Young in New Orleans by Charles Bukowski

licensed f11 photo

Young in New Orleans
by Charles Bukowski

starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for hours,
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, maybe it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the
world.
New Orleans was a place to
hide.
I could piss away my life,
unmolested.
except for the rats.
the rats in my small dark room
very much resented sharing it
with me.
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
that spoke
an unblinking
death.
women were beyond me.
they saw something
depraved.
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
brought my
coffee.
that was plenty for
me, that was
enough.
there was something about
that city, though:
it didn’t let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
needed.
it let me alone.
sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
sounds,
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape
enter
me
as I heard the rats
moving about the
room,
I preferred them
to
humans.
being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way:
undisturbed.
New Orleans gave me
that.
nobody ever called
my name.
no telephone,
no car,
no job,
no anything.
me and the
rats
and my youth,
one time,
that time
I knew
even through the
nothingness,
it was a
celebration
of something not to
do
but only
know.

PHOTO: French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, by F11 Photo, used by permission. 

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