On Bukowski’s Birthday 2013

by Paul Mathers

“As I wipe the smear of dung from my bunghole,

the world waltzes to the music of the spheres”

is how he reads to me now

And I don’t read because he recalls

so many of my friends who bought what he and his peers sold

and ended up cadaverous,

his words like the Dead Letter Office of my youth,

Now in an age when the post office itself is near archaic.

In truth he was listening to the crumbling of Valhalla

in a transient hotel room,

deceptively heroic in the metropolis of angels

on the cusp of the breakdown of the millenium.

It is Bukowski’s birthday.

His tombstone reads,

“I stole the voice of a hundred thousand modern poets

and replaced it with my own, unshakable.”

I, on his birthday, go to low-pay work, come home, drink red wine, and write.

I repeat, “I am nothing like him”

over and over, just like he said,

“Do not romanticize me” with wicked bedroom eyes.

He told us we would never make it,

that no one ever makes it,

from his comfort of having made it,

and we thought he was us,

and we fell backwards into his corpse arms.

And really his tombstone is now blank.

People pass around the inscription like secret knowledge.

As if it wasn’t available in any major bookstore.