how you never turned on the light
between your lines but made sense
as clear as day. I still sing and see you
in every rat-infested floorboard
or public park bathed in early sun and
prickling with wild daisies, every yellow
notebook on the shelf of any bookstore,
every time I imagine to be someone else
younger and braver and wiser.

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