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     8/28/91 11:28 PM
     Good day at the track, damn near swept the card.
     Yet it gets boring out there, even when you're winning. It's the minute
wait  between races, your life leaking out into space. The people look  gray
out  there, walked through. And I'm there with them. But where else could  I
go?  An  Art Museum? Imagine staying home all day and playing at  writer?  I
could  wear a little scarf. I remember this poet who used to come by on  the
bum.  Buttons  off  his shirt, puke on his pants, hair  in  eyes,  shoelaces
undone,  but he had this long scarf which he kept very clean. That  signaled
he was a poet. His writing? Well, forget it...
      Came in, swam in the pool, then went to the spa. My soul is in danger.
Always has been.
      Was  sitting on the couch with Linda, the good dark night  descending,
when there was a knock on the door. Linda got it.
     "Better come here, Hank..."
      I  walked  to the door, barefooted, in my robe. A young blond  guy,  a
young fat girl and a medium sized girl.
     "They want your autograph..."
     "I don't see people," I told them.
      "We  just  want your autograph," said the blond guy, "then we  promise
never to come back."
     Then he started giggling, and holding his head. The girls just stared.
     "But none of you have a pen or even a piece of paper I said.
      "Oh," said the blond kid, taking his hands from his head, "We'll  come
back again with a book! Myabe at a more proper time..."
      Tha  bathrobe.  The bare feet. Maybe the kid thought i was  eccentric.
Maybe I was.
     "Don't come in the morning," I told them.
     I saw them begin to walk off and I closed the door...
     Now I'm up here writing about them. You've got to be a little hard with
them or they'll swarm you. I've had some horrible expreriences blocking that
door.  So  many of them think that somehow you'll invite them in  and  drink
with  them all night. I prefer to drink alone. A writer owes nothing  except
to his writing. He owes nothing to the reader except the availability of the
printed  page.  And  worse, many of the doorknockers are not  even  readers.
They've  just heard something. The reader and the best human is the one  who
rewards me with his or her absence.

     8/29/91 10:55 PM
      Slow  at  the track today, my damned life dangling on the hook.  I  am
there  every  day. I don't see anybody else out there every day  except  the
employees.  I probably have some malady. Saroyan lost his ass at the  track,
Fante at poker, Dostoevsky at the weel. And it's really not a matter of  the
money  unless  you run out of it. I had a gambler friend once who  said,  "I
don't care if I win or lose, I just want to gamble." I have more respect for
the  money. I've had very little of it most of my life. I know what  a  park
bench  is,  and the landlord's knock. There are only two things  wrong  with
money: too much or too little.
      I  suppose  there's  always something out there  we  want  to  torment
ourselves  with. And at the track you get the feel of the other people,  the
desperate  darkness,  and how easy they toss it in and quit.  The  racetrack
crowd  is  the world brought down to size, life grinding against  death  and
losing. Nobody wins finally, we are just seeking a reprieve, a moment out of
the glare. (shit, the lighted end of my cigarette just hit one of my fingers
as  I was musing on this purposelessness. That woke me up, brought me out of
this  Sartre state!) Hell, we need humor, we need to laugh. I used to  laugh
more,  I  used  to do everything more, except write. Now, I am  writing  and
writing  and writing, the older I get the more I write, dancing with  death.
Good  show.  And  I  think  the stuff is all right.  One  day  they'll  say,
"Bukowski  is  dead,"  and  then I will be truly discovered  and  hung  from
stinking  bright lampposts. So what? Immortality is the stupid invention  of
the  living.  You  see what the racetracks does? It makes  the  lines  roll.
Lightning  and luck. The last bluebird singing. Anything I say  sounds  fine
because  I  gamble when I write. Too many are too careful. They study,  they
teach and they fail. Convention strips them of their fire.
      I feel better now, up here on this second floor with the Macintosh. My
pal.
      And  Mahler  is  on the radio, he glides with such  ease,  taking  big
chances,  one  needs that sometimes. Then he sends in the long power  rises.
Thank you, Mahler, I borrow from you and can never pay you back.
      I smoke too much, I drink too much but I can't write too much, it just
keeps  coming  and  I  call for more and it arrives and mixes  with  Mahler.
Sometimes I deliberately stop myself. I say, wait a moment, go to  sleep  or
look at your 9 cats or sit with your wife on the couch. You're either at the
track  or  with the Macintosh. And then I stop, put on the brakes, park  the
damned  thing. Some people have written that my writing has helped  them  go
on. It has helped me too. The writing, the roses, the 9 cats.
     There's a small balcony here, the door is open and I can see the lights
of  the  cars  on the Harbor Freeway south, they never stop,  that  roll  of
lights,  on  and on. All those people. What are they doing?  What  are  they
thinking?  We're  all  going to die, all of us, what a  circus!  That  alone
should  make  us  love  each other but it doesn't.  We  are  terrorized  and
flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.
      Keep it going, Mahler! You've made this a wonderous night. Don't stop,
you son-of-a-bitch! Don't stop!

     9/11/91 1:20 AM
      I should cut my toenails. My feet have been hurting me for a couple of
weeks.  I  know it's the toenails yet I can't find time to cut  them.  I  am
always  fighting for the minute, I have time for nothing. Of  course,  if  I
could stay away from the racetrack I would have plenty of time. But my whole
life has been a matter of fighting for one simple hour to do what I want  to
do. There was always something getting in the way of my getting to myself.
      I  should make a giant effort to cut my toenails tonight. Yes, I  know
there  are people dying of cancer, there are people sleeping in the  streets
in  cardboard  boxes  and I babble about cutting my toenails.  Still,  I  am
probably closer to reality than some slug who watches 162 baseball  games  a
year.  I've been in my hell, I'm still in my hell, don't feel superior.  The
fact that I am alive and 71 years old and babbling about my toenails, that's
miracle enough for me.
     I've been reading the philosophers. They are really strange, funny wild
guys,  gamblers.  Descartes came along and saind, there  fellows  have  been
talking  pure  crap. He said that mathematics was model for  absolute  self-
evident  truth.  Mechanism. Then Hume came along  with  his  attack  on  the
validity of scientific causal knowledge. And then came Kierkegaard: "I stick
my  finger  into existence -- it smells of nothing. Where am  I?"  And  then
along  came Sartre who claimed that existence was absurd. I love there boys.
They  rock the world. Didn't they headaches thinking that way? Didn't a rush
of  blackness  roar between their teeth? When you take men  like  these  and
stack them againts the men I see walking along the street or eating in cafes
or appearing at tv screen the difference is so great that something wrenches
inside of me, kicking me in the gut.
      I  probably won't do the toenails tonight. I'm not crazy but  I'm  not
sane  either. No, maybe I'm crazy. Anyway, today, when daylight comes and  2
p.m.  arrives it ill be the first race of the last day of racing at Del Mar.
I  played  every  day, every race. I think I'll sleep now,  my  razor  nails
slashing at the good sheets. Good night.

     9/12/91 11:19 PM
      No  horses today. I feel strangely normal. I know why Hemingway needed
the  bullfights, it framed the picture for him, it reminded him of where  it
was  and  what  it was. Sometimes we forget, paying gas bills,  getting  oil
changes, etc. Most people are not ready for death, theirs or anybody else's.
It  shocks them, terrifies them. It's like a great surprise. Hell, it should
never be. I carry death in my left pocket. Sometimes I take it out and  talk
to it: "Hello, baby, how you doing? When you coming for me? I'll be ready."
      There's  nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to  mourn
about  the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the  lives
people  live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their  own
lives,  they  piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb  fuckers.  They
concentrate  too  much  on fucking, movies, money,  family,  fucking.  Their
mindes  are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they  swallow
country  without  thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they  let  others
think  for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly,  they
talk  ugly,  they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries  and
they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. Thare's nothing left to
die.
      You  see, I need the horses, I lose my sense of humor. One thing death
can't stand is for you to laugh at it. Trues laughter knocks the logest odds
right  on thir ass. I haven't laughed for 3 or 4 weeks. Something is  eating
me alive. I scratch myself, twist, look about, trying to find it. The Hunter
is clever. Your can't see him. Or her.
      This  computer must go back into the shop. Won't bless  you  with  the
details.  Some  day  I  will know more about computers  than  the  computers
themselves. But right now this machine has me by the balls.
      There  are  two editors I know who take great offense at computers.  I
have  these  two  letters and they rail against the  computer.  I  was  very
surprised  about the bitterness in the letters. And the childishness.  I  am
aware that the computer can't do the writing for me. If it could, I wouldn't
want  it.  They  both just went on too long. The inference  being  that  the
computer  wasn't  good  for the soul. Well, few  things  are.  But  I'm  for
convenience, if I can write twice as much and the quality remains the  same,
then  I prefer the computer. Writing is when I fly, writing is when I  start
fires. Writing is when I take death out of my left pocket, throw him against
the wall and catch him as he bounces back.
      These  guys  think you always have to be on the cross and bleeding  in
order to have soul. They want you half mad, dribbling down your shirt front.
I've had enough of the cross, my tak is full of that. If I can stay off  the
cross,  I still have plenty to run on. Too much. Let them get on the  cross,
I'll congratulate them. But pain doesn't create writing, a writer does.
      Anyway, back into the shop with this and when these two editors see my
work  typewritten again they'll think, ah, Bukowski has his soul back.  This
stuff reads much better.
      Ah,  well, what would we do without our editors. Or better  yet,  what
would they do without us?

     9/13/91 5:25 PM
      The  track  is closed. There is no inter-track wagering  with  Pomona,
damned if I'm going to make that damned hot drive. I'll probably end up with
night racing at Los Alamitos. The computer is out of the shop once more  but
it no longer corrects my spelling. I've hacked at this machine trying to dig
it out. Will probably have to phone the shop will ask the fellow, "What do I
do  now?" And he will say something like, "You have to transfer it from your
main  disk to your hard disk." I'll probably end up erasing everything.  The
typewriter sits behind me and says, "Look, I'm still here."
      There are night when this room is the only place want to be. Yet I get
up  here and I'm an empty husk. I know I could raise hell and dance words on
this  screen  if  I got drunk but I have to pick up Linda's  sister  at  the
airport tomorrow afternoon. She's coming for a visit. She's changed her name
from Robin to Jharra. As women get older, they change their names. Many  do,
I mean. Suppose a man did that? Can you see me phoning somebody:
     "Hey, Mike, this is Tulip."
     "Who?"
      "Tulip.  Formerly Charles, but now Tulip. I will no longer  answer  to
Charles."
     "Fuck you, Tulip."
     Mike hangs up...
      Getting  old  is  very odd. The main thing is that you  have  to  keep
telling  yourself, I'm old, I'm old. You see yourself in the mirror  as  you
descend the escalator but you don't look directly at the mirror, you give  a
little  side  glance,  a  wary smile. You don't  look  that  bad,  you  look
something like a drusty candle. Too bad, screw the gods, screw the game. You
should  have  been dead 35 years ago. This is a little extra  scenery,  more
peeks  at the horror show. The older a writer is the better he should write,
he's  seen  more, endured more, he's closer to death. The page,  that  white
page,  8 and 1/2 by 11. The gamble remains. Then you always remember a thing
or  two one of the other boys have said. Jeffers: "Be angry at the sun." All
too  wonderful. Or Sartre: "Hell is other peopple." Right on and through the
target. I'm never alone. The best thing is to be alone but not quite alone.
      To  my  right,  the radio works hard bringing me more great  classical
music.  I listen to 3 or 4 hours of this a night as I am doing other things,
or nothing. It's my drug, it washes the crap of the day right out of me. The
classical composers can do this for me. The poets, the novelists, the  short
story  writes  can't.  A gang of fakes. What is it?  Writers  are  the  most
difficult  to take, on the page or in person. And they are worse  in  person
than on the page and that's pretty bad. Why do we say "pretty bad"? Why  not
"ugly  bad"? Well, writers are pretty bad and ugly bad. And we love to bitch
about one another. Look at me.
      About  writing, I write basically the same way now as I did  50  years
ago, maybe a little better but not much. Why did I have to reach the age  of
51 I could pay the rent with my writing? I mean, if I'm right and my writing
is  no  different, what took so long? Did I have to wait for  the  world  to
catch  up with me? And now, if it has, where am I now? In bad shape,  that's
what.  But  I don't think I've gotten the fat head from any luck  that  I've
had.  Does a fathead ever realize that he's one? But I'm far from contented.
Something  is in me that I can't control. I can never drive my  car  over  a
bridge  without thinking of suicide. I can never look at a lake or an  ocean
without  thinking of suicide. I mean, I won't linger on it all. But it  will
flash on me: SUICIDE. Like a light going on. In the darkness. That there  is
an  out helps you stay in. Get it? Otherwise, it could only be madness.  And
that's  no  fun,  buddy. And whenever I get off a good poem, that's  another
crutch  to keep me going. I don't know about other people, but when  I  bend
over  to  put  on  my shoes in the morning, I think, Christ- oh-mighty,  now
what?  I'm screwed by life, we don't get along. I have to takй little  bites
out  of it, not the whole thing. It's like swallowing buckets of shit. I  am
never  surprised that the madhouses and jails are full and that the  streets
are  full. I like to look at my cats, they chill me out. They make  me  feel
all  right. Don't put me in a roomful of humans, though. Don't ever do that.
Especially on a holiday. Don't do it.
     I heard they found my first wife dead in India and nobody in her family
wanted  the  body.  poor girl. She had a crippled neck that  couldn't  turn.
Other  than that she was perfectly beautiful. She divorced me and she should
have. I wasn't kind enough or big enough to save her.

     9/21/91 9:27 PM
      Went  to  a movie premiere last night. Red carpet. Flash bulbs.  Party
afterwards. Didn't hear much said. Too crowded. Too hot. First party  I  got
cornered at the bar by a young guy with very round eyes who never blinked. I
don't  know what he was on. Or off. Quite a few people like that about.  The
young  guy had 3 rather nice looking ladies with him and he kept telling  me
how they liked to suck cock. The ladies just smiled and said, "Oh, yes!" And
the whole conversation went on like that. On and on like that. I kept trying
to figure out whether it was true or whether I was being put on. But after a
while  I  just  got  weary of it. But the young guy just kept  pressing  me,
talking  on  about how the girls liked to suck cock. His face  kept  getting
closer and he kept on and on. Finally, I reached out and grabbed him by  his
shirt front, hard, and held like that and I said, "Listen, it wouldn't  look
good  if  a 71-year- old guy beat the shit out of you in front of all  these
people, would it?" Then I let go of him. He walked around the other  end  of
bar, followed by his ladies. Damned if I could make any sense out of it.
      I guess I'm too used to sitting in a small room and making words do  a
few  things.  I  see enough of humanity at the racetracks, the supermarkets,
gas  stations, freeways, cafes, etc. This can't be helped. But I  feel  like
kicking  myself in the ass when I go to gatherings, even if the  drinks  are
free. It never works for me. I've got enough clay to play with. People empty
me.  I  have  to  get away to refill. I'm what's best for me,  sitting  here
slouched,  smoking a beedie and watching this creen flash the words.  Seldom
do  you  meet a rare or interesting person. It's more than galling,  it's  a
fucking  constant shock. It's making a god-damned grouch out of me.  Anybody
can be a god-damned grouch and most are. Help!
      I  just need a good night's sleep. But first, never a damned thing  to
read.  After you've read a certain amount of decent literature,  there  just
isn't any more. We have to write it ourselves. There's no juice in the  air.
But  I  expect to wake up in the morning. And the morning I don't,  fine.  I
won't  need any more window screeens, razor blades, Racing Forms or message-
taking  machines. The phone rings mostly for my wife, anyhow. The  Bells  do
not Toll for Me.
      Sleep,  sleep. I sleep on my stomach. Old habit. I've lived  with  too
many crazy women. Got to protect the privates. Too bad that young guy didn't
challenge  me.  I  was  in  a mood to kick ass. Would  have  cheered  me  up
immensely. Good night.

