Saturday, September 10, 2011

poem for a stand up guy, in beer

I could not listen
for the scraping retort.
the explosive Guffaw,

Ears burning,
pricked by stitching,

Even the word
Arousing raw heights
of inanity,
Spittled lips puckered
in rows, front and back,

The spotlight trained
tired, spotted flesh,
at the armpits,
Small beer, short shrift,

Arrivists in cashmere
Hanging on each word.

it is not the metal taste
of fear
which saws and stings -

the spoon,
the knife, the fork -

It is the copper ringing,
the dread
of the seasoned familiar,
The strings,
The posies,
The lantern jaw of the
wooden marionette in the
Shadow of a beard,
The singing of the crowd,
The flaccid chatter,

The monkey,
the organ, the grind.

I tossed out the above poem, listening to it rattle through my skull, between a supermarket trip and charging electricity to my key. Milo had been shrieking since 7 AM. There was no respite from his teething. Whingeing. He headbutted me twice, I think. He may have unplugged a tooth.

The last of the loosely presentable.

I was thinking on '
Hostage', recorded live at Redondo Beach in April, 1980; Jon's Trotskyite cronies in Echo Park, 1972, too consumed with politicking to peer over their noses long enough to register discomfit.

From a grandiose brownstone, to a pier on Venice Beach.

I don't know if you are familiar with '
Hostage'. It is all but insufferable. Charles Bukowski, it is alleged, detested public performance. The routine humiliation.

There is no sense in stepping in a prize stallion's shoes, it is remarked, unless one is prepared to break from the stalls at a gallop. Of course. Charles Bukowski studied form.

The odds, the skinny, shortfalls in rent.

Despite all this, he could not stomach the notion of pandering to the crowd. There is more joy, perhaps, in trudging pavements in the snow. I have tried that too. I have written of it in private correspondence.

Coming home from the night shift with one's arms three inches longer. Fingers torn and bloody from mail sacks fresh off the 3 AM flight. Falling straight into bed knowing Christmas is in the bag.

Well. The postman brings good news. A Trust here in Glasgow has agreed to finance a good part of my tuition fees. I am relieved. Ecstatic. That they have backed my horse before it is dragged off to the knacker's yard, that I have composed my mouth in one last gasp.

Allen Ginsberg famously courted the crowd. It was a good gig, while it lasted.

Such as it is, I am of a mind to visit a home recorded reading from New Orleans, Louisiana - of all places - from 1970, forty years and many ailing dogs ago.

Of course. I have not arrived. Not quite yet, I am not so addled, though the Merlot is back on the menu. The beer tucked away in our fridge.

It is a nod, to the living at least. As much a public nicety as I am capable of.

CHARLES BUKOWSKI: HAMMER AND LEASH from "King Of Poets" CD (Chinaski Records) 1997 (US / Germany)


Your driver said...

I heard Ginsberg read in Paterson, New Jersey, when I was 16. I heard Bukowski in San Francisco when I was about 21 or 22. Both gave great readings. Ginsberg, however, was polite. I wouldn't call it pandering. Buk was rude to the crowd. That part didn't impress me.

Your driver said...

Shit, I almost forgot to congratulate you. Take their money and make them regret it. But not till later. Much later.

@eloh said...

Wonderful news!! You have me in tears. I'll be an "I knew him when..."

Your poem took me back to my young teen years when my mother (who never learned not to complain) told my dad he spent so much time at the bar he should own it.... so he bought it... some of the early morning crowd were epic to say the least.

Ramone666 said...

Cheers Ib. I'm sure Buk would've been proud.

ib said...

Well. I would not denounce Ginsberg as the pandering sort either, although I stand by the observation that he was more keen to engage with an audience. He was a lot more comfortable, I think, undressing the body politic.

A lot of people saw Bukowski read. A lot more came in contact with Ginsberg.

Sadly, for all manner of reasons, I saw neither.

Bukowski could be quite drunkenly boorish, by all accounts. In performance not so much crippled by shyness, as outraged by the predictable flirting with disorder his appearances provoked.

On balance, I find the impoliteness of hecklers by far the more offensive.

That whooping it up at the merest imagined prompt always grabs my goat.

ib said...


I seldom venture into bars these days. The fact that one is only permitted to smoke outside, in the rain, is sufficient encouragement to keep my pockets buttoned down.

Your dad sounds like he was a pretty decent guy.


ib said...

Cheers, Wim.

Buk probably would not have have given much of a damn, but it's the thought that counts.

RossK said...


All this and a scholarship too...

There's gotta be a tune or two there somewhere.

Especially the head-butting part.


Holly said...

Congraulations ib, wonderful news!

I hope Milo is feeling better.