Charles Bukowski: ‘The Race’

the race

by Charles Bukowski

1            it is like this

2            when you slip down,

3            done like a wound-up victrola

4            (you remember those?)

5            and you go downtown

6            and watch the boys punch

7            but the big blondes sit with

8            someone else

9            and you’ve aged like a punk in a movie:

10          cigar in skull, fat gut,

11          but only no money,

12          no wiseness of way, no worldliness,

13          but as usual

14          most of the fights are bad,

15          and afterwards

16          back in the parking lot

17          you sit and watch them go,

18          light the last cigar,

19          and then start the old car,

20          old car, not so young man

21          going down the street

22          stopped by a red light

23          as if time were no problem,

24          and they come up to you:

25          a car full of young,

26          laughing,

27          and you watch them go

28          until

29          somebody behind you honks

30          and you are shaken back

31          into what is left

32          of your life.

33          pitiful, self-pity,

34          and your foot is to the floor

35          and you catch the young ones,

36          you pass the young ones

37          and holding the wheel like all love gone

38          you race to the beach

39          with them

40          brandishing your cigar and your steel,

41          laughing,

42          you will take them to the ocean

43          to the last mermaid,

44          seaweed and shark, merry whale,

45          end of flesh and hour and horror,

46          and finally they stop

47          and you go on

48          toward your ocean,

49          the cigar biting your lips

50          the way love used to.


Image Credit: B. Anderson


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