Drunken Laundry Day with Charles Bukowski

A winner of the 2011 Downtown Eastside Writers' Jamboree Writing Contest.

It takes a six-pack just for him to
get it together
In that dirty underground room of his
His radio
is cracked
“London’s calling”
He gets that mess together into a pile
Condemned rags,
he thinks, and cracks another beer
With a pillow case and a box of soap
he heads out
with that beer-stained Bukowski book
of poems
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses
His rooming house is in the DTES
The laundromat is around the corner
The cashier just on his left
The rat, tat, tat of a sewing machine
behind the counter
Heads for the back
Chairs, tables, scattered newspapers,
He stuffs his stinky rags into a washer
He stays and reads Bukowski
Puts his workman rags into the dryer
Sinks enough quarters in for an hour
and heads for that closest bar
“I’ll have two of your cheapest draft”
he says to the young bartender
He puts Bukowski’s book down
to get at a twenty-dollar bill
“I think Mr. Bukowski would approve”
the bartender says
“I’ve read his shit in college, a lot of us have, dude”
He heads for that dirty-fish-bowl smoking room
Thinks, all right—college students
still read Bukowski
After the third round and another poem
“Song of my typewriter”
He heads back in sunglasses
Through a gauntlet of drug addicts
Curled up in dirty street blankets
Syringes scattered with garbage everywhere
Skinny hardened rat-faced drug addicts
Committing suicide slowly
He stops as this twenty-year-old kid jumps
in front of him
wrapped in a blanket
holding a garbage bag suitcase
Thin, tall, shaggy long blond hair, blue eyes
a sculpted bronze sunken pimpled face
Wondering if he’s that fallen angel
He looks at him from head to bare dirty feet
“Do you want to buy some crack?”
“No, my life is hard enough kid,
I don’t have to make it any harder man”
Sstumbles into the laundromat
feeling like he just escaped a bunch
of zombies
The place is full
With the extinct middle class
Watches them as they slowly turn into fossils
Feels more pity for them
Than the ones that are outside
committing suicide
He opens the dryer door
“Jesus Christ, hot as hell”
he says out loud
Bangs his head
Curses in silence
Then hears a little voice
“Mommy, there’s another man arguing with God again”
He turns around, takes off his sunglasses
A little girl with sun-kissed freckles smiles
As she sits there, on the table
Her mother continues folding their clothes
With a smile she says
“Let the man be, Sara”
“My laundry is really hot”
he says, in his own mad defiance
Stuffs his rags into his pillow case
Thinks only of that other warm six-pack
Says goodbye to the little girl and her mother
Apologizes to them and God
He heads back to that dirty little underground
To drink and read
Bukowski’s drunken knowledge




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