My son wore a blue tie to church today, and afterwards said that he can never wear a blue necktie without thinking of this poem by Charles Bukowski. It’s a favorite of mine too.
if we take—
if we take what we can see —
the engines driving us mad,
lovers finally hating;
this fish in the market
staring upward into our minds;
flowers rotting, flies web-caught;
riots, roars of caged lions,
clowns in love with dollar bills,
nations moving people like pawns;
daylight thieves with beautiful
nighttime wives and wines;
the crowded jails,
the commonplace unemployed,
dying grass, 2-bit fires;
men old enough to love the grave.
These things, and others, in content
show life swinging on a rotten axis.
But they’ve left us a bit of music
and a spiked show in the corner,
a jigger of scotch, a blue necktie,
a small volume of poems by Rimbaud,
a horse running as if the devil were
twisting his tail
over bluegrass and screaming, and then,
like a streetcar turning the corner
the city waiting,
the wine and the flowers,
the water walking across the lake
and summer and winter and summer and summer
and winter again.
— Charles Bukowski, in Mockingbird Wish Me Luck