Time for another Bukowski poem
the smoking car
they stop out front here
it looks as if the car is on fire
the smoke blazes blue from the hood and exhaust
the motor sounds like cannon shots
the car humps wildly
one guy gets out,
Jesus, he says, he takes a long drink from a
canvas water bag
and gives the car an eerie look.
the other guy gets out and looks at the car,
Jesus, he says,
and he takes a drink from a pint of whiskey,
then passes the bottle to his
they both stand and look at the car,
one holding the whiskey, the other the water bag.
they are not dressed in conventional hippie garb
but in natural old clothes
faded, dirty and torn.
a butterfly goes past my window
and they get back in the
and it bucks off in low
like a rodeo bronc
they are both laughing
and one has the bottle
the butterfly is gone
and outside there is a globe of smoke
40 feet in circumference.
first human beings I’ve seen in Los Angeles
in 15 years.
— Charles Bukowski, in Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
If I read this in a Lit Crit class, I’d be asked, (1) What’s with the butterfly? and (2) What’s with the “eerie look”?
So I’m glad that I’m not in any Lit Crit classes.