     9/25/91 12:28 AM
      Hot stupid night, the cats are miserable, caught in all that fur, they
look  at  me  and I can't do anything. Linda off to a couple of places.  She
needs  things to do, people to talk to. It's all right with me but she tends
to  drink and must drive home. I'm not good company, talking is not my  idea
of  anything at all. I don't want to exchange ideas -- or souls. I'm just  a
block of stone unto myself. I want to stay within that block, unmolested. It
was  that  way  from the beginning. I resisted my parents, then  I  resisted
school, then I resisted becoming a decent citizen. It's like whatever I was,
was  there from the beginning. I didn't want anybody tinkering with that.  I
still don't.
      I  think that people who keep notebooks and jot down their thougts are
jerk-offs. I am only doing this because somebody suggested I do it,  so  you
see, I'm not even an original jerk- off. But this somehow makes it easier. I
just let it roll. Like a hot turd down a hill.
      I  don't know what to do about the racetrack. I think it's burning out
for  me. I was standing around at Hollywood Park today, inter-track betting,
13  races from Fairplex Park. After the 7th race I am $72 ahead. So? Will it
take  some  of those white hairs out of my eyebrows? Will it make and  opera
singer  out  of  me?  What do I want? I am beating a difficult  game,  I  am
beating  an  18 take. I do that quite a bit. I do that quite a bit.  So,  it
mustn't  be too difficult. What do I want? I really don't care if  there  is
God  or  not.  It  doesn't interest me. So, what the hell  is  it  about  18
percent?
      I  look over and see the same guy talking. He stands in the same  spot
every  day talking to this person or that or to a couple of people. He holds
the Form and talks about the horses. How dreary! What am I doing here?
     I leave. I walk down to parking, get in my car and drive off. It's only
4  p.m.  How nice. I drive along. Others drive along. We are snails crawling
on a leaf.
      Then  I  get into the driveway, park, get out. There's a message  from
Linda  taped to the phone. I check the mail. Gas bill. And a large  envelope
full  of poems. All printed on separate pieces of paper. Women talking about
their  periods,  about  their tits and breasts  and  about  getting  fucked.
Utterly dull. I dump it in the trash.
      The I take a dump. Feel better. Take off my clothes and step into  the
pool.  Ice  water. But great. I walk along toward the deep end of the  pool,
the  water rising inch by inch, chilling me. Then I plunge below the  water.
It's restful. The world doesn't know where I am. I come up, swim to the  far
edge, find the ledge, sit there. It must be about the 9th or 10th race.  The
horses  are stil running. I plunge of my age hanging onto me like  a  leech.
Still,  it's o.k. I should have been dead 40 years ago. I rise to  the  top,
swim to the far edge, get out.
      That was a long time ago. I'm up here now with the Macintosh IIsi. And
this  is  about all there is for now. I think I'll sleep. Rest  up  for  the
track tomorrow.

     9/26/91 12:16 AM
      Got the proofs the new book today. Poetry. Martin says it will run  to
about  350  pages.  I think the poems hold up. Uphold. I  am  an  old  train
steaming down the track.
     Took me a couple of hours to read. I've had some practice at doing this
thing.  The lines roll free and say about what I want them to say.  Now  the
main influence on myself is myself.
      As we live we all get caught and torn by various traps. Nobody escapes
them.  Some  even live with them. The idea is to realize that a  trap  is  a
trap.  If  you are in one nad you don't realize it, then you're finished.  I
believe  that  I have recognized most of my traps and I have  written  about
them.  Of  course,  all of writing doesn't consist of writing  about  traps.
There are other things. Yet, some might say that life is a trap. Writing can
trap. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past.
Then they are finished. Most writers' creative span is short. They hear  the
accolades  and  believe them. There is only one final judge of  writing  and
that  is  the  writer. When he is swayed by the critics,  the  editors,  the
publishers,  the  readers, then he's finished. And,  of  course,  when  he's
swayed with his fame and his fortune, you can float him down the river  with
the turds.
     Each new line is a beginning and has nothing to do with any lines which
preceeded it. We all start new each time. And, of course, it isn't all  that
holy  either.  The world can live much easier without writing  than  without
plumbing.  And  some  places in the world have very  little  of  either.  Of
course, I'd rather live without plumbing but I'm sick.
      There's  nothing  to  stop a man from writing unless  that  man  stops
himself.  If  a  man  truly desires to write, then he  will.  Rejection  and
ridicule  will  only  strengthen him. And the longer he  is  held  back  the
stronger he will become, like a mass of rising water against a dam. There is
no  losing  in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep,  it  will
make  you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face
with Death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of
the  word.  Go with it, send it. Be the Clown in the Darkness.  It's  funny.
It's funny. One more new line...

     9/26/91 11:36 PM
     A tittle for the new book. Sat out at the track trying to think of one.
That's  one place where one can't think. It sucks the brains and spirit  out
of  you. A draining blow job, that's what that place is. And I haven't  been
sleeping nights. Something is sapping the energy out of me.
      Saw the lonely one at the track today. "How ya doin' Charles?" "O.k.,"
I  told him, then drifted off. He wants camaraderie. He wants to talk  about
things. Horses. You don't talk about horses. That's the LAST thing you  talk
about.  A  few  races went by and then I caught him looking at  me  over  an
automatic betting machine. Poor guy. I went outside and sat down and  a  cop
started  talking  to me. Well, they call them security men. "They're  moving
the  toteboard," he said. "Yes," I said. They had dug the thing out  of  the
ground and were moving it further west. Well, it put men to work. I liked to
see  men working. I hand an idea that the security man was talking to me  to
find out if I was crazy or not. He probably wasn't But I got the idea. I let
ideas  jump me like that. I scratched my belly and pretended that  I  was  a
good  old guy. "They're going to put the lakes back in," I said. "Yeah,"  he
said. "This place used to be called the Track of the Lakes and Flowers." "Is
that  so?"  he  said. "Yeah," I told him, "they used to have  a  Goose  Girl
contest.  They'd choose a goose girl and she went out in a  boat  and  rowed
around  among  the geese. Real boring job." "Yeah," said the  cop.  He  just
stood there. I stood up. "Well," I said, "I'm going to get a coffee. Take it
easy." "Sure," he said, "pick some winners." "You too, man," I said. Then  I
walked away.
     A title. My mind was blank. It was getting chilly. Being on old fart, I
thought  it might be best to get my jacket. I took the escalator  down  from
the  4th  floor. Who invented the escalator? Moving steps. Now,  talk  about
crazy.  People going up and down escalators, elevators, driving cars, having
garage door that open at the touch of a button. Then they go to health clubs
to  work  the  fat off. In 4,000 years we won't have any legs, we'll  wiggle
along on our assholes, or maybe we'll just roll along like tumbleweeds. Each
species  destroys  itself.  What killed the  dinosaurs  was  that  they  ate
everything around and the had to eat each other and that brought it down  to
one and the son-of-a-bitch just starved to death.
     I got down to my car, got my jacket, put it on, took the escalator back
up.  That made me feel more like a playboy, a hustler-leaving the place  and
then coming back. I felt as if I had consulted some special secret source.
      Well,  I played out the card, had some luck. By the 13th race  it  was
dark  and  beginning to rain. I bet ten minutes early and left. Traffic  was
cautious.  Rain  scares the hell out of L.A. drivers. I got on  the  freeway
behind  the  mass  of red taillights. I didn't turn on the radio.  I  wanted
silence.  A title ran through my brain: Bible for the Disenchanted.  No,  no
good.  I  remebered some of the best titles. I mean, ot other  writers.  Bow
Down  to  Wood  and  Stone.  Great  title,  lousy  writer.  Notes  from  the
Underground. Great title. Great writer. Also, The Heart Is a Lonely  Hunter.
Carson  McCullers, a very underrated writer. Of all my dozens of titles  the
one I liked best was Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts.
But I blew that one away on a little mimeo pamphled. Too bad.
      Then  the freeway stopped and I just sat there. No title. My head  was
empty. I felt like sleeping for a week. I was glad I had put the trash  cans
out.  I was tired. Now I didn't have to do it. Trash cans. One night  I  had
slept, drunk, on top of trash cans. New York City. I was awakened by  a  big
rat sitting on my belly. We both, at once, leaped about 3 feet into the air.
I  was  trying to be a writer. Now I was supposed to be one and  I  couldn't
think  of  a  title. I was a fake. Traffic began to move and I  followed  it
along. Nobody knew who anybody else was and it was great. Then a great flash
of  lightning crashed above the freeway and for the first time  that  day  I
felt pretty good.

     9/30/91 11:36 PM
      So, after some days of blank-braining it, I awakened this morning  and
there  was the title, it had come to me in my sleep: The Last Night  of  the
Earth  Poems.  It  fit the content, poems of finality, sickness  and  death.
Mixed with others, of course. Even some humor. But the title works for  this
book and this time. Once you a title, it locks everything in, the poems find
their order. And I like the title. If I saw a book with a title like that  I
would  pick  it  up and try to read a few pages. Some titles  exaggerate  to
attrat attention. They don't work because the lie doesn't work.
      Well,  I'm done with that. Now what? Back to the novel and more poems.
Whatever happened to the short story? It has left me. Here's a reason but  I
don't know what it is. If I worked at it I could find the reason but working
at  it wouldn't help anything. I mean, that time could be used for the novel
or the poem. Or to cut my toenails.
      You  know, somebody ought to invent a decent toenail clipper. I'm sure
it  can  be done. The ones they give us to work with are really awkward  and
disheartening.  I  read where a guy on skid row tried to hold  up  a  liquor
store with a pair of toenail clippers. It didn't work there either. How  did
Dostoevsky cut his toenails? Van Gogh? Beethoven? Did they? I don't  believe
it.  I  used to let Linda do mine. She did an excellent job -- only now  and
then she got a little piece of flesh. Me, I've had enough pain. Of any kind.
      I know that I'm going to die soon and it seems very strange to me. I'm
selfish, I'd just like to keep my ass writting more words. It puts the  glow
in  me, tosses me through golden air. But really, how much longer can  I  go
on? It's not right to keep going on. Hell, death is the gasoline in the tank
anyhow. We need it. I need it. You need it. We trash up the place if we stay
too long.
      Strangest thing, I think, after people die is looking at their  shoes.
That's  the  saddest thing. It's as if most of their personality remains  in
their shoes. The clothes, no. It's in who has just died. You put their  hat,
their  gloves  and  their shoes on the bed and look at them  and  you'll  go
crazy. Don't do it. Anyhow, now they know something that you don't. Maybe.
      Last  day of racing today. I played inter-track wagering, at Hollywood
Park,  betting  Fairplex Park. Bet all 13 races. Had a lucky day.  Came  out
totally  refreshed  and  strong. Wasn't even bored  out  there  today.  Felt
jaunty,  in  touch.  When  you're up, it's great. You  notice  things.  Like
driving  back, you notice steering wheel on your car. The instrument  panel.
You  feel  like you're in a goddamned space ship. You weave in  and  out  of
traffic,  neatly, not rudely -- working distances and speeds. Stupid  stuff.
But  not today. You're up and you stay up. How odd. But you don't fight  it.
Because you know it won't last. Off day tomorrow. Oaktree Meet, Oct. 2.  The
meets go around and around, thousands of horses running. As sensible as  the
tides, a part of them.
      Even  caught  the cop car tailing me on the Harbor freeway  south.  In
time.  I  slowed it to 60. Suddenly, he dropped way back. I held it  at  60.
He'd  almost  clocked  me at 75. They hate Acuras. I stayed  at  60.  For  5
minutes. He roared past me doing a good 90. Bye, bye friend. I hate  getting
a  ticket  like anybody else. You have to keep using the rear  view  mirror.
It's  simple. But you're bound to get tagged finally. And when  you  do,  be
glad  you're not drunk or packing drugs. If you're not. Anyhow, the  title's
in.
      And  now I'm up here with the Macintosh and there is a wonderous space
before  me.  Terrible music on the radio but you can't expect a 100  percent
day. If you get 51, you've won. Today was a 97.
      I see where Mailer has written a huge new novel about the CIA and etc.
Norman  is a professional writer. He asked my wife once, "Hank doesn't  like
my  writing,  does he?" Norman, few writers like other writers'  works.  The
only  time they like them is when they are dead or if they have been  for  a
long time. Writers only like to sniff their own turds. I am one of those.  I
don't  even like to talk to writers, look at them or worse, listen to  them.
And  the  worst  is  to drink with them, they slobber all  over  themselves,
really look piteous, look like they are serching for the wing of the mother.
     I'd rather think about death than about writers. Far more pleasant.
     I'm going to turn this radio off. The composers also sometimes screw it
up.  If  I  had  to  talk  to somebody I think I'd much  prefer  a  computer
repairman or a mortician. With or without drinking. Preferably with.

     10/2/91 11:03 PM
      Death  comes  to  those who wait and to those who don't.  Burning  day
today,  burning  dumb day. Came out of the post office and my  car  wouldn't
kick  over.  Well, I am a decent citizen. I belong to the Auto Club.  So,  I
needed  a  telephone. Forty years ago telephones were everywhere. Telephones
and  clocks. You could always look somewhere and see what time  it  was.  No
more. No more free time. And public telephones are vanishing.
      I  went by instinct. I went into the post office, took a stairway down
and  there  in  a dark corner, all alone and unannounced was a telephone.  A
sticky dirty dark telephone. There was not another within two miles. I  knew
how  to  work  a  telephone. Maybe. Information. The operator's  voice  came
through and I felt saved. It was a calm and boring voice and asked what city
I  wanted. I named the city and the Auto Club. (You have to know how  to  do
all the little things and you have to do them over and over again or you are
dead.  Dead in the streets. Unattended, unwanted.) The lady gave me a number
but it was a wrong number. For the business office. Then I got he garage.  A
macho  voice, cool, weary yet combative. Wonderful I gave him the info.  "30
minutes," he said.
      I went back to the car, opened a letter. It was a poem. Christ. It was
about me. And him. We had met, it seemed, twice, about 15 years ago. He  had
also published me in his magazine. I was a great poet, he said, but I drank.
And  had  lived a miserable down-and-out life. Now yong poets were  drinking
and  living miserable and down-and-out because they thought that was the way
to  make  it. Also, I had attacked other people in my poems, including  him.
And  I  had  imagined that he had written unflattering poems about  me.  Not
true. He was really a nice person, he said he had published many other poets
in  his  magazine for 15 years. And I was not a nice person. I was  a  great
writer  but  not a nice person. And he never would have ever "paled"  around
with  me.  That's what he wrote: "paled." And he kept spelling  "you're"  as
"your." He wasn't a good speller.
     It was hot in the car. It was 100 degrees, the hottest Oct. first since
1906.
     I wasn't going to respond to his letter. He would write again.
      Another  letter  from an agent, enclosing the  work  of  a  writer.  I
glanced.  Bad stuff. Of course. "If you have any suggestions on his  writing
or any publishing leads, we would much appreciate.."
      Another letter from a lady thanking me for sending her husband  a  few
lines and a drawing at ther suggestion, that it made him very happy. But now
they  were  divorced and she was frelancing it and could  she  come  by  and
interview me?
      Twice a week I get requests for interviews. There's just not that much
to  talk  about. There are plenty of things to write about but not  to  talk
about.
      I  remember  once,  in  the  old  days,  some  German  journalist  was
interviewing  me.  I had poured wine into him and had talked  for  4  hours.
After  that, he had leaned forward drunkenly and said, "I am no interviewer.
I just wanted an excuse to see you.."
      I  tossed  the mail to the side and sat waiting. Then I  saw  the  tow
truck. A young smiling fellow. Nice boy. Sure.
     "HEY BABY!" I yelled, "OVER HERE!"
     He backed it around and I got out and told him the problem.
     "Tow me into the Acura garage," I told him.
     "Your warranty still good on that car?" he asked.
     He knew damn well it wasn't. It was 1991 and I was driving a 1989.
     "Doesn't matter," I said, "tow me to the Acura dealer."
     "Take them a long time to fix it, maybe a week."
     "Hell no, they are very fast."
      "Listen," said the boy, "we have our own garage. We can take  it  down
there, maybe fix it today. If not, we'll write you up and give you a call at
first opportunity."
      Right there I visualized my car at their garage for a week. To be told
that I needed a new camshaft. Or my cylinder heads ground.
     "Tow me to Acura," I said.
     "Wait," said the boy, "I gotta call my boss first."
     I waited. He came back.
     "He said to jump start you."
     "What?"
     "Jump start."
     "All right, let's do it."
      I  got in my car let it roll to the back of his truck. He got out  the
snakes and it started right up. I signed the papers and he drove off  and  I
drove off...
      Then I decided to drop the car off at the corner garage. "We know you.
You been coming here for years," said the manager.
     "Good," I said, then smiled, "so don't screw me."
     He just looked at me.
     "Give us 45 minutes."
     "All right."
     "You need a ride?"
     "Sure."
     He pointed. "He'll take you."
      Nice  boy  standing  there. We walked to  his  car.  I  gave  him  the
directions. We drove up the hill.
     "You still making movies?" he asked me.
     I was a celebrity, you see.
     "No," I said, "fuck Hollywood."
     He didn't understand that.
     "Stop here," I said.
     "Oh, that's a big house."
     "I just work there," I said.
     It was true.
     I got out. Gave him 2 dollars. He prostested but took them.
      I  walked up the driveway. The cats were sprawled about, pooped. In my
next life I want to be a cat. To sleep 20 hours a day and wait to be fed. To
sit  around  licking my ass. Humans are too miserable and angry and  single-
minded.
      I  walked up and sat at the computer. It's my new consoler. My writing
has  doubled in power and output since I have gotten it. It's a magic thing.
I sit in front of it like most people sit in front of their tv sets.
     "It's only a glorified typewriter," my son-in-law told me once.
      But he isn't a writer. He doesn't know what it is when words bite into
space,  flash into light, when the thoughts that come into the head  can  be
followed at once by words, which encourages more thoughts and more words  to
follow.  With a typewriter it's like walking through mud. With  a  computer,
it's ice skating. It's a blazing blast. Of course, if there's nothing inside
you, it doesn't matter. And then there's the clean-up work, the corrections.
Hell, I used to have to write everyhing twice. The first time to get it down
and  the  second time to correct the errors and fuckups. This way, it's  one
run for the fun, the glory and the escape.
     I wonder what the next step will be after the computer? You'll probably
just  press  your  fingers to your temples and out will come  this  mass  of
perfect  wordage.  Of course, you'll have to fill up before  you  start  but
there will always be some lucky ones who can do that. Let's hope.
     The phone rang.
     "It's the battery," he said, "you needed a new battery."
     "Suppose I can't pay?"
     "Then we'll hold your spare tire."
     "Be down soon."
      And as soon as I started down the hill I heard my elderly neighbor. He
was  yelling at me. I climbed his steps. He was dressed in his pajama  pants
and and old gray sweatshirt. I walked up and shook his hand.
     "Who are you?" he asked.
     "I'm your neighbor. Been there for ten years."
     "I'm 96," he said.
     "I know it, Charley."
     "God won't take me because He's afraid I'll take his job."
     "You could."
     "Could take the Devil's job too."
     "You could."
     "How old are you?"
     "71."
     "71?"
     "Yes."
     "That's old too."
     "Oh, I know it, Charley."
      We  shook hands and I went back down his steps and then down the hill,
passing the tired plants, the tired houses.
     I was on my way to the gas station.
     Just another day kicked in the ass.

