A View from the Quarter, March 12th, 1965


we are in a terrible hurry to die
as large Negroes break the
our fingers tremble on dark
coffee cups
as this city
all the cities
lie spread-legged
dipped into with
I awaken to pull a shade
I awaken to black men and
white men and no
they rape everything
they walk into churches and
churches bum down
they pet dogs and dogs heave
yellow saliva and

they buy paintings that they
don’t understand
they buy women that they
don’t understand
they buy everything and
what they can’t buy
they kill

their women approach me
they wiggle in the sacrament of
their flesh
they sway before me upon the towers
of their high-heels
the whole sum of them wanting
to make me scream
in some idiot’s glory
but I look again
and I know that they are
that it is useless
and I cross the street
to buy a loaf of

at night
the sweetest sound I hear is
the dripping of the
or some unemployed Jazzman
practicing his runs—
a wail of martyrdom to an

we only pretend to live
while we wait on something
we wait on something
and look at diamond wrist watches
through plate glass windows
as a spider sucks the guts out of a
we pay homage to Marshal Foch’s
granddaughter bending over a
tub of laundry,
we walk down St. Peter St.
hoping to find a
dime in the gutter

the dogs know us
the dogs know us
the Jazzman sends it home to
me through the blue glass of a
4 p.m. Friday

he wants me to know how he
as feet run over my
as the dead men suck in
as the dead men machinegun the
and in moments of rest
pray and drink
good scotch

I have watched the artists
rotting in their chairs
while the tourists took pictures
of an old iron railing not yet made
into guns

I have seen you, New Orleans,
I have seen you, New York,
Miami, Philly, Frisco, St. Louie,
L.A., Dago, Houston, and
most of the rest. I have
seen nothing, your best men are
drunks and your worst men are
locking them
your best men are killers and
your worst men are
selling them

your best men die in alleys
under a sheet of paper
while your worst men
get statues in parks
for pigeons to shit upon for

the Jazzman stops. My god, it’s
quiet, that’s all I can say now!
it’s quiet, it’s quiet, let me think
if I feel like thinking and if
I don’t, mama, let me not think.

4:26 p.m.
the Quarter

I look down on the floor—
a beer carton
busted open and empty

“Don’t litter!
Keep America

and like the Jazzman:
don’t wanta think
no more.

Charles Bukowski,
from Betting on the Muse



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