Tuesday, April 7, 2015
NPM: What Makes?
Yesterday I checked my inbox and found an email from my friend Amy in Maryland: You've put me much in mind, recently, of a favorite poem of mine from forever. It's Bukowski. I don't know if you love him or hate him, but this one makes me think of you.
Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
this is hard to explain, I mean who the man was,
anyhow, it was in a large structure and he sat in
a chair in uniform, red coat and all, his job was
to examine the hand-stamp of those who left the
structure and returned, there was a lamp you put
your hand under and the stamp appeared (god that
was work) anyhow, as I put my hand under the lamp
the man asked, "listen, what's your name?"
"Hank," I answered
"listen, Hank," he asked, "what makes a man a
"well," I said, "it's simple, it's either you
get it down on paper or you jump off a
writers are desperate people and when they stop
being desperate they stop being
"are you desperate?"
"I don't know..."
I walked on through and as I took the escalator up
I saw him sitting there, probably thinking that it was possibly
bullshit, he had wanted me to suggest some special
school, some special way, like some way to get out
of that red coat, it was not an enlightening job
like designing a bridge or batting cleanup for the
he wasn't desperate enough, the desperate don't ask,
and at the top of the escalator I pushed through the
glass doors and as I did, I thought, son of a bitch,
I should have asked him his name, and then I felt
bad for him and for myself but a few minutes later
I had forgotten all about him
and the other way around
and he watched more hand-stamps under the lamp
and I watched the toteboard and the horses and
the desperate people
desperate in all the wrong