     10/3/91 11:56 PM
     Today was the second day of inter-track wagering. Where the live horses
ran at Oak Tree there were only 7,000 people. Many people don't want to make
that  long drive to Arcadia. For those living in the south part of town,  it
means  taking hte Harbor Freeway, then the Pasadena Freeway and  then  after
that  more driving along surface streets to get the track. It's a  long  hot
drive, coming and going. I always came in from that drive totaly exhausted.
      A  small-time trainer phoned me. "There was nobody out there. It's the
end.  I  need  a  new trade. Think I'll get a word processor  and  become  a
writer. I'll write about you..."
      His  voice  was  on  the  message  machine.  I  phoned  him  back  and
congratulated him for coming in 2nd on a 6-to-1 shot. But he was down.
     "The small trainer is finished. This is the end," he said.
      Well,  we'll see what they draw tomorrow. Friday. Probably a  thousand
more.  It's  only inter-track wagering, it's the economy. Things  are  worse
than  the  government or the press will admit. Those who are still alive  in
the  economy are keeping quiet about it. I'd have to guess that the  biggest
business going is the sale of drugs. Hell, take that away and almost all the
young  would  be  unemployed. Me, I'm still making it as a writer  but  that
could  be  shot through the head overnight. Well, I still have  my  old  age
pension:  $943.00 a month. They gave me that when I turned 70. But that  can
die  too.  Imagine all the old wandering the streets without their pensions.
Don't discount it. The national debt can pull us under like a giant octopus.
People  will  be sleeping in the graveyards. At the same time,  there  is  a
crust  of  living rich on top of the rot. Isn't it astonishing? Some  people
have  so  damn much money they don't even know how much they have.  And  I'm
talking  millions.  And  look at Hollywood, turning out  60  million  dollar
movies, as idiotic as the poor fools who go to see them. The rich are  still
there, they've always found a way to milk the system.
      I  remember  when the racetracks were jammed wtih people, shoulder  to
shoulder, ass to ass, sweating, screaming, pushing toward the full bars.  It
was  a  good  time. Have a big day, you'd both be drinking and laughing.  We
thought  those days (and night) would never end. And why should  they?  Crap
games  in  the  parking lots. Fist fights. Bravcado and glory.  Electricity.
Hell, life was good, life was funny. All us guys were men, we'd take no shit
from  anybody. And, frankly, it felt good. Booze and a roll in the hay.  And
plenty  of bars, full bars. No tv sets. You talked and got into trouble.  If
you  got  picked up for being drunk in the streets they only locked  you  up
overnight  to  dry out. You lost jobs and found other jobs. No  use  hanging
around  the  same  place.  What a time. What a  life.  Crazy  things  always
happening, followed by more crazy things.
      Now,  it has simmered away. Seven thousand people at a major racetrack
on  a sunny afternnon. Nobody at the bar. Just the lonely barkeep holding  a
towel.  Where are the people? There are more people than ever but where  are
they?  Standing  on  a corner, sitting in a room. Bush might  get  reelected
because he won an easy war. But he didn't do crap for the economy. You never
even  know  if your bank will openin the morning. I don't mean to  sing  the
blues. But you know, in the 1930's at least everybody knew where they  were.
Now,  it's  a game of mirrors. And nobody is quite sure what is  holding  it
together. Or who they are really working for. If they are working.
      Damn, I've got to get off this. Nobody else seems to be bitching about
the  state of affairs. Or, if the are, they are in a place where nobody  can
hear them.
      And  I sit around writing poems, a novel, I can't help it, I can't  do
anything else.
     I was poor for 60 years. now I am neither rich nor poor.
      At  the  track  they  are  going to start laying  off  people  at  the
concession  stands,  the  parking lots and in the  business  office  and  in
maintenance.  Purses for races will decline. Smaller fields. Less  jocks.  A
lot  less laughter. Capitalism has survived communism. Now, it eats away  at
itself.  Moving toward 2,000 A.D. I'll be dead and out of here.  Leaving  my
little stack of books. Seven thousand at the track. Seven thousand. I  can't
believe  it. The Sierra Madres weep in the smog. When the horses  no  longer
run  the  sky  will  fall down, flat, wide, ponderous, crushing  everything.
Glassware won the 9th, paid $9.00. I had a ten on it.

     10/9/91 12:07 PM
      Computer class was a kick for sore ballls. You pick it up inch by inch
and  try to get the totality. The problem is that the books say one way  and
some  people  say  the other. The terminology slowly becomes understandable.
The  computer only does, it doesn't know. You can confuse it and it can turn
on  you.  It's  up to you to get along with it. Still, the computer  can  go
crazy  and do odd and strange things. It catches viruses, gets shorts, bombs
out,  etc.  Somehow, tonight, I feel that the less said about the  computer,
the better.
       I  wonder  whatever  happened  to  that  crazy  French  reporter  who
interviewed me in Paris so long ago? The one who drank whiskey the way  most
men  drink  beer? And he got brighter and more interesting  as  the  bottles
emptied.  Probably dead. I used to drink 15 hours a day but  it  was  mostly
beer  and wine. I ought to be dead. I will be dead. Not bad, thinking  about
that.  I've  had  a  weird  and wooly existence, much  of  it  awful,  total
drudgery.  But I think it was the way I rammed myself through the shit  that
made  the difference. Looking back now, I think I exhibited a certain amount
of  cool and class no matter what was happening. I remember how the FBI guys
got  pissed driving me along in that car. "HEY, THIS GUY'S PRETTY COOL!" one
of  them  yelled angrily. I hadn't asked what I had been picked  up  for  or
where we were going. It just didn't matter to me. Just another slice out  of
the  senselessness  of  life. "NOW WAIT," I told them.  "I'm  scared."  That
seemed to make them feel better. To me, they were like creatures from  outer
space. We couldn't relate to each other. But it was strange. I felt nothing.
Well, it wasn't exactly strange to me, I mean it was strange in the ordinary
sense.  I  just saw hands and feet and heads. They had their minds  made  up
about  something, it was up to them. I wasn't looking for justice and logic.
I  never  have. Maybe that's why I never wrote any social protest stuff.  To
me,  the whole structure would never make sense no matter what they did with
it.  you really can't make something good out of something that isn't there.
Those  guys  wanted  me to show fear, they were used to  that.  I  was  just
disgusted.
      Now  here I am going to a computer class. But it's all for the better,
to  play  with words, my only toy. Just musing there tonight. The  classical
music  on the radio is not too good. I think I'll shut down and go sit  with
the  wife  and  cats for a while. Never push, never force  the  word.  Hell,
there's no contest and certainly very little competition. Very little.

     10/14/91 12:47 PM
      Of  course, there are some strange types at the racetrack. There's one
fellow who's out there almost every day. He never seems to win a race. After
each  race he screams in dismay about the horse that won. "IT'S A  PIECE  OF
SHIT!"  he  will scream. And then go on shouting about how the  horse  never
should  have won. A good 5 minutes worth. Often the horse will read 5  to  2
and  3  to 1, 7 to 2. Now a horse like that must show something or the  odds
would be much higher. But to this gentleman it just doesn't make sense.  And
don't  let  him lose a photo finish. He really comes on with it then.  "FUCK
THE  GOD  IN THE FACE! HE CAN'T DO THIS TO ME!" I have no idea why he  isn't
barred from the track.
      I  asked another fellow once, "Listen, how does this guy make it?" I'd
seen him talking to him at times.
     "He borrows money," he told me.
     "But doesn't he run out of lenders?"
     "He finds new ones. You know his favorite expression?"
     "No."
     "When does the bank open in the morning?"
      I  guess  he just wants to be at the racetrack, somehow,  just  to  be
there. It means something to him even if he continues to lose. It's a  place
to  be.  A  mad  dream.  But  it's boring there. A groggy  place.  Everybody
thinking  that they alone know the angle. Dumb lost egos. I'm one of  those.
Only it's a hobby for me. I think. I hope. But there is something there,  if
only  in a short time frame, very short, a flash, like when my horse  is  in
the  run  and then it does it. I see it happening. There is a high, a  lift.
Life becomes almost sensible when the horses do your bidding. But the spaces
in  between are very flat. People standing about. Most of them losers.  They
begin  to look dry as dust. They are sucked dry. Yet, you know, when I force
myself  to  stay  home  I begin to feel very listless, sick,  useless.  It's
strange. The nights are always all right, I type at night. But the days have
to  gotten rid of. I'm sick too in a way. I am not facing reality.  But  who
the hell wants to?
      It  reminds  me of when I stayed in this Philadelhia bar from  5  a.m.
until  2  a.m.  It  seemed the only place I could be. Often  I  didn't  even
remember  going  to  my room and coming back. I seemed always  on  that  bar
stool. I was evading the realities, I didn't like them.
     Maybe for this fellow the racetrack was like the bar was for me?
      All  right,  you tell me something useful. Be a lawyer?  A  doctor?  A
congressman? That's crap too. They think it isn't crap but it is.  They  are
locked  into  a system and they can't get out. And almost everybody  is  not
very good at what hey do. It doesn't matter, they are in the safe cocoon.
      It  got kind of funny out there one day. I'm speaking of the racetrack
again.
      The  Crazy Screamer was there as usual. But there was another  fellow,
you  could  see  that there was something wrong with his eyes.  They  looked
angry. He was standing near the Screamer and listening. Then he listened  to
the  Screamer's predictions for the next race. The Screamer  was  good  that
way. And evidently Angry Eyes was betting the Screamer's tips.
      The day wore on. I was coming out of the men's room and then I saw and
heard  it. Angry Eyes was yelling at the Screamer, "God-damn you,  shut  up!
I'm  going to kill you!" The Screamer turned his back and walked off saying,
"Please...  Please..."  in  a very weary and disgusted  manner.  Angry  Eyes
followed him: "YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"
      Security arrived and intercepted Angry Eyes and led him off. Evidently
death at the racetrack was not to be condoned.
     Poor Screamer. He was quiet the remainder of the day. But he stayed the
full card. Gambling, of course can eat you alive.
      I  had a girlfriend once who said, "You're really in bad shape, you go
to  both Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous at the same time."  But
she  really  didn't mind either of those things unless they interfered  with
bed exercises. Then she hated them.
      I  remember a friend of mine who was a total gambler. He told me once,
"I don't care if I win or lose, I just want to gamble."
      I'm  not  that  way, I've been on Starvation Row too many  times.  Not
having any money at all has the slightest tinge of Romanticism when you  are
very young.
      Anyway, the Screamer was out there again the next day. Same thing:  he
railed  against the results of each race. Think of this. It's  a  very  hard
thing  to do. I mean, even if you know nothing, you can just take a  number,
any  number,  say  3. You can bet 3 for 2 or 3 days and  you  are  bound  to
finally  get  a winner. But not this fellow. He is a marvel.  He  knows  all
about  horses, fractional times, track variants, pace, class,  etc.  but  he
still  manages only to pick losers. Think of it. Then forget it or  it  will
drive you crazy.
      I  picked up $275 today. I started playing the horses late, when I was
35.  I've  been at them for 36 years and I figure they still owe me  $5,000.
Should the gods allow me 8 or 9 more ears I die even.
     Now that's a goal worth shooting for, don't you think?
     Huh?

     10/15/91 12:55 AM
      Burned out. A couple night of drinking this week. Got to admit I don't
recover as fast as I used to. Best thing about being tired is that you don't
come  out  (in the writing) with any wild and dizzy proclamations. Not  that
that is bad unless it becomes habitual. The first thing writing should do is
save  your  own  ass. If it does this, then it will be automatically  juicy,
entertaining.
      Writer  I know is phoning people telling them that he types 5 hours  a
night.  I  imagine that we are supposed to marvel at this. Of course,  do  I
have  to tell you? What matters is what he is typing. I wonder if he  counts
his telephone time as part of this 5 hours of typing?
      I  can type from one to 4 hours but the 4th hour, somehow, tapers away
into  almost  nothing. Knew a guy once who told me, "We fucked  all  night."
It's  not  the same fellow who types 5 hours a night. But they've meet  each
other. Maybe they ought to take turns, switch off. The guy who typed 5 hours
get to fuck all night and the guy who fucked all night gets to type 5 hours.
Or maybe they can fuck each other while somebody else types. Not me, please.
Have the woman do it. If there is one...
      Hmmm..  you know, I am feeling somewhat goofy tonight. I keep thinking
of Maxim Gorky. Why? I don't know. Somehow it seems as if Gorky never really
existed.  Some  writers you can believe were there. Like  Turgenev  or  D.H.
Lawrence. Hemingway appears to me to half-and-half. He was really there  but
he wasn't. But Gorky? He did write some strong thigs. Before the Revolution.
Then after the Revolution his writing began to pale. He didn't have much  to
bitch about. It's like the anti- war protesters, they need a war in order to
thrive. There are some who make good living protesting against war. And when
there isn't a was they don't know what to do. Like during the Gulf War there
was  group of writers, poets, they had planned a huge anti-war protest, they
were ready with thei poems and speeches. Suddenly the war was over. And  the
protest  was scheduled for a week later. But they didn't call it  off.  They
went  ahead with it anyway. Because they wanted to be on stage. They  needed
it.  It  was something like an Indian doing a Rain Dance. I myself am  anti-
war.  I  was  anti-war  long ago when it wasn't even a popular,  decent  and
intellectual thing. But I am suspect of the courage and motivations of  many
of  the professional anti-war protesters. From Gorky to this, what? Let  the
mind roll, who cares?
      Another  good day at the track. Don't worry, I'm not winning  all  the
money.  I usually bet $10 or $20 to win or when it really looks good to  me,
I'll go $40.
      The  racetracks further confuse the people. They have 2 fellows on  tv
before  each race and they talk about who they think will win. They  show  a
net  loss on each meet. As do all the public handicapppers, tout sheets  and
race  betting services. Even computers can't figure the nags matter how much
info is fed into them. Any time you pay somebody to tell you what to do  you
are  going  to  be  a  loser.  And  this includes  your  psychiatrist,  your
psychologist, your broker, your workshop teacher and your etc.
      There  is nothing that teaches you more than regrouping after  failure
and moving on. Yet most people are stricken with fear. They fear failure  so
much  that they fail. They are too conditioned, too used to being told  what
to  do.  It  begins with the family, runs through school and goes  into  the
business world.
      You see here, I have a couple of good days at the track and suddenly I
know everything.
      There is a door open into the night and I am sitting here freezing but
I  won't get up and close the door because these words are running away with
me  and  I like that too much to stop. But damn it, I will. I'll get up  and
close the door and take a piss.
      There,  I  did it. Both of those things. I even put on a sweater.  Old
writer  pust  on sweater, sits down, leers into computer screen  and  writes
about  life. How holy can we get? And Christ, did you ever wonder  how  much
piss  a  man pisses in a lifetime? How much he eats, shits? Tons.  Horrible.
It's  best we die and get out of here, we are poisoning everything with what
we expel. Damn the dancing girls, they do it too.
     No horses tomorrow. Tuesday is an off day.
      I think I'll go downstairs and sit with my wife, look at some dumb tv.
I'm either at the track or at this machine. Maybe she's glad of it. Hope so.
Well,  here  I  go. I'm a good guy, you know? Down the stairs.  It  must  be
strange living with me. It's strange to me.
     Good night.

