Friday, September 19, 2008

a radio with guts / a tv, a lamp; shoes and socks

"it was on the 2nd floor on Coronado Street
I used to get drunk
and throw the radio through the window
while it was playing, and, of course,
it would break the glass in the window
and the radio would sit there on the roof
still playing
and I'd tell my woman,
"Ah, what a marvelous radio!"
the next morning I'd take the window
off the hinges
and carry it down the street
to the glass man
who would put in another pane.
I kept throwing that radio through the window
each time I got drunk
and it would sit there on the roof
still playing-
a magic radio
a radio with guts,
and each morning I'd take the window
back to the glass man.
I don't remember how it ended exactly
though I do remember
we finally moved out.
there was a woman downstairs who worked in
the garden in her bathing suit,
she really dug with that trowel
and she put her behind up in the air
and I used to sit in the window
and watch the sun shine all over that thing
while the music played."

- A Radio With Guts, Charles Bukowski.

taking out the trash in san pedro.


While I think a radio

with guts
deserving of a purple heart,
or even a pirate
iPod which skips
and dies,
I could not dream of walking it
to the window.
Living a kind of life here
on the 22nd floor.

Even when drunk in charge
of a reception.

Have you seen the price of glass
lately ?
And who would pay the cost
of burying a passerby,
anyway ?

The drunk downstairs
threw his tv through the glass
one night.
Followed by the table,
a lamp,
his shoes and socks.

They were all still there below
by morning.
A tidy jumble embedded in
the courtyard.

Except for the socks.
One hanging on a tree growing
plastic bags,
the other on the fence.

I wanted to slit his belly.
That homicidal imbecile.

Those old farts
in their sunlit skid row apartments,
their bungalows,
listening to the sirens
playing under or over the radio,
and partaking of beer after beer,
really had it

A TV, A Lamp; Shoes And Socks, ib.

from "El Arte Del Sabor" CD (Blue Note) 2002 (Cuba)



Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I like this. The rest of Canada has the same sort of attitude towards us dopers on the west coast when their snowblowers burn out fron overuse in late winter. We get to spend our snow blower money on beer and seeds for next year's crop.

Unknown said...

is the full title "play the piano drunk, with your fists, until your finger begin to bleed a bit" or something like that?

at any hum, nice posting...

ib said...

Rub it in, Beer, rub it in.

The temperature has dropped significantly this past week. I am dwelling at the moment on just how unbearable another winter is going to be with leaking windows and no double glazing. The wood is rotten and crumbling and facing est as we do, we get the full force of the atlantic gales roaring up the river through the Clyde valley.

You can see the glass buckle. The curtains stand up at 90˚ like they are about to run.

ib said...


Is that aimed at Buk, me, or Bebo Valdes and Cachao ? All of it is similarly heavy-handed one way or another, so I'm kind of at a loss.

Glad you liked it though.

Your driver said...

I dunno Ib, one of the great influences in my life was a Mexican Indian named Manny (Manuel) He tried to drink himself to death, spent a lot of time in jail. Never learned to read or write and worked hard all of his life. He died a few years ago, sober and contented. Someone once asked if he, having lived a genuinely hard life, felt any resentment when he heard more fortunate people complain about their suffering. He answered, "No, everybody suffers the same."

ib said...

I'm glad you broached this, jon.

Manny was right, of course. I would be foolish to refute it. I was a bit concerned that people would interpret my riposte as an open criticism of Buk. See, I'd originally decided to post "A Radio With Guts" on it's own, because I love that poem.

Then I questioned myself in the light of how angry I was the night the asshole downstairs jettisoned his shit through the window. I was incensed.

The last paragraph of my reply is merely an admission of my envy of people living closer to the ground with no idiots packed in like sardines above them. Of course, if I lived in a bungalow I would find something else to bitch about.

I was questioning, too, my own motivation to applaud without thinking things through.

ib said...

Lest there be any doubt, I continue to believe Charles Bukowski the most honest and uncrippled writer I have had the pleasure to read.

ib said...

Clumsily put, but you know what I mean.