Charles Bukowski

Something For The Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks, And You

We have everything and we have nothing, and some men do it in churches and some men do it by tearing butterflies in half, and some men do it in Palm Springs laying it into butterblondes with Cadillac souls. Cadillacs and butterflies, nothing and everything, the face melting down to the last puff in a cellar in Corpus Christi. There's something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery clerks and you... something at 8 a.m., something in the library, something in the river, everything and nothing. In the slaughterhouse it comes running along the ceiling on a hook, and you swing it -- one, two, three -- and then you've got it, $200 worth of dead meat, its bones against your bones, something and nothing. It's always early enough to die and it's always too late, and the drill of blood in the basin white it tells you nothing at all and the gravediggers playing poker over 5 a.m. coffee, waiting for the grass to dismiss the frost... They tell you nothing at all. We have everything and we have nothing, days with glass edges and the impossible stink of river moss -- worse than shit; checkerboard days of moves and countermoves, fagged interest, with as much sense in defeat as in victory; Slow days like mules humping it slagged and sullen and sun-glazed up a road where a madman sits waiting among bluejays and wrens netted in and sucked a flakey grey. Good days too of wine and shouting, fights in alleys, fat legs of women striving around your bowels buried in moans, the signs in bullrings like diamonds hollering "Mother Capri," violets coming out of the ground telling you to forget the dead armies and the loves that robbed you. Days when children say funny and brilliant things like savages trying to send you a message through their bodies while their bodies are still alive enough to transmit and feel and run up and down without locks and paychecks and ideals and possessions and beetle-like opinions. Days when you can cry all day long in a green room with the door locked, days when you can laugh at the breadman because his legs are too long, days of looking at hedges... and nothing, and nothing, the days of the bosses, yellow men with bad breath and big feet, men who look like frogs, hyenas, men who walk as if melody had never been invented, men who think it is intelligent to hire and fire and profit, men with expensive wives they possess like 60 acres of ground to be drilled or shown-off or to be walled away from the incompetent, men who'd kill you because they're crazy and justify it because it's the law, men who stand in front of windows 30 feet wide and see nothing, men with luxury yachts who can sail around the world and yet never get out of their vest pockets, men like snails, men like eels, men like slugs, and not as good... and nothing, getting your last paycheck at a harbor, at a factory, at a hospital, at an aircraft plant, at a penny arcade, at a barbershop, at a job you didn't want anyway. Income tax, sickness, servility, broken arms, broken heads -- all the stuffing come out like an old pillow. We have everything and we have nothing. Some do it well enough for a while and then give way. Fame gets them or disgust or age or lack of proper diet or ink across the eyes or children in college or new cars or broken backs while skiing in Switzerland or new politics or new wives or just natural change and decay -- the man you knew yesterday hooking for ten rounds or drinking for three days and three nights by the Sawtooth mountains now just something under a sheet or a cross or a stone or under an easy delusion, or packing a bible or a golf bag or a briefcase: how they go, how they go! -- all the ones you thought would never go. Days like this. Like your day today. Maybe the rain on the window trying to get through to you. What do you see today? What is it? Where are you? The best days are sometimes the first, sometimes the middle and even sometimes the last. The vacant lots are not bad, churches in Europe on postcards are not bad. People in wax museums frozen into their best sterility are not bad, horrible but not bad. The cannon, think of the cannon, and toast for breakfast the coffee hot enough you know your tongue is still there, three geraniums outside a window, trying to be red and trying to be pink and trying to be geraniums, no wonder sometimes the women cry, no wonder the mules don't want to go up the hill. Are you in a hotel room in Detroit looking for a cigarette? One more good day. A little bit of it. And as you get older you'll keep looking, keep looking, sucking your tongue in a little. Ah ah no no maybe. Some do it naturally, some obscenely, everywhere.

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