     10/20/91 12:18 AM
      This  is  one  of those nights where there is nothing.  Imagine  being
always  like this. Scooped-out. Listless. No light. No dance. Not  even  any
disgust.
      This way, one doesn't even have the good sense to commit suicide.  The
thought doesn't occur.
     Get up. Scratch yourself. Drink some water.
     I feel like a mongrel dog in July, only it's October.
     Still, I've had a good year. Masses of pages sit it the bookcase behind
me.  Written since Jan. 18. It's like a madman was turned loose. No sane man
would write that many pages. It's a sickness.
      This year has also been good because I've held back on visitors,  more
than  ever before. I was tricked once though. Some man wrote me from London,
said  he  had  taught  in  Soweto. And when he had read  his  students  some
Bukowski many of them had shown a real interest. Black African kids. I liked
that.  I  always like happening from a distance. Later on this man wrote  me
that  he worked for the Guardian and that he'd like to come by and interview
me.  He asked for my phone number, via mail, and I gave it to him. He phoned
me.  Sounded  all right. We set a date and time and he was on his  way.  The
night  and  time arrived and there he was. Linda and I set him up with  wine
and  he began. The interview seemed all right, only a little off- hand, odd.
He  would ask a question, I would answer it and he would begin talking about
some  experience he had had, relating more or less to the question  and  the
answer  I  had given. The wine kept pouring and the interview was  over.  We
drank  on  and  he  talked  about Africa, etc. His  accent  began  changing,
alterning, getting, I think, grosser. And he seemed to be getting  more  and
more stupid. He was metamorphosing right in front of us. He got onto sex and
stayed  there.  He liked black girls. I said that we didn't know  many,  but
that  Linda had a friend who was a Mexican girl. That did it. He had to meet
this Mexican girl. It was a must. We said, well, we didn't know. He kept  on
and  on.  We  were drinking good wine but his mind acted as if it  had  been
blasted by whiskey. Soon it just got down to "Mexican... Mexican... where is
this  Mexican  girl?"  he had dissolved completely. He  was  just  a  sloppy
senseless barroom drunk. I told that the night was over. I had to  make  the
track the next day. We moved him toward the door. "Mexican, Mexican...,"  he
said.
     "You will send us a copy of the interview, yes?" I asked.
     "Of course, of course," he said. "Mexican..."
     We closed the door and he was gone.
     Then we had to drink to rid him from our minds.
     That was months ago. No article ever arrived. He had nothing to do with
the  Guardian. I don't know if he really phoned from London. He was probably
phoning  from  Long Beach. People use the ruse of interview to  get  in  the
door. And since there is usually no payment for an interview, anybody can up
and knock on the door with a tape recorder and a list of questions. A fellow
with  a German accent came by one night with his recorder. He made claim  to
belonging  to  some German publication that had circulation of millions.  He
stayed  for hours. His questions seemed dumb but I opened up, tried to  make
it  lively and good. He must have gotten 3 hours worth of tape. We drank and
drank  and drank. Soon his head was falling forward. We drank him under  the
table  and  were  ready to go further. Really have a  ball.  His  head  bent
forward on his chest. Little driblets ran out of the corners of his mouth. I
shook him. "Hey! Hey! Wake up!" He came around and looked at me. "I have got
to tell you something," he said, "I am no interviewer, I just wanted to come
and see you."
      There have been times when I was a sucker for photographers too.  They
claim  connections,  send samples of their work. They  come  by  with  their
screens  and  their backgrounds and their flashes and their assistants.  You
never  hear  from  them  again either. I mean,  they  never  send  back  any
photographs. Not any. They are the greatest liars. "I'll send you a complete
set."  On  man  said, "I am going to send you one that will be  full  size."
"What  do  you mean?" I asked. "I'm going to send you a 6 by 4 foot  photo."
That was a couple of years ago.
      I've always said, a writer's job is to write. If I get burned by these
fakes  and sons-of-bitches, it's my fault. I'm done with them all. Let  them
toady up to Elizabeth Taylor.

     10/22/91 4:46 PM
      The  dangerous life. Had to get up at 8 a.m. to feed the cats  because
the Westec Security man was coming by at 8:30 a.m. to begin the installation
of  a more sophisticated warning system. (Am I the one who used to sleep  on
top of garbage cans?)
      Westec  Security arrived at exactly 8:30 a.m. A good sign. I took  him
around the house pointing out windows, doors, etc. Good, good. We would wire
them,  we  would install glass- breaking detectors, low beams, cross  beams,
fire  sprinklers,  etc.  Linda came down and asked some  questions.  She  is
better at that than I.
     I had one thought: "How long will this take?"
     "Three days," he said.
      "Jesus  Christ,"  I  said. (Two of those days the racetrack  would  be
closed.)
     So we fumbled around and left him in there, told him we'd be back soon.
We  had a $100 gift certificate at I. Magnin's somebody had given us for our
wedding anniversary. Also, I had a royalty check to deposit. So, off to  the
bank. I signed the check.
     "I really like your signature," the girl said.
     Another girl walked over and looked at the signature.
     "His signature keeps changing," said Linda.
     "I have to keep signing my name in books," I said.
     "He's a writer," Linda said.
     "Really? What do you write?" one of the girls asked.
     "Tell her," I said to Linda.
     "He writes poems, short stories and novels," she said.
     "And a screenplay," I said. "Barfly."
     "Oh," smiled one of the girls, "I saw it."
     "Did you like it?"
     "Yes," she smiled.
     "Thank you," I said.
     Then we turned and walked off.
      "I  heard one of the girls say as we walked in, "I know who that  is,"
said Linda.
     See? We were famous. We got into the car and drove over to the shopping
center to get something to eat near I. Magnin's.
      We  got  a  table, had turkey sandwiches, apple juice and cappuccinos.
From  the  table we could see a goodly portion of the mall.  The  place  was
virtually  empty. Business was bad. Well, we had a hundred dollar coupon  to
blow. We'd help the economy.
      I  was the only man there. Just women sat at the tables, alone, or  in
twos. The men were elsewhere. I didn't mind. I felt safe with the ladies.  I
was resting. My wounds were healing. I could stand a little shade. Damned if
I  could leap off of cliffs forever. Maybe after a respite I could dive over
the edge again. Maybe.
     We finished eating and went over to I. Magnin's.
      I  needed shirts. I looked at thirts. Couldn't find a damned one. They
looked  like they had been designed by half- wit. I passed. Linda  needed  a
purse. She found one, marked down 50%. It was $395. It just didn't look like
$395.  More like $49.50. She passed. There were 2 chairs with elephant heads
on  the backs. Nice. But they were thousands. There was a glass bird,  nice,
$75  but  Linda said we had no plae to put it. Same with the fish with  blue
stripes.  I  was getting tired. Looking at things made me tired.  Department
stores  wore me down and stamped on me. There was nothing in them. Tons  and
tons  of  crap.  If it were free, I wouldn't take it. Don't they  ever  sell
anything likeable?
      We  decided maybe another day. We went to a bookstore. I needed a book
on  my computer. I needed to know more. Found a book. Went to the clerk.  He
tabbed  it up. I paid with a card. "Thank you," he said, "would you be  good
enough  to  sign this?" He handed me my lastest book. There, I  was  famous.
Noticed twice in the same day. Twice was enough. Three times or more and you
were  in  trouble. The gods were making it just right for me.  I  asked  his
name, wrote it in, scribbled something, my name and a drawing.
      We stopped at the computer store on the way in. I needed paper for the
laser printer. They didn't have any. I showed my fist to the clerk. Made  me
think of the old days. He recommended a place. We found it on the way in. We
found  everything there, cut-rate. I got enough laser pape to last two years
and  likewise mailing envelopes, pens, paper clips. Now, all I had to do was
write.
      We  drove on in. The security man had left. The tile man had come  and
gone.  He  left  a  note, "I will be back by 4 p.m." We knew  the  tile  man
wouldn't  be  bak at 4 p.m. He was crazy. Bad childhood. Very confused.  But
good with tiles.
     I packed the stuff upstairs. I was ready. I was famous. I was a writer.
     I sat down and opened the computer. I opened it to STUPID GAMES. Then I
started playing Tao. I was getting better and better at it. I seldom lost to
the  computer.  It  was easier than beating the horses but  somehow  not  as
fulfilling. Well, I'd be back Wednesday. Playing the horses tightened up  my
screws.  It  was  part of the scheme. It worked. And I had 5,000  sheets  of
laser paper to fill.

     10/31/91 12:27 AM
      Terrible day at the racetrack, not so much in money lost, I  may  even
have  won  a  bob,  but  the  feeling out there was  horrible.  Nothing  was
stirring. It was as if I was doing time and you know, I don't have much time
left.  The same faces, the same 18 percent take. Sometimes I feel as  if  we
are  all  trapped in a movie. We know our lines, where to walk, how to  act,
only  there is no camera. Yet, we can't break out of the movie. And  it's  a
bad  one.  I know each of the mutuel clerks all too well. We sometimes  have
small  conversation as I bet. It's my wish to find a noncommital clerk,  one
who  will  simply  puch out my tickets and say nothing. But,  they  all  get
social,  finally.  They are bored. And they are on guard too:  many  of  the
horseplayers are somewhat deranged. There are often confrontations with  the
clerks, loud buzzers sound and security comes running. By talking to us, the
clerks  can feel us out. They feel safer that way. They prefer the  friendly
bettor.
      The  horseplayers are easier for me. The regulars know that I am  some
kind  of nut and don't wish to speak to them. I am always working on  a  new
system, often changing the systems in midstream. I am always trying  to  fit
numbers around actuality, trying to code the madness into a simple number or
a group of numbers. I want to understand life, happenings in life, I read an
article  wherein  it was stated that for some long period of  time  now,  in
chess,  a king, a bishop and a rook were believed to be equal to a king  and
two  knight. A Los Alamos machine with 65,536 processors was put to work  on
the  program.  The computer solved the problem in 5 hours after  considering
100  billion  moves by working backwards from the winning position.  It  was
found  that the king, the rook and the bishop could defeat the king and  two
knights in 224 moves. This is utterly fascinating to me. It certainly  beats
the ponderous, tiddlywinks game of betting the horses.
      I  believe  that I worked too long in my life as a common  laborer.  I
worked as such until I was 50 years old. Those bastards got me used to going
somewhere every day and staying somewhere for many hours and then returning.
I feel guilty just lolling about. So, I find myself at the track, bored and,
at  the same time, going crazy. I reserve the nights for the computer or for
drinking  or  for  both. Some of my readers think I love  horses,  that  the
action excites me, that I am a gung-ho gambler, a real macho big time boy. I
get  books  in the mail about horses and horse racing and stories about  the
track  and  etc.  I don't give a damn about that stuff. I go  to  the  track
almost  reluctantly. I am too idiotic to figure out any other place  to  go.
Where,  where  during the day? The Hanging Gardens? A motion picture?  Hell,
help me, I can't sit around with the ladies and most men my age are dead and
if they aren't dead they should be because they surely seem to be.
     I've tried staying away from the track but thein I get very nervous and
depressed  and  that  night  there are absolutely  no  juices  to  lend  the
computer.  I guess getting my ass out of here forces me to look at  Humanity
and  when  you look at Humanity you've GOT to react. It's all  too  much,  a
continuous horror show. Yeah, I'm bored out there, I'm terrorized out  there
but I'm also, so far, some kind of student. A student of hell.
     Who knows? Some day soon I might be bedridden. I'll lay there and paint
on sheets of paper tacked to the wall. I'll paint them with a long brush and
probably even like it.
      But  right  now, it's the faces of the horseplayers, cardboard  faces,
horrible, evil, blank, greedy, dying faces, day papers, watching the changes
on  the toteboard as they are being ground away to lett and less, as I stand
there with them, as I am one with them. We are sick, the suckerfish of hope.
Our poor clothing, our old cars. We move toward the mirage, our lives wasted
like everyboy else's.

     11/3/91 12:48 AM
      Stayed home from the track today, have had a sore throat and a pain at
the top of my head, a tittle toward the right side of it. When you get to be
71  you  can  never  tell  when your head is going to  explode  through  the
windshield.  I  still go after a good drunk now and then and smoke  far  too
many  cigarettes. The body get pissed off at me for doing this, but the mind
must  be  fed  too. And the spirit. Drinking feeds my mind  and  my  spirit.
Anyhow, I stayed in from the track, slept until 12:20 p.m.
      Easy  day.  Got in the spa like a big timer. The sun was out  and  the
water bubbled and whirled, hot. I soothed out. Why not? Get an edge. Try  to
feel  better. The whole world is a sack of shit ripping open. I  can't  save
it.  But I've gotten many letters from people who claim that my writing  has
saved their asses. But I didn't write it for that, I wrote it to save my own
ass.  I  was always outside, never fit. I found that out in the schoolyards.
And  another thing I learned was that I learned very slowly. The other  guys
knew  everything, I didn't know a fucking thing. Everything was bathed in  a
white  and dizzying light. I was a fool. And yet, even when I was a  fool  I
knew  that I wasn't a complete fool. I had some little corner of me  that  I
was  protecting , there was something there. No matter. Here I was in a  spa
and  my  life was closing down. I didn't mind, I had seen the circus. Still,
there  are always more things to write until they throw me into the darkness
or  into whatever it is. That's the good thing about the word, it just keeps
trotting  on, looking for things, forming sentences, having a  ball.  I  was
full  of words and they still came out in a good form. I was lucky.  In  the
spa.  Bad throat, pain in head, I was luck. Old writer in spa, musing. Nice,
nice. But hell is always there, waiting to unfurl.
      My old yellow cat came up and looked at me in the water. We looked  at
each other. We each knew everything and nothing. Then he walked off.
     The day went on. Linda and I had lunch somewhere, don't remember where.
Food  not  so  good, packed with Saturday people. They were alive  but  they
weren't  alive. Sitting at the tables and booths, eating and talking.  Wait,
Jesus,  that reminds me. Had lunch the other day before going to the  track.
Sat  at the counter, it was completely empty. I had gotten my order and  was
eating.  Man walked in and took the seat RIGHT NEXT TO MINE. Threre were  20
or  25  other seats. He took the one next to me. I'm just not that  fond  of
people.  The  further I am from them the better I feel. And he  put  in  his
order and started talking into the waitress. About professional football.  I
watch it sometimes myself, but to talk about it in a cafe? They went on  and
on,  dribbles  about this and that. On and on. Favorite player.  Who  should
win,  etc.  Then  somebody at a booth joined in. I suppose I  wouldn't  have
minded it all so much if I hadn't been rubbing elbows with that bastard next
to me. A good sort, sure. He liked football. Safe. American. Sitting next to
me. Forget it.
      So  yes,  we  had lunch, Linda and I, got back and it  went  restfully
toward the night, then just after dark Linda noticed something. She was good
at  that sort of thing. I saw her coming back through the yard and she said,
"Old Charley fell, the fire department is there."
     Old Charley is the 96-year-old guy who lives in the big house next door
to us. His wife died last week. They were married 46 years.
      I  walked out front and there was the fire truck. There was  a  fellow
standing there. "I'm Charley's neighbor. Is the alive?"
     "Yes," he said.
     It was evident that they were waiting for the ambulance. The fire truck
had  gotten there first. Linda and I waited. The ambulance came. It was odd.
Two  little guys got out, they seemed quite small. They stood side by  side.
Three  fire engine guys surrounded them. One of them started talking to  the
little  guys. They stood there and nodded. Then that was over.  They  walked
around  and got the stretcher. They carried it up the long stairway  to  the
house.
      They  were in there a very long time. Then out they came. Old  Charley
was  strapped  onto the stretcher. As they got ready to load  him  into  the
amulance  we stepped forward. "Hold on, Charley," I said. "We'll be  waiting
for you to come back," Linda said.
     "Who are you?" Charley asked.
     "We're your neighbors," Linda answered.
      Then he was loaded in and gone. A red car followed with 2 relatives in
it.
      My  neighbor walked over from across the street. We shook hands.  We'd
been a couple of drunks together. We told him about Charley. And we were all
miffed that the relatives left alone so much. But there wasn't much we could
do.
     "You oughta see my waterfall," said my neighbor.
     "All right," I said, "let's see it."
      We walked over there, through his wife, past his kind and out the back
door  and into the backyard past his pool and sure enough there in the  back
was a HUGE waterfall. It went all the way up a cliff in the back and some of
the water seemed to be coming out of a tree trunk. It was massive. And built
of  huge  and  beautiful stones of different color. The  water  roared  down
flooded  by  lights. It was had to believe. There was a  worker  back  there
still working on the waterfall. There was more to be done on it.
     I shook hands with the worker.
     "He's read all your books," my neighbor said.
     "No shit," I said.
     The worker smiled at me.
      The we walked back into the house. My neighbor asked me, "How about  a
glass of wine?"
      I  told him, "No, thanks." Then explained the sore throat and the pain
at the top of my head.
     Linda and I walked back across the street and back to our place.
     And, basically, that was about the day and the night.

     11/22/91 12:26 AM
      Well,  my  71st  year  has been a hell of a productive  year.  I  have
probably  written  more words this year than in any year  of  my  life.  And
though  a  writer is a poor judge of his own work, I still tend  to  believe
that  the writing is about as good as ever -- I mean, as good as I have done
in my peak times. This computer that I started using on Jan. 18 has had much
to  do  with it. It's simply easier to get the word down, it transfers  more
quickly from the brain (or wherever this comes from) to the fingers and from
the  fingers  to  the screen where it is immediately visible  --  crisp  and
clear. It's not a matter of speed per se, it's a matter of flow, a river  of
words  and  if  the  words are good then let them run  with  ease.  No  more
carbons, no more retyping. I used to neeed one night to do the work and then
the  next  night  to correct the errors and sloppines of the  night  before.
Misspellings,  screw-ups in tenses, etc. can now all  be  corrected  on  the
orginal  copy  without a complete retype or write-ins or cross-outs.  Nobody
likes  to  read  haphazard copy, not even the writer. I know all  this  must
sound  prissy  and over-careful but it isn't, all it does is allow  whatever
force  or luck you might have engendered to come out clearly. It's  all  for
the best, really, and if this is how you lose your soul, I am all for it.
      There have been some bad moments. I remember one night after typing  a
good  4  hours or so, I felt I had had some astonishing luck when --  I  hit
something or other -- there was a flash of blue light and the many pages  of
writing  vanished.  I tried everything to get them back.  They  were  simply
gone.  Yes,  I  had it set on "Save-all," it still didn't matter.  This  had
happened at other times but not with so many pages. Let me tell you,  it  is
one  hell of a hell of a horrible feeling when the pages vanish. Come  think
of  it  now,  I have lost 3 or 4 pages at other times on my novel.  A  whole
chapter.  What I did then was simply rewrite the whole damn thing. When  you
do  this,  you lose something, little highlights that don't return  but  you
gain  something too because as you rewrite you skip some parts  that  didn't
quite  please you and you add some parts that are better. So? Well,  it's  a
long  night then. The birds are up. The wife and the cats think you've  gone
mad.
      I  consulted some computer experts about the "blue flash" but none  of
them  could  tell  me  anything. I've found out that most  computer  experts
aren't very expert. Confounding things happen that just aren't in the  book.
Now  that  I  know more about computers I think I know one thing that  might
have brought the work back from the "blue flash"...
      The  worst  night  was  when I sat down to the computer  and  it  went
completely crazy, sending out bombs, weird loud sounds, moments of darkness,
deathly blackness, I worked and worked and worked but could do nothing. Then
I noticed what looked like liquid that had hardened on the screen and around
the slot near the "brain," the slot where you inserted the disks. One of  my
cats  had  sprayed the machine. I had to take it down to the computer  shop.
The  mechanic  was out and a salesman removed a portion of  the  "brain,"  a
yellow liquid splashed on his white shirt and he screamed "cat spray!"  Poor
guy.  Poor guy. Anyhow, I left the computer. Nothing in the warranty covered
cat spray. They had to take practically all the guts out of the "brain."  It
ook them 8 days to fix it. During that time I went back to my typewriter. It
was like trying to break rock with my hands. I had to learn to type all over
again.  I had to get good and drunk to get the flow. And again, it  was  one
night to write it and another night to straighten it out. But I was glad the
typer  was  there. We had been toghether over 5 decades and had  some  great
times. When I got the computer back it was with some sadness that I returned
the  old  typer to its place in the corner. But I went back to the  computer
and  the  words  flew like crazy birds. And there were no  longer  any  blue
flashes  and pages that vanished. Things were even better. That cat spraying
the machine fixed everything up. Only now, when I leave the computer I cover
it with a large each towel and close the door.
      Yes,  it's  been  my most productive year. Wine gets  better  if  it's
properly aged.
      I'm  not  in contest with anybody, have no thoughts about immortality,
don't  give  a damn about it. It's the ACTION while you're alive.  The  gate
springing  open in the sunlight, the horses plunging through the light,  all
the  jocks, brave little devils in their bright silks, going for  it,  doing
it. The glory is in the motion and the dare. Death be damned. It's today and
today and today. Yes.

     12/9/91 1:18 AM
      The  tide  ebbs.  I  sit  and stare at a paper  clip  for  5  minutes.
Yesterday,  coming  in on the freeway, it was evening going  into  darkness.
There  was  a  light  fog. Christmas was coming like a harpoon.  Suddenly  I
noticed  that  I was driving almost alone. Then in the road I  saw  a  large
bumper attached to a piece of grill. I avoided it in time, then looked to my
right.  There was a pile-up of cars, 4 or 5 cars but there was  silence,  no
movement,  nobody around, no fire, no smoke, no headlights. I was going  too
fast  to see if there were people in the cars. Then, at once, evening became
night.  Sometimes  there is no warning. Things occur in seconds.  Everything
changes. You're alive. You're dead. And things move on.
      We are paper thin. We exist on luck amid the percentages, temporarily.
And  that's  the  best  part and the worse part, the  temporal  factor.  And
there's  nothing you can do about it. You can sit on top of a  mountain  and
meditate  for  decades and it's not going to alter. You can  alter  yourself
into acceptability but maybe that's wrong too. Maybe we think too much. Feel
more, think less.
     All the cars in that pile-up seemed to be gray. Odd.
      I like the way philosophers break down the concepts and theories which
have  preceded  them. It's been going on for centuries. No, that's  not  the
way,  they  say. This is the way. It goes on and on and seems very sensible,
this  onwardness. The main problem for the philosophers is  that  they  must
humanize their language, make it more accessible, then the thoughts light up
better,  are  more  intersting still. I think that they are  learning  this.
Simplicity is the key.
      In  writing you must slide along. The words can be crippled and choppy
but if they slide along then a certain delight lights up everything. Careful
writing is deathly writing. I think Sherwood Anderson was one of the best at
playing  with words as if they were rocks, or bits of food to be  eaten.  He
PAINTED his words on paper. And they were so simple that you felt rushes  of
light,  doors  openin, walls glistening. You could see rugs  and  shoes  and
fingers. He had the words. Delightful. Yet, they were like bullets too. They
could  take  you  right out. Sherwood Anderson knew something,  he  had  the
instinct.  Hemingway  tried too hard. You could feel the  had  work  in  his
writing.  They  were  hard blocks stuck together. And Anderson  could  laugh
while  he  was  telling you something serious. Hemingway could never  laugh.
Anybody  who  writes standing up at 6 a.m. in the morning has  no  sense  of
humor. He wants to defeat something.
      Tired  tonight. Damn, I don't get enough sleep. I would love to  sleep
until noon but with the first post at 12:30, add the drive and getting  your
figures  ready, I have to leave here about 11 a.m., before the mailman  gets
here. And I'm seldom asleep until 2 a.m. or so. Get up a couple of times  to
piss.  One  of  the  cats  awakens me at 6 a.m. on the  dot,  morning  after
morning, he's got to go out. Then too, the lonelyhearts like to phone before
10  a.m. I don't answer, the machine takes the message. I mean, my sleep  is
broken. But if this is all I have to bitch about then I'm in grand shape.
      No  horses for the next 2 days. I won't be up until noon tomorrow  and
I'l  feel like a powerhouse, ten years younger. Hell, that's to laugh -- ten
years  younger would make me 61, you call that a break? Let me cry,  let  me
cry.
     It's 1 a.m. Why don't I stop now and get some sleep?

     1/18/92 11:59 PM
      Well,  I  move back and forth between the novel and the poem  and  the
racetrack  and I'm still alive. There isn't much going on at the track,  I'm
just  struck with humanity and there I am. Then there's the freeway, to  get
there and back. The freeway always reminds you of what most people are. It's
a  competitive society. They want you to lose so they can win.  It's  inbred
and much of it comes out on the freeway. The slow drivers want to block you,
the  fast drivers want to get around you. I hold it at 70 so I pass  and  am
passed.  The fast drivers I don't mind. I get out of their way and let  them
go.  It's  the slow ones who are the irritant, those who do 55 in  the  fast
lane. And sometimes you can get boxed in. And you see enough of the head and
the  neck of the driver ahead of you to take a reading. The reading is  that
this  person is asleep at the sould and at the same time embittered,  gross,
cruel and stupid.
      I  hear a voice now saying to me, "You are stupid to think like  that.
You are stupid one."
      There  are  always  those who will defend the  subnormals  in  society
because  they  don't realize it is that they too are subnormal.  We  have  a
subnormal  society and that's why they act as they do and do to  each  other
what  they do. But that's their business and I don't mind it except  that  I
have to live with them.
      I  recall once having dinner with a group of people. At a nearby table
there was another group of people. They talked loudly and kept laughing. But
their laughter was utterly false, forced. It went on and on.
      Finally,  I said to the people at our table, "It's pretty  bad,  isn't
it?"
      One of the people at our table turned to me, put on a sweet smile  and
said, "I like it when people are happy."
      I didn't respon. But I felt a dark black hole welling in my gut. Well,
hell.
      You  get  a  reading on people on the freeways. You get a  reading  on
people  at  dinner  tables. You get a reading on people on  tv.  You  get  a
reading on people in the supermarket, etc., etc. It's the same reading. What
can  you do? Duck and hold on. Pour another drink. I like it when people are
happy too. I just haven't seen very many.
      So, I got to the track today and took my seat. There was a guy wearing
a  red  cap backwards. One of those caps that the tracks give away. Giveaway
Day. He had his Racing Form and a harmonica. He picked up the harmonica  and
blew. He didn't know how to play it. He just blew. And it wasn't Schoenber's
12  to  scale  either. It was a 2 or 3 tone scale. He ran out  of  wind  and
picked up his Racing Form.
     In front of me sat the same 3 guys who were there all week. A guy about
60  who  always wore brown clothes and brown hat. Next to him was a  crooked
neck  and  round shoulders. Next to him was an oriental about  45  who  kept
smoking  cigarettes. Before each race they discussed which horse  they  were
going  to  bet. These were amazing bettors, much like the Crazy  Screamer  I
told  you  about before. I'll tell you why. I have sat behind them  for  two
weeks  now. And none of them has yet picked a winner. And they bet the short
odds too, I mean between 2 to 1 and 7 or 8 to 1. That's maybe 45 races times
3  selections. That's amazing statistic. Think about it. Say if each of them
just  picked  a  number  like  1 or 2 or 3 and stayed  with  it  they  would
automatically  pick  a winner. But by jumping around they  somehow  managed,
using  all their brain power and know-how, to keep on missing. Why  do  they
keep  coming  to the racetrack? Aren't they ashamed of their ineptness?  No,
there is always the next race. Someday they will hit. Big.
      You  must understand then, when I come from the track and off  of  the
freeway, why this computer looks so good to me? A clean screen to lay  words
on. My wife and my 9 cats seem like the geniuses of the world. They are.

     2/8/92 1:16 AM
      What  do  the writers do when they aren't writing? Me,  I  go  to  the
racetrack. Or in the early days, I starved or worked at gut-wrenching jobs.
      I stay away from writers now -- or people who call themselves writers.
But  from 1970 until about 1975 when I just decided to sit in one place  and
write or die, writers came by, all of them poets. POETS. And I discovered  a
curious  thing: none of them had any visible means of support. If  they  had
books  out they didn't sell. And if they gave poetry readings, few attended,
say  from  4 to 14 other POETS. But they all lived in fairly nice apartments
and  seemed to have plenty of time to sit on my couch and drink my  beer.  I
had  gotten the reputation in town of being the wild one, of having  parties
where untold things gappened and crazy women danced and broke things,  or  I
threew people off my porch or there were police raids or etc. and etc.  Much
of  this was true. But I also had to get the word down for my publisher  and
for  the  magazines  to  get the rent and the booze money,  and  this  meant
writing prose. But these... poets... only wrote poetry... I thought  it  was
thind  and pretentious stuff... but they went on with it, dressed themselves
in  a  fairly  nice manner, seened well-fed, and they had  all  this  couch-
sitting time and time to talk -- about their poetry and themselves. I  often
asked, "Listen, tell me, how do you make it?" They just sat there and smiled
at  me  and  drank my beer and waited for some of my crazy women to  arrive,
hoping  that they might somehow get some of it -- sex, admiration, adventure
or what the hell.
      It  was getting clear in my mind then that I would have to get rid  of
these  soft  toadies. And gradually, I found out their secret, one  by  one.
Most  often in the background, well hidden, was the MOTHER. The mother  took
care of these geniuses, got the rent and the food and the cloghing.
      I  remembered once, on a rare sojourn from my place, I was sitting  in
this  POET's apartment. It was quite dull, nothing to drink. He sat speaking
of  how  unfair it was that he wasn't more widely recognized.  The  editors,
everybody was conspiring against him. He pointed his finger at me: "You too,
you told Martin not to publish me!" It wasn't true. Then he went to bitching
and  babbling about other things. Then the phone rang. He picked it  up  and
spoke guardedly and quietly. He hung up and turned to me.
     "It's my mother, she's coming over. You have to leave!"
     "It's all right, I'd like to meet your mother."
     "No! No! She's horrible! You have to leave! Now! Hurry!"
     I took the elevator down and out. And wrote that one off.
      There  was another one. His mother bought him his food, his  car,  his
insurance, his rent and even wrote some of his stuff. Unbelievable.  And  it
had gone on for decades.
      There  was  another fellow, he always seemed very calm,  well-fed.  He
taught  a poetry workshop at a church every Sunday afternoon. He had a  nice
apartment.  He was a member of the communist party. Let's call him  Fred.  I
asked  an  older  lady  who attended his workshop and admired  him  greatly,
"Listen, how does Fred make it?" "Oh," she said, "Fred doesn't want  anybody
to  know  because  he's  very private that way but he  makes  his  money  by
scrubbing food trucks."
     "Food trucks?"
      "Yes,  you  know  those  wagons that go about  dispensing  coffee  and
sandwiches  at break time and lunch time at work places, well,  Fred  scrubs
those food trucks."
      A  couple  of years went by and then it was discovered that Fred  also
owned  a couple of apartment houses and that he lived mainly off the  rents.
When  I  found  this  out I got drunk one night and  drove  over  to  Fred's
apartment. It was located over a little theater. Very arty stuff.  I  jumped
out of my car and rang the bell. He wouldn't answer. I knew he was up there.
I  had seen his shadow moving behind the curtains. I went back to my car and
started  honking the horn and yelling, "Hey, Fred, come on out!" I  threw  a
beer bottle at one of his windows. It bounced off. That got him. He came out
on his little balcony and peered down at me. "Bukowski, go away!".
      "Fred,  come  on down here and I'll kick your ass, you communist  land
owner!"
      He ran back inside. I stood there and waited for him. Nothing. Then  I
got  the  idea that he was calling the police. I had seen enough of them.  I
got into my car and drove back to my place.
     Another poet lived in this house down by the waterfront. Nice house. He
never had a job. I kept after him, "How do you make it? How do you make it?"
Finally,  he gave in. "My parents own property and I collect the  rents  for
them. They pay me a salary." He got a damned good salary, I imagine. Anyhow,
at least he told me.
      Some never do. There was this other guy. He wrote fair poetry but very
little  of  it.  He always had his nice apartment. Or he was  going  off  to
Hawaii  or somewhere. He was one of the most relaxed of them all. Always  in
new  and  freshly  pressed  clothing, new shoes. Neved  needed  a  shave,  a
haircut, had bright flashing teeth. "Come on, baby, how do you make it?"  he
never let on. He didn't even smile. He just stood there silently.
      Then there's another type that lives on handouts. I wrote a poem about
one of them but never sent it out because I finally felt sorry for him. Here
is some of it jammed together:
      Jack with the hair hanging, Jack demanding money, Jack of the big gut,
Jack of the loud, loud voice, Jack of the trade, Jack who prances before the
ladies,  Jack  who thinks he's a genius, Jack who pukes, Jack who  badmounts
the  lucky,  Jack getting older and older, Jack still demanding money,  Jack
sliding down the beanstalk, Jack who talks about it but doesn't do it,  Jack
who  gets away with murder, Jack who jacks, Jack who talks of the old  days,
Jack  who  talks and talks, Jack with the hand out, Jack who terrorizes  the
weak,  Jack  the  embittered, Jack of the coffee shops, Jack  screaming  for
recognition,  Jack  who  never has a job, Jack  who  totally  overrates  his
potential, Jack who keeps screaming about his unrecognized talent, Jack  who
blames everbody else.

      You  know who Jack is, you saw him yesterday, you'll see him tomorrow,
you'll see him next week.

     Wanting it without doing it, wanting it free.
     Wanting fame, wanting women, wanting everything.
     A world full of Jacks sliding down the beanstalk.
      Now  I'm  tired of writing about poets. But I will add that  they  are
hurting themselves by living as poets instead of as something else. I worked
as a common laborer until I was 50. I was jammed in with the people. I never
claimed  to  be a poet. Now I am not saying that working for a living  is  a
grand  thing. In most cases it is a horrible thing. And often you must fight
to  keep a horrible job because there are 25 guys standing behind you  ready
to  take the same job. Of course, it's senseless, of course it flattens  you
out. But being in that mess, I think, taught me to lay off the bullshit when
I did write. I think you have get your face in the mud now and then, I think
you  have  to know what a jail is, a hospital is. I think you have  to  know
what  it feels like to go without food for 4 or 5 days. I think that  living
with  insane women is good for the backbone. I think you can write with  joy
and  release after you've been in he vise. I only say this because  all  the
poets I have met have been soft jellyfish, sycophants. They have nothing  to
write about except their selfigh nonendurance.
     Yes, I stay away from the POETS. Do you blame me?

     3/16/92 12:53 AM
      I  have no idea what causes it. It's just there: a certain feeling for
writers  of  the past. And my feelings aren't even accurate, they  are  just
mine,  almost entirely invented. I think of Sherwood Anderson, for instance,
as  a little fellow, slightly slump-shouldered. he was probably straight and
tall.  No  matter.  I  see him my way. (I've never seen  a  photo  of  him.)
Dostoevsky  I  see  as a bearded fellow on the heavy side  with  dark  green
smoldering  eyes.  First he was too heavy, then too  thin,  the  too  heavy.
Nonsense, surely, but I like my nonsense. I even see Dostoevsky as a  fellow
who  lusted  for little girls. Faulkner, I see in a rather dim  light  as  a
crank and fellow with bad breath. Gorky, I see as a sneak drunk. Tolstoy  as
a  man  who went into rages over nothing at all. I see Hemingway as a fellow
who  practiced ballet behind closed doors. I see Celine as a fellow who  had
problems sleeping. I see e.e. cumming as a great pool player. I couldn't  go
on and on.
      Mainly I had these visions when I was a starving writer, half-mad, and
unable  to  fit  into  society. I had very little food but  had  much  time.
Whoever  the  writers  were,  they  were  magic  to  me.  They  opened  door
differently.  They needed a stiff drink upon awakening. Life  was  too  god-
damned much for them. Each day was like walking in wet concrete. I made them
my  heroes.  I fed upon them. My ideas of them supported me in  my  nowhere.
Thinking  about them was much better than reading them. Like D. H. Lawrence.
What  a  wicked little guy. He knew so much that it just kept him pissed-off
all the time. Lovely, lovely. And Aldous Huxley... brain power to spare.  He
knew so much it gave him headaches.
     I would stretch out on my starvation bed and think about these fellows.
     Literature was so... Romantic. Yeah.
      But  the  composers  and  painters were good  too,  alway  going  mad,
suiciding,  doing strange and obnoxious things. Suicide seemed such  a  good
idea.  I  even tried it a few times myself, failed but came close,  gave  it
some  good tries. Now here I am almost 72 years old. My heroes are long past
gone and I've had to live with others. Some of the new creators, some of the
newly famous. They aren't the same to me. I look at them, listen to them and
I  think,  is  this  all  there is? I mean, they  look  comfortable...  they
bitch...  but they look COMFORTABLE. There's no wildness. The only ones  who
seem  wild are those who have failed as artists and believe that the failure
is the fault of outside forces. And they create badly, horribly.
     I have nobody to focus on anymore. I can't even focus on myself. I used
to  be in and out of jails, I used to break down doors, smash windows, drink
29  day  a  month. Now I sit in front of this computer with  the  radio  on,
listening  to classical music. I'm not even drinking tonight.  I  am  pacing
myself. For what? Do I want to live to be 80, 90? I don't mind dying...  but
not this year, all right?
      I  don't know, it just was different back then. He writers seemed more
like...  writers.  Things were done. The Black Sun Press. The  Crosbys.  And
damned  if  once I didn't cross back into that age. Caresse Crosby published
one  of my stories in her Portfolio magazine along with Sartre, I think, and
Henry  Miller  and I think, maybe, Camus. I don't have the mag  now.  People
steal  from me. They take my stuff when they drink with me. That's why  more
and  more I am alone. Anyhow, somebody else must also miss the Roaring  20's
and Gertrude Stein and Picasso... James Joyce, Lawrence and the gang.
      To  me  it seems that we're not getting through like we used to.  It's
like we've used up the options, it's like we can't do it anymore.
      I  sit here, light a cigarette, listen to the music. My health is good
and  I  hope  that I am writing as well or better than ever. But  everything
else  I read seems so... practiced... it's like a well-learned style.  Maybe
I've  read  too  much,  maybe I've read too long. Also,  after  decades  and
decades of writing (and I've written a boat load) when I read another writer
I  believe I can tell exactly when he's faking, the lies jump out, the slick
polish  grates...  I  can  guess  what  he  next  line  will  be,  the  next
paragraph... There's no flash, no dash, no change-taking. It's a job they've
learned, like fixing a leaky faucet.
      It was better for me when I could imagine greatness in others, even if
it wasn't always there.
      In  my mind I saw Gorky in a Russian flophouse asking for tobacco from
the  fellow  next to him. I saw Robinson Jeffers talking to a horse.  I  saw
Faulkner starting at the last drink in the bottle. Of course, of course,  it
was foolish. Young is foolish and old is the fool.
      I've  had  to  adjust. But for all of us, even now, the next  line  is
always  there  and  it may be the line that finally breaks through,  finally
says it. We can sleep on that during the slow nights and hope for the best.
      We're probably as good now as those bastards back then were. And  some
of the young are thinking of me as I thought of them. I know, I get letters.
I  read  them and throw them away. These are the towering Nineties.  There's
the next line. And the line after that. Until there are no more.
     Yeah. One more cigarete. Then I think I'll take a bath and go to sleep.

     4/16/92 12:39 AM
      Bad day at the track. On the drive in, I always mull over which system
I am going to use. I must have 6 or 7. And I certainly picked the wrong one.
Still,  I will never lose my ass and my mind at the track. I just don't  bet
that  much.  Years  of poverty have made me wary. Even my winning  days  are
hardly stupendous. Yet, I'd rather be right than wrong, especially when  you
give  up  hours of your life. One can feel time actually being murdered  out
there.  Today, they were approaching the gate for the 2nd race.  There  were
still 3 minutes to go and the horses and riders were slowly approaching. For
some  reason, ti seemed an agonizingly long time for me. When you're in your
70's it hurts more to have somebody pissing on your time. Of course, I know,
I had put myself into a position to be pissed upon.
      I  used to go to the night greyhound races in Arizona. Now, they  knew
what they were doing there. Just turn your back to get a drink and there was
another  race  going off. No 30 minute waiting periods. Zip, zip,  they  ran
them one after the other. It was refreshing. The night air was cold and  the
action  was continuous. You didn't believe that somebody was trying  to  saw
off  your  balls between races. And after it was all over, you weren't  worn
down.  You  could  drink  the remainder of the night  and  fight  with  your
girlfriend.
      But  at  the horse races it's hell. I stay isolated. I don't  talk  to
anybody. That helps. Well, the mutuel clerks know me. I've got to go to  the
windows,  use my voice. Over the years, they get to know you.  And  most  of
them  are  fairly  decent people. I think that their years of  dealing  with
humanity has given them certain insights. For instance, they know that  most
of the human race is one large piece of crap. Still, I also keep my distance
from  the  mutuel clerks. By keeping counsel with myself, I get an  edge.  I
could stay home and do this. I could lock the door and fiddle with paints or
something.  But somehow, I've got to get out, and make sure that almost  all
humanity is still a large piece of crap. As if they would change! Hey, baby,
I've  got  to  be crazy. Yet there is something out there, I mean,  I  don't
think  about  dying out there, for example, you feel too  stupid  being  out
there  to be able to think. I've taken a notebook, thought, well, I'll write
a  few  things between races. Impossible. The air is flat and heavy, we  are
all  voluntary members of a concentration camp. When I get home, then I  can
muse about dying. Just a little. Not too much. I don't worry about dying  or
feel sorry about dying. It just seems like a lousy job. When? Next Wednesday
night? Or when I'm asleep? Or because of the next horrible hangover? Traffic
accident?  It's a load, it's something that's got to be done. And I'm  going
out  without  the God-belief. That'll be good, I can face it head  on.  It's
something you have to do like putting your shoes on in the morning. I  think
I'm  going  to  miss writing. Writing is better than drinking.  And  writing
while  you're drinking, that's always made the walls dance. Maybe there's  a
hell, what? All the poets will be there reading their works and I will  have
to listen. I will be drowned in their peening vanity, their overflowing self-
esteem. If there is a hell, that will be my hell: poet after poet reading on
and on...
      Anyway, a particularly bad day. This system that usually worked didn't
work.  The gods shuffle the deck. Time is mutilated and you are a fool.  But
time  is  made  to be wasted. What are you going to do about it?  You  can't
always  be roaring full steam. You stop and you go. You hit a high and  then
you  fall  into a black pit. do you have a cat? Or cats? They  sleep,  baby.
They can sleep 2% hours a day and they look beautiful They know that there's
nothing to get excited about. The next meal. And a little something to  kill
now  and then. When I'm being torn by the forces, I just look at one or more
of my cats. There are 9 of them. I just look at one of them sleeping or half-
sleeping  and I relax. Writing is also my cat. Writing lets me face  it.  It
chills  me out. For a while anyhow. Then my wires get crossed and I have  to
do it all over again. I can't understand writers who decide to stop writing.
How do they chill out?
     Well, the track was dull and deathly out there today but here I am back
home and I'll be there tomorrow, most probably. How do I manage it?
      Some  of it is the power of routine, a power that holds most of us.  A
place to go, a thing to do. We are trained from th beginning. Move out,  get
into  it.  Maybe there's something interesting out there? What  an  ignorant
dream. It's like when I used to pick up women in bars. I'd think, maybe this
is  the one. Another routine. Yet, even during the sex act, I'd think,  this
is another routine. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I felt ridiculous but
I  went ahead anyhow. What else could I do? Well, I should have crawled  off
and said, "Look, baby, we are being very foolish here. We are just tools  of
nature."
     "What do you mean?"
      "I  mean,  baby, you ever watched two flies fucking or something  like
that?"
     "YOU'RE CRAZY! I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!"
     We can't examine ourselves too closely or we'll stop living, stop doing
everything. Like the wise men who just sit on a rock and don't move. I don't
know  if that's so wise either. They discard the obvious but something makes
them  discard it. In a sense, they are one-fly-fucking. There's  no  escape,
action or inaction. We just have to write ourselves off as a loss: any  move
on the on the board leads to checkmate.
     So, it was a bad day at the track today, I got a bad taste in the mouth
of my soul. But I'll go tomorrow. I'm afraid not to. Because when I get back
the  words  crawling across this computer screen really fascinate  my  weary
ass.  I leave it so that I can come back to it. Of course, of course. That's
it. Isn't it?

     6/26/92 12:34 AM
     I have probably written more and better in the past 2 years than at any
time  in  my life. It's as if from over 5 decades of doing it, I might  have
gotten  close to really doing it. Yet, in the past 2 months I have begun  to
feel  a  weariness. The weariness is mostly physical, yet it's also a  touch
spiritual.  It could be that I am ready to go into decline. It's a  horrible
thought, of course, The ideal was to continue until the moment of my  death,
not  to  fade  away. In 1989 I overcame TB. This year it  has  been  an  eye
operation  that has not as yet worked out. And a painful right  let,  ankle,
foot.  Small things. Bits of skin cancer. Death nipping at my heels, letting
me  know.  I'm  and old fart, that's all. Well, I couldn't drink  myself  to
death. I came close but I didn't. Now I deserve to live with what is left.
      So, I haven't written for 3 nights. Should I go mad? Even at my lowest
times I can feel the words bubbling inside of me, getting ready. I am not in
a contest. I never wanted it, that's all. And I had to get the word down the
way  I wanted it, that's all. And I had to get the words down or be overcome
by something worse than death. Words not as precious things but as necessary
things.
      Yet  when  I begin to doubt my ability to work the word I simply  read
another  writer  and  then I know that I have nothing  to  worry  about.  My
contest  is  only  with myself: to do it right, with  power  and  force  and
delight and gamble. Otherwise, forget it.
      I have been wise enough to remain isolated. Visitors to this house are
rare.  My  9  cats run like mad when a human arrives. And my wife,  too,  is
getting to be more and more like me. I don't want this for her. It's natural
for  me. But for Linda, no. I'm glad when she takes the car and goes off  to
some gathering. After all, I have my go-damned racetrack. I can always write
about  the  racetrack,  that great empty hole of  nowhere.  I  go  there  to
sacrifice myself, to mutilate the hours, to murder them. The hours  must  be
killed.  While you are waiting. The perfect hours must be killed. While  you
are  waiting. The perfect hours are the ones at this machine. But  you  must
have  impefect hours to get perfect hours. You must kill ten hours  to  make
two  hours  live. What you must be careful of is not to kill ALL the  hours,
ALL the years.
      You  fix  yourself  up to be a writer by doing the instinctive  things
which  feed you and the word, which protect you against death in  life.  For
each, it changes. Once for me it meant very heavy drinking, drinking to  the
point of madness. It sharpened the word for me, brought it out. And I needed
danger.  I  needed to put myself into dangerous situations. With  men.  With
women.  With automobiles. With gambling. With starvation. With anything.  It
fed the word. I had decades of that. Now it has changed. What I need now  is
more  subtle, more invisible. It's a feeling in the air. Words spoken, words
heard. Things seen. I still need a few drinks. But I am now into nuances and
shadows. I am fed words by things that I am hardly aware of. This is good. I
write a different kind of crap now. Some have noticed.
     "You have broken through," is mainly what they tell me.
      I  am  aware of what they sense. I feel it too. The words have  gotten
simpler  yet  warmer,  darker. I am being fed from new sources.  Being  near
death  is  energizing. I have all the advantages. I can see and feel  things
that  are hidden from the young. I have gone from the power of youth to  the
power of age. There will be no decline. Uh uh. Now, pardon me, I must got to
be, it's 12:55 a.m. Talking the night off. Have your laugh while you can...

     8/24/92 12:28 AM
      Well, I've been 72 years old for 8 days and nights now and I'll  never
be able to say that again.
      It's  been  a bad couple of months. Weary. Physically and spiritually.
Death  means nothing. It's walking around with your ass dragging, it's  when
the words don't come flying form the machine, there's the gyp.
      Now  in  my  lower  lip  and under the lower lip,  there  is  a  large
puffiness.  And  I have no energy. I didn't go to the track  today.  I  just
stayed in bed. Tired, tired. The Sunday crowds at the track are the worst. I
have  problems with the human face. I find it very difficult to look  at.  I
find  the sum total of each person's life written there and it is a horrible
sight. When one sees thousands of faces in one day, it's tiring from the top
of  the  head to the toes. And all through the gut. Sundays are so  crowded.
It's  amateur day. They scream and curse. They rage. Then they go  limp  and
leave, broke. What did they expect?
      I  had  a  cataract operation on my right eye a few  months  ago.  The
operation  was  not nearly as simple as the misinformation I  gathered  from
people  who  claimed to have had eye operations. I heard my wife talking  to
ther  mother  on the telephone: "You say it was over in a few  minutes?  And
that  you drove your car home afterwards?" Another old guy told me, "Oh it's
nothing,  it's  over  in  a flash and you just go  about  your  business  as
normal."  Others spoke about the operation in an off-hand manner. It  was  a
walk  in the park. Now, I didn't ask for any of these people for information
about  the operation, they just came out with it. And after a while, I began
to  believe it. Although I still wonder how a thing as delicate as  the  eye
could  be treated more or less like cutting a toenail. On my first visit  to
the doctor, he examined the eye and said that I needed an operation. "O.k.,"
I  said,  "let's do it." "What?" he asked. "Let's do it now. Let's rock  and
roll!"  "Wait," he said, "first we must make an appointment with a hospital.
Then  there are other preparations. First, we want to show you a movie about
the  operation. It's only about 15 minutes long." "The operation?" "No,  the
movies." What happens is that they take out the complete lens of the eye and
replace it with an artifical lens. The lens is stitched in and the eye  must
adjust  and recover. After about 3 weeks the stitches are removed.  It's  no
walk  in  the  park and the operation takes much longer than  "a  couple  of
minutes."  Anyhow,  after  it was all over, my wife's  mother  said  it  was
probably  an  after-operational procedure she was thinking of. And  the  old
guy?  I asked him, "How long did it take for your sight to really get better
after  your eye operation?" "I'm not so sure I had an operation,"  he  said.
Maybe  I got this fat lip from drinking from the cat's water bowl? I feel  a
little  better  tonight. Six days a week at the racetrack can  burn  anybody
out.  Try is some time. Then come in and work on your novel. Or maybe  death
is  giving  me  some  signs? The other day I was thinking  about  the  world
without  me.  There is the world going on doing what it does.  And  I'm  not
there.  Very  odd. Think of the garbage truck coming by and picking  up  the
garbage  and I'm not there. Or the newspaper sits in the drive and  I'm  not
there  to  pick it up. Impossible. And worse, some time after I'm dead,  I'm
going  to  be truly discovered. All those who were afraid of me or hated  me
when  I  was  alive will suddenly embrace me. My words will  be  everywhere.
Clubs  and societies will be formed. It will be sickening. A movie  will  be
made of my life. I will be made a much more courageous and talented man tahn
I  am.  Much  more. It will be enough to make the gods puke. The human  race
exaggerates  everything:  its  heroes,  its  enemies,  its  importance.  The
fuckers. There, I feel better. God-damned human race. There, I feel  better.
The  night is cooling off. Maybe I'll pay the gas bill. I remember in  south
central  L.A. they shot a lady named Love for not paying her gas  bill.  The
co.  wanted  to  shut it off. Forget what with. Maybe a shovel.  Cops  came.
Don't  remember how it worked. Think she reached for something in her apron.
They  shot  and killed her. All right, all right, I'll pay the gas  bill.  I
worry  about my novel. It's about a detective. But I keep getting  him  into
these  almost  impossible situations and then I have  to  work  him  out.  I
sometimes think about how to get him out while I'm at the racetrack.  And  I
know  that  my editor- publisher is curious. Maybe he thinks the work  isn't
literary. I say that anything I do is literary even if I try not to make  it
literary.  He  should  trust me by now. Well, if he doesn't  want  it,  I'll
unload  it  elsewhere. It will sell as well as anything  I've  written,  not
because  it's better but because it's just as good and my crazy readers  are
ready  for it. Look, maybe a good night's sleep tonight and I'll wake up  in
the  morning  without this fat lip. Can you imagine me  leaning  toward  the
teller with this big lip and saying, "20 win on the 6 horse?" Sure. I  know.
He  wouldn't  have even noticed. My wife asked me, "Didn't you  always  have
that?"  Jesus  Christ. Do you know that cats sleep 20 hours out  of  24?  No
wonder they look better than I.

     8/28/92 12:40 AM
      There are thousands of traps in life and most of us fall into many  of
them.  The idea though, is to stay out of as many of them as possible. Doing
so helps you remain as alive as you might until you die...
      The  letter arrived from the offices of one of the network  television
stations. It was quite simple, stating that this fellow, let's call him  Joe
Singer, wants to come by. To talk about certain possibilities. On page 1  of
the  letter  were  stuck 2 one hundred dollar bills. On  page  2  there  was
another hundred. I was on the way to the racetrack. I found that the hundred
dollar  bills  peeled off of the pages nicely without damage.  There  was  a
phone number. I decided to call Joe Singer that night after the races.
      Which I did. Joe was casual, easy. The idea, he said, was to create  a
series  for  tv  based on a writer like myself. An old  guy  who  was  still
writing, drinking, playing the horses.
     "Why don't we get together and talk about it?" he asked.
     "You'll have to come here," I said, "at night."
     "O.k.," he said, "when?"
     "Night after next."
     "Fine. You know who I want to get to play you?"
     "Who?"
      He mentioned an actor, let's call him Harry Dane. I always liked Harry
Dane.
     "Great," I said, "and thanks for the 300."
     "We wanted to get your attention."
     "You did."
      Well,  the  night  came  around and there was Joe  Singer.  He  seemed
likeable  enough, intelligent, easy. We drank and talked, about  horses  and
various  things. Not much about the television series. Linda, my  wife,  was
with us.
     "But tell us more about the series," she said.
     "It's all right, Linda," I said, "we're just relaxing..."
      I  felt  Joe Singer had more or less come by to see if I was crazy  or
not.
      "All  right,"  he said reaching into his briefcase,  "here's  a  rough
idea..."
     He handed me 4 or 5 sheets of paper. It was mostly a description of the
main  character and I thought they had gotten me down fairly well.  The  old
writer lived with this young girl just out of college, she did all his dirty
work, lined up his readings and stuff like that.
     "The station wanted this young girl in there, you know," said Joe.
     "Yeah," I said.
     Linda didn't say anything.
     "Well," said Joe, "you look this over again. There are also some ideas,
plot  ideas, each episode will have a diferent slant, you know, but it  will
all be based on your character."
     "Yeah," I said. But I was beginning to get a bit apprehensive.
      We  drank  another  couple of hours. I don't remember  much  abou  the
conversation. Small talk. And the night ended...
      The  next  day after the track I turned to the page about the  episode
ideas.  1. Hank's craving for a lobster dinner is thwarted by animal  rights
activists.  2. Secretary ruins Hank's chances with a poetry groupie.  3.  To
honor  Hemingway, Hank bangs a broad named Millie whose husband,  a  jockey,
wants  to pay Hank to keep banging. There must be a catch. 4. Hank allows  a
young  male  artist to paint his portrait and is painted into a corner  into
revealing his own homosexual experience. 5. A friend of Hank's wants him  to
invest in his latest scheme. An industrial use for recycled vomit. I got Joe
on the phone.
      "Jesus, man, what's about a homosexual experience? I haven't had any."
"Well, we don't have to use that one." "Let's not. Listen, I'll talk to  you
later,  Joe." I hung up. Things were getting strange. I phoned  Harry  Dane,
the actor. He'd been over to the place two or three times. He had this great
weatherbeaten face and he talked straight. He had few affectations. I  liked
him. "Harry," I said, "there's this tv outfit, channel -- they want to do  a
series based on me and they want you to play me. You heard from them?" "No."
"I  thought  I  might get you and this guy together and see  what  happens."
"Channel  what?"  I  told  him  the  channel.  "But  that's  commercial  tv,
censorship,  commercials, laugh tracks." "This guy Joe  Singer  claims  they
have  a  lot of freedom with what they can do." "It's censorship, you  can't
offend  the  advertisers." "What I like most is that he wanted you  for  the
lead.  Why  don't you come to my place and meet him?" "I like your  writing,
Hank,  if  we could get, say, HBO maybe we could do it right." "Well,  yeah.
But  why don't you come over, see what he has to say? I haven't seen you for
a  while." "That's right. Well, I'll come but it will mainly to see you  and
Linda."
      "Fine.  How  about the night after next? I'll set it up."  "O.k.,"  he
said.  I  phoned Joe Singer. "Joe. Night after next, 9 p.m. I've  got  Harry
Dane coming over."
     "O.k., great. We can send a limo for him."
     "Would he be alone in the limo?"
     "Maybe. Or maybe some of our people would be in it."
     "Well, I don't know. Let me call you back..."
      "Harry,  they are trying to suck you in, they want to send a limo  for
you."
     "Would it be just for me?"
     "He wasn't sure."
     "Can I have his phone number?"
     "Sure."
     And that was it.
      When  I  came in after the track the next day Linda said, "Harry  Dane
phoned.  We talked about the tv thing. He asked if we needed money.  I  told
him we didn't."
     "Is he still coming by?"
     "Yes."
     I came in a little early from the track the following day. I decided to
hit  the  Jacuzzi. Linda was out, probably buying libations for the meeting.
I,  myself,  was  getting a little scared about the tv  series.  They  could
really  fuck  me  over. Old writer does this. Old writer  does  that.  Laugh
track. Old writer gets drunk, misses poetry meeting. Well, that wouldn't  be
so  bad.  But I wouldn't want to write he crap, so writing wouldn't be  that
good.  Here  I  had  written for decades in small rooms,  sleeping  on  park
benches,  sitting  in bars, working all the stupid jobs,  meanwhile  writing
exactly  as  I  wanted  to and felt I had to. My work  was  finally  getting
recognized. And I was still writing the way I wanted to and felt that I  had
to.  I  was  still  writing to keep from going crazy, I was  still  writing,
trying  to  explain this god-damned life to myself. And  here  I  was  being
talked into a tv series on commecial tv. All I had fought so hard for  could
be  laughed off the boards by some sitcom series with a laugh track.  Jesus,
Jesus.
      I  got  undressed and stepped outside to the Jacuzzi. I  was  thinking
about  the  tv series, my past life, now and everything else. I  wasn't  too
aware. I stepped into the Jacuzzi at the wrong end.
      I realized it the moment I stepped in. There weren't any steps at that
end. It happened quickly. There was a small platform further in built to sit
on. My right foot caught that, slipped off, and I was thrown off balance.
      You're  going  to hit your head against the edge of the Jacuzzi,  went
through my mind.
      I  concetrated on pushing my head forward as I fell, letting  all  the
rest  go to hell. My right leg took the brunt of the fall, I twisted it  but
managed  to keep my head from hitting the edge. Then I just floated  in  the
bubbling water feeling the shots of pain in my right leg. I'd ben having leg
pains there anyhow, now it was really torn up. I felt foolish about it  all.
I could have knocked myself out. I could have drowned. Linda would have come
back to find me floating and dead.
     FAMOUS WRITER, FORMER SKID ROW POET AND DRUNK
     FOUND DEAD IN HIS JACUZZI. HE HAD JUST SIGNED
     CONTRACT FOR A SITCOM BASED UPON HIS LIFE.
      That's  not even a ignoble ending. That is just being shit on entirely
by the gods.
     I managed to get out of Jacuzzi and make my way into the house. I could
barely  walk. Each step on the right leg brought a mighty pain  up  the  let
from the ankle to the knee. I hobbled toward the refrigerator and pulled out
a beer...
      Harry  Dane arrived first. He had come in his own car. We brought  out
the  wine and I began pouring them. By the time Joe Singer arrived, we'd had
a  few.  I made the introductions. Joe laid out the general format  for  the
proposed  series for Harry. Harry was smoking, and drinking his wine  pretty
fast.
     "Yeah, yeah," he said, "but a sound track? And Hank and I would have to
have   total  control  over  the  material.  Then,  I  don't  know.  There's
censorship..."
     "Censorship? What censorship?" asked Joe.
      "Sponsors, you have to please the sponsors. There's a limit on how far
you can go with material."
     "We'll have total freedom," said Joe.
     "You can't have," said Harry.
     "Laugh tracs are awful," said Linda.
     "Yeah," I said.
      "Then  too," said Harry, "I've been in a tv series. It's  a  drag,  it
takes  hours and hours a day, it's worse that shooting a movie. It's a  hard
work."
     Joe didn't answer.
      We  all  went  on drinking. A couple of hours passed. The  same  thing
seemed  to be said over and over again. Harry saying maybe we should  go  to
HBO.  And that laugh tracks were awful. And Joe saying that everything would
be  all right, that there was plenty of freedom on commercial tv, that times
had  changed.  It was really boring, really awful. Harry was really  pouring
down  the wine. Then he got into what was wrong with the world and the  main
causes  of it. He had a certain line he repeated quite often. It was a  good
line. Unfortunately, it was so good that I have forgotten it. But Harry went
on.
      All  of  a sudden Joe singer leaped up. "Well, damn it, you guys  have
made  a lot of lousy movies! Tv has done some good things! Everything we  do
isn't rotten! You guys keep on turning out crappy movies!"
     Then he into the bathroom.
     Harry looked at me and grinned. "Hey, he got mad, didn't he?"
     "Yeah, Harry."
      I  poured some more wine. We sat and waited. Joe Singer stayed in  the
bathroom a long time. When he came out, Harry stood there talking to him.  I
couldn't  hear  what was being said. I think Harry felt sorry  for  him.  It
wasn't  long  after  that,  Singer started  gathering  his  stuff  into  his
briefcase. He walked to the door, then looked back at me, "I'll phone  you,"
he said.
     "O.k., Joe"
     Then he was gone.
      Linda, I and Harry kept on drinking. Harry went on with what was wrong
with  the  world, repeating his good line which I can't remember. We  didn't
talk too much about the proposed tv series. When Harry left we worried about
his  driving. We said he could stay. He declined. He said he could make  it.
Luckily, he did.
     Joe Singer phoned the next evening.
      "Listen, we don't need that guy. He doesn't want to work. We  can  get
somebody else."
      "But,  Joe,  one  of the main reasons I was interested  at  first  was
because of the possibility of Harry Dane."
      "We  can get somebody else. I'll write you, I'll send you a list,  I'm
going to work on it."
     "I don't know, Joe..."
      "I'll  write  you. And listen, I talked to the people and  they  said,
o.k., no laugh track. And they even said it would be o.k. to go to HBO. That
surprised  me  because I work for them, I don't work for HBO.  Anyhow,  I'll
send you a list of actors...
     "All right, Joe..."
     I was stuck in the web. Now I wanted out but I didn't quite know how to
tell him. It surprised me, I was usually very good at getting rid of people.
I  felt  guilty because he had probably put in a lot of work on  the  thing.
And,  originally, in the first flush of things, the idea of a  series  based
mostly  upon  myself had probably appealed to my vanity. But now  it  didn't
seem like a good thing. I felt crappy about the whole thing.
      A  couple  of days later the photos of the actors arrived, a  mass  of
them,  and the preferred ones were circled. The agent's phone number was  by
each  actor's photo. I was sickened by looking at those faces, most of  them
smiling.   The  faces  were  bland,  empty,  very  Hollywood,  quite   quite
horrifying.
     Along with the photos was a short note:
      "... going on a 3 week vacation. When I get back I am really going  to
kick this thing into gear..."
     The faces did it to me. I couldn't handle it any longer. I sat down and
let go at the computers.
      "...I've  really been thinking about your project(s) and,  frankly,  I
can't  do  it. It would mean the end of my life as I have lived it and  have
wanted  to  live  it. It's just too big an intrusion into my  existence.  It
would  make  me  very  unhappy, depressed. This feeling has  been  gradually
coming  over me but I just didn't quite know how to explain it to you.  When
you  and harry Dane had a falling out the other night, I felt great, I felt,
now,  it's over. But you bounce right back with a new list of actors. I want
out,  that  sense grew stronger and stronger as things went  along.  Nothing
against you, you are an intellingetn young man who wants to pump some  fresh
blood into the tv scene -- but let it not be mine. You may not undestand  my
concern  but,  believe me, it's real, damned real. I should be honored  that
you  want  to  display my life to the masses but, really,  I  am  more  than
terrorized  by the thought, I feel as if my very life were being threatened.
I  have to get out. I haven't been able to sleep nights, I haven't been able
to think, I haven't been able to do anything.
     Please, no phone calls, no letters. Nothing can change this.

      The next day on the way to the racetrack I dropped the letter into the
mailbox.  I felt reborn. I might still have to fight some more to get  free.
But  I'd  go to court. Anything. Somehow, I felt sorry for Joe Singer.  But,
damn it all, I was free again.
     On the freeway I turned on the radion and lucked onto some Mozart. Life
could be good at times but sometimes some of that was up to us.

     8/30/92 1:30 AM
      Was  going down the scalator at the track after the 6th race when  the
waiter saw me. "You going home now?" he asked?
     "I wouldn't do that to you, amigo," I told him.
      The  poor fellow had to bring the food from the track kitchen  to  the
upper floors, carrying huge amounts of trays. When their clients ran out  on
them  they had to pay the tab. Some of the players sat four to a table.  The
waiters  could work all day and still owe the track money. And  the  crowded
days were the worst, the waiters couldn't watch everybody. And when they did
get paid the horseplayers tipped badly.
      I  went down to the first floor and stepped outside, stood in the sun.
It  was  great out there. Maybe I'd just come to the track and stand in  the
sun.  I  seldom  thought about writing out there but I did then.  I  thought
about  something  that  I had recently read, that I was  probably  the  best
selling  poet  in  America and the most influential, the  most  copied.  How
strange. Well, to hell with that. All that counted was the next time  I  sat
down  to  the computer. If I could still do it, I was alive, if I  coulnd't,
everything that preceded meant little to me. But what was I doing,  thinking
about writing? I was cracking. I didn't even think about writing when I  was
writing.  Then I heard the call to post, turned around, walked  in  and  got
back on the escalator. Going up, I passed a man who owed me money. He ducked
his  head down. I pretended not to see him. It didn't do any good after he'd
paid  me,  he only borrowed it back. And old guy had come up to  me  earlier
that  day:  "Gimme 60 cents!" That gave him enough for a two buck  bet,  one
more  chance to dream. It was a sad god-damned place but almost every  place
was.  There was no place to go. Well, there was, you could go to  your  room
and  close  the  door but then your wife got depressed. Or  more  depressed.
America  was the Land of Depressed Wives. And it was the fault of  the  men.
Sure. Who else was around? You couldn't blame the birds, the dogs, the cats,
the worms, the mice, the spiders, the fish, the etc. It was the men. And the
men  couldn't allow themselves to get depressed or else the whole ship would
go down. Well, hell.
      I  was back at my table. Three men had the next table and they  had  a
little  boy with them. Each table had a small tv set, only theirs was turned
on  LOUD. The kid had it on some sitcom and that was nice of the men to  the
kid  look a his program. But he wasn't paying any attention to it, he wasn't
listening, he was sitting there pushing around a rolled-up piece  of  paper.
He bounced it against some cups, then he took it and tossed it into this cup
and that. Some of the cups were filled with coffee. But the men just went on
talking  about  the  horses. My god, that tv was LOUD. I thought  of  saying
something  to the men, asking them to lower the tv a bit. But the  men  were
black  and they'd think I was racist. I left my table and walked out to  the
betting  windows. I was unlucky, I got in a slow line. There was an old  guy
up  front having trouble making his bets. He had his Form spread out  across
the  window, along with his programm and he was very hesitant about what  he
wanted  to do. He probably lived in an old folks home or and institution  of
some  sort  but he was out or a day at the races. Well, no law against  that
and  no law against him being in a fog. But somehow it hurt. Jesus, I  don't
have  to  suffer this, I thought. I had memorized the back of his head,  his
ears,  his  clothing,  the  bent back. The horses  were  nearing  the  gate.
Everybody  was screaming at him. He didn't notice them. Then, painfully,  we
watched as he slowly reached for his wallet. Slow, slow motion. He opened it
and peered into it. Then he poked his fingers in there. I don't even want to
go  on. He finally paid and the clerk slowly handed him back his money. Then
he  stood there looking at his money and his tickets, then he turned back to
the  clerk  and  said, "No, I wanted the 6-4 exacta, not  this..."  Somebody
yelled out an obscenity. I walked off. The horses leaped out of the gate and
I walked to the men's room to piss.
      When I came back the waiter had my bill ready. I paid, tipped 20%  and
thanked him.
     "See you tomorrow, amigo," he said.
     "Maybe," I said.
     "You'll be here," he said.
      The other races ground on. I bet early on the 9th and left. I left ten
minutes before post. I got to my car and moved out. At the end of parking on
Century  Boulevard by the signal there was an ambulance, a fire  engine  and
two  police cars. Two cars had hit head-on. There was glass everywhere,  the
cars  were  really  mangled. Somebody had been in a  hurry  to  get  in  and
somebody had been in a hurry to get out. Horseplayers.
     I moved around the crash and took a left on Century.
      Just  another  day shot through the head and buried. It  was  Saturday
afternoon in hell. I drove along with the others.

     9/15/92 1:06 AM
      Talk about a writer's block. I believe I was bitten by a spider. Three
times.  Noticed these 3 large red welts on my left arm the night of 9-08-92.
Around 9 p.m. There was a slight pain to the touch. I decided to ignore  it.
But  after  15  minutes I showed the marks to Linda.  She  had  been  to  an
emergency room earlier in the day. Something had left a stinger in her back.
Now it was after 9 p.m., everything was closed except the Emergency Ward  of
the  local  hospital.  I  had been there before: I had  fallen  into  a  hot
fireplace  while  drunk. I had not fallen into the  fire  directly  but  had
fallen upon the hot surface while only wearing my shorts. Now, it was  this.
These welts.
      "I  think  I'd feel like a fool going in there with just these  welts.
There  are  people in there bloodied from car crashes, knifings,  shootings,
attempted suicides, and all I have are 3 red welts.
      "I  don't  want to wake up with a dead husband in the morning,"  Lidna
said.
     I thought about it for 15 minutes, then said, "All right, let's go in."
      It  was quiet in there. The lady at the desk was on the telephone. She
was on the telephone for some time. Then she was finished.
     "Yes?" she asked.
      "I  think  I've been bitten by something," I said. "Maybe I should  be
looked at."
     I gave her my name. I was in the computer. Last visit: TB time.
      I  was  walked  into a room. The nurse did the usual. Blood  pressure.
Temperature.
     The the doctor. He examined the welts.
     "Looks like a spider," he said, "they usually bite 3 times."
      I  was  given a tetanus shot, a prescription for some antibiotics  and
some Benadryl.
     We drove off to an all-night Sav-on to get the stuff.
      The  500  mg Duricef was to be taken one capsule every 12  hours.  The
Benadryl one every 4 to 6 hours.
      I began. And this is the point. After a day or so I felt similar as  I
had  to the time I had been taking antibiotics for TB. Only then, due to  my
weakened  state, I was barely able to walk up and down the stairway,  having
to  pull myself along by the banister. Now it was just the nauseous feeling,
the dullness of mind. About the 3rd day I sat down in front of this computer
to  see if anything would come out of it. I only sat there. This must be,  I
thought,  the way it feels when it finally leaves you. And there is  nothing
you  can do. At the age of 72 it was always possible that it would leave me.
The  ability  to write. It was a fear. And it was not about fame.  Or  about
money.  It  was about me. I release of writing. The safety of  writing.  All
that  mattered was the next line. And if the next line wouldn't come, I  was
dead, even though, technically, I was living.
     I have been off the antibiotics now for 24 hours but I still feel dull,
a bit ill. The writing here lacks spark and gamble. Too bad, kid.
      Now, tomorrow, I must see my regular doctor to find out if I need more
antibiotics  or what. The welts are still there, though smaller.  Who  knows
what the hell?
      Oh  yes,  the  nice lady at the receptionist's desk,  just  as  I  was
leaving,  began talking about spider bites. "Yes, there was this  fellow  in
his twenties. He got bit by a spider, now he's paralyzed from the waist up."
     "Is that so?" I asked.
     "Yes," she said, "and there was another case. This fellow..."
     "Never mind," I told her, "we have to leave."
     "Well," she said, "have a nice night."
     "You too," I said.

     11/6/82 12:08 AM
      I  feel  poisoned tonight, pissed-on, used, worn to the nub. It's  not
entirely old age but it might have something to do with it. I think that the
crowd, that crowd. Humanity which has always been difficult for me, that all
repeat  performance  for them. There's no freshness in them.  Not  even  the
tiniest  miracle. They just grind on and over me. If, one day, I could  just
see  ONE  person doing or saying something unusual it would help me  get  on
with it. But the are stale, grimy. There's no lift. Eyes, ears, legs, voices
but...  nothing.  They  congeal  within themselves,  kid  themselves  along,
pretending to be alive.
      It  was  better when I was young. I was still looking. I  prowled  the
streets of night looking, looking... mixing, fighting, searching... I  found
nothing. I never really found a friend. With women, there was hope with each
new  one  but that was in the beginning. Even early on, I got it, I  stopped
looking for the Dream Girl, I just wanted one that wasn't a nightmare.
     With people, all I found were the living who were now dead -- in books,
in  classical  music. But that helped, for a while. But there were  only  so
many  lively  and  magical book, then in stopped.  Classial  musics  was  my
stronghold.  I  heard  most of it on the radio, still  do.  And  I  am  ever
surprised, even now, when I hear something strong and new and unheard before
and  it happens quite often. As I write this I am listening to something  on
the  radio that I have never heard before. I feast on each note like  a  man
starving  for a new rush of blood and meaning and it's there. I  am  totally
astonished  by the mass of great music, centuries and centuries  of  it.  It
must  be that many great souls once lived. I can't explain it but it  is  my
great  luck in life to have this, to sense this, to feed upon and  celebrate
it.  I never write anything without the radio on to classical music, it  has
always been a part of my work, to hear this music as I write. Perhaps,  some
day, somebody will explain to me why so much of the energy of the Miracle is
contained in classical music? I doubt that this will ever be told to  me.  I
will only be left to wonder. Why, why, why aren't there more books with this
power? What's wrong with the writers? Why are there so few good one?
      Rock  music does not do it for me. I went to rock concert, mainly  for
the  sake  of  my wife, Linda. Sure, I'm a good guy, huh? Huh?  Anyhow,  the
tickets were free, courtesy of the rock musician who reads my books. We were
to  be  in  a special section with the big shots. A director, former  actor,
made  a  trip to pick us up in his sport wagon. Another actor was with  him.
These  are talented people, in their way, and not bad human beings. We drove
to  the  director's place, there was his lady friend, we saw their baby  and
then  off  we  all went in a limo. Drinks, talk. The concert was  to  be  at
Dodger  Stadium. We arrived late. The rock group was on, blasting,  enormous
sound. 25,000 people. There was a vibrancy there but it was short-lived.  It
was  fairly  simplistic. I suppose the lyrics were all right  if  you  could
understand  them.  They  were probably speaking of Causes,  Decencies,  Love
found  and  lost,  etc. People need that -- anti-establisment,  anti-parent,
anti-  something. But a successful millionaire groupe like that,  no  matter
what they said, THEY WERE NOW ESTABLISHMENT.
      Then,  after  a while, the leader said, "This concert is dedicated  to
Linda  and Charles Bukuwski!" 25,000 people cheered as if they knew  who  we
were. It is to laugh.
      The  big  shot  movie starts milled about. I had met  them  before.  I
worriend  about  that. I worried about directors and actors  coming  to  our
place. I disliked Hollywood, the movies seldom ever worked for me. What  was
I  doing with these people? Was I being sucked in? 72 years of fighting  the
good fight, then to be sucked away?
      The  concert was almost over and we followed the director to  the  VIP
bar. We were among the select. Wow!
      There  were tables tables in there, a bar. And the famous. I made  for
the  bark. Drinks were free. There was a huge black bartender. I ordered  my
drink  and told him, "After I drink this one, we'll go out back and duke  it
out."
     The bartender smiled.
     "Bukowski!"
     "You know me?"
      "I used to read your "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" in the L.A. Free Press
and Open City."
     "Well, I'll be god-damned..."
     We shook hands. The fight was off.
      Linda and I talked to various people, about what I don't know. I  kept
going back to the bar again and again for my vodka 7's. The bartender poured
me  tall  ones. I'd also loaded up in the limo on the way in. The night  got
easier  for  me, it was only a matter of drinking them down  big,  fast  and
often.
      When  rock star came in I was fairly far gone but still there. He  sat
down  and  we talked but I don't know about what. Then came black-out  time.
Evidently we left. I only know what I heard later. The limo got us back  but
as  I  reached  the steps of the house I fell and cracked  my  head  on  the
bricks.  We  had just had the bricks put in. The right side of my  head  was
bloody and I had hurt my right hand and my back.
      I  found most of this in the morning when I rose to take a piss. There
was the mirror. I looked like the old days after the barroom fights. Christ.
I  washed some of the blood away, fed our 9 cats and went back to bed. Linda
wasn't feeling too well either. But she had seen her rock show.
      I knew I wouldn't be able to write for 3 or 4 days and that it would a
couple of days before I got back to the racetrack.
     It was back to classical music for me. I was honored and all that. It's
great that the rocks start read my work but I've heard from men in jails and
madhouses who do too. I can't help it who reads my work. Forget it.
      It's good sitting here tonight in this little room on the second floor
listening  on the radio, the old body, the old mind mending. I belong  here,
like this. Like this. Like this.

     2/21/93 12:33 AM
      Went  to the track today in the rain and watched 7 consensus favorites
out  of 9 win. There is no way I can make it when this occurs. I watched the
hours  get slugged in the head and looked at the people studying their  tout
sheets,  newspapers and Racing Forms. Many of them left  early,  taking  the
escalators down and out. (Gunshot outside now as I write this, life back  to
normal.) After about 4 or 5 races I left the clubhouse and went own  to  the
grandstand area. There was a difference. Fewer whites, of course, more poor,
of course. Down there, I was a minority. I walked about and I could feel the
desperation  in  the  air.  These were 2 dollar  bettors.  They  didn't  bet
favorites.  They  bet the shots, the exactas, the daily doubles.  They  were
looking  for  a  lot  of  money of a little money and  they  were  drowning.
Drowning in the rain. It was grim there. I needed a new hobby.
      The  track  had changed. Forty years ago there had been some  joy  out
there, even among the losers. The bars had been packed. This was a different
world.  There was no money to blow to the sky, no to-hell-with-it money,  no
we'll-be-back- tomorrow money. This was the end of the world. Old  clothing.
Twisted  and bitter faces. The rent money. The 5 dollars an hour money.  The
money  of the unemployed, of the illegal immigrants. The money of the  petty
thieves, the burglars, the money of the disinherited. The air was dark.  And
the  lines  were long. They made the poor wait in long lines. The poor  were
used  to  long  lines.  And they stood in them to have  their  small  dreams
smashed.
     This was Hollywood Park, located in the black district, in the district
of Central Americans and other minorities.
     I went back upstairs to the clubhouse, to the shorter lines. I got into
line, bet 20 win on the second favorite.
     "When ya gonna do it?" the clerk asked me.
     "Do what?" I asked.
     "Cash some tickets."
     "Any day now," I told him.
     I turned and walked away. I could hear him say something else. Old bent
white haired guy. He was having a bad day. Many of the mutuel clerks bet.  I
tried  to  go  to  a  different clerk each time I  bet,  I  didn't  want  to
fraternize.  The fucker was out of line. It was none of his  business  if  I
ever  cashed a bet. The clerks rode with you when you were running hot. They
would ask each other, "What'd he bet?" But go cold on them, they got pissed.
They should do their own thinking. Just because I was there every day didn't
mean I was a professional gambler. I was a professional writer. Sometimes.
      I  was walking along and I saw this kid rushing toward me. I knew what
it was. He blocked my path.
     "Pardon me," he said, "are you Charles Bukowski?"
     "Charles Darwin," I said, then spepped around him.
     I didn't want to hear it, whatever he had to say.
      I  watched the race and my horse came in second, beaten out by another
favorite.  On off or muddy tracks too many favorites win. I don't  know  the
reason but it occurs. I got the hell out of the racetrack and drove on in.
     Got to the place, greeten Linda. Checked the mail.
     Rejection letter from the Oxford American. I checked my poems. Not bad,
good  but not exceptional. Just a losing day. But I was still alive. It  was
almost the year 2,000 and I was still alive, whatever it meant.
      We  went out to eat at a Mexican place. Much talk about the fight that
night. Chavez and Haugin before 130,000 in Mexico City. I didn't give Haugin
a  chance.  He had guts but no punch, no movement and he was about  3  years
past his prie. Chavez could name the round.
      That  night it was the way it was. Chavez didn't even sit down between
rounds. He was hardly breathing heavily. The whole thing was a clean, sheer,
brutal  event.  The  body shots Chavez landed made me  wince.  It  was  like
hitting a man in the ribs with a sledgehammer. Chavez finally got bored with
carrying his man and took him out.
      "Well,  hell,"  I  said to my wife, "we paid to see  exactly  what  we
thought we would see."
     The tv was off.
      Tomorrow the Japanese were coming by to interview me. One of my  books
was  now  in  Japanese and another was on the way. What would I  tell  them?
About the horses? Maybe they would just ask questions. They should. I was  a
writer,  huh?  How  strange it was but everybody had to be something  didn't
they? Homeless, famous, gay, mad, whatever. If they ever again run in 7 more
favorites  on  a  9  race  card, I'm going to start  doing  something  else.
Jogging. Or the museums. Or finger painting. Or chess. I mean, hell,  that's
just as stupid.

     2/27/93 12:56 AM
     The captain is out and the sailors have taken over the ship.
      Why  are  there  so few interesting people? Out of the  millions,  why
aren't  there  a few? Must we continue to live with this drab and  ponderous
species?  Seems their only act is Violence. They are so good at  that.  They
truly  blossom. Shit flowers, stinking up our chance. Problem is, if I  want
the  lights to go on, if I want this computer repaired, if I want  to  flush
the  toilet, buy a new tire, get a tooth pulled or my gut cut open,  I  must
continue to interact. I need the fuckers for the minute necessities, even if
they, themselves appall me. And appall is a kind word.
      But  they pound on my consciousness with their failure in vital areas.
For instance, every day as I drive to the track I keep punching the radio to
different  stations  looking for music, decent music.  It's  all  bad,  flat
lifeless,  tuneless,  listless.  Yet some  of  these  compositions  sell  in
millions and their creators consider themselves true Artists. It's horrible,
horrible drivel entering the minds of you heads. They like it. Christ,  hand
them  shit, they eat it up. Can't they discern? Can't they hear? Can't  they
feel the dilution, the staleness?
      I can't believe that there is nothing. I keep punching in new statios.
I've  had my car less than a year yet the button I push has the black  paint
completely worn off. It is white, ivory-like, staring at me.
     Well, yes, there is classical music. I finally have to settle for that.
But  I  know that is always there for me. I listen to that 3 or  4  hours  a
night.  But I still keep searching for other music. It's just not there.  It
should  be  there. It disturbs me. We've been cheated out of a  whole  other
area.  Think of all the people alive who have never heard decent  music.  No
wonder  their  faces are falling off, no wonder they kill thoughtlessly,  no
wonder the heat is missing.
     Well, what can I do? Nothing.
      The  movies are just as bad. I will listen to or read the  critics.  A
great  movie,  they will say. And I will go see said movie.  And  sit  there
feeling like a fucking fool, feeling robbed, tricked. I can guess each scene
before  it  arrives. And the obvious motives of the characters, what  drives
them, what they yearn for, what is of importance to them is so juvenile  and
pathetic,  so  boringly gross. The love bits are galling, old hat,  precious
drivel.
      I  believe  that  most people see too many movies. And  certainly  the
critics.  When  they  say that a movie is great, they  mean  it's  great  in
relation  to other movies they have seen. They've lost their overview.  They
are clubbed by more and more new movies. They just don't know, they are lost
in  it  all.  They  have  forgotten  what really  stinks,  which  is  almost
everything they view.
     And let's not even talk about television.
      And  as  a  writer... am I one? Oh well. As a writer  I  have  trouble
reading other writing. It just isn't there for me. To begin with, they don't
know  how  to lay down a line, a paragraph. Just looking at the  print  from
distance,  it looks boring. And when you really get down there,  it's  worse
than boring. There's no pace. There's nothing startling or fresh. There's no
gamble, no fire, no juice. What are they doing? It looks like hard work.  No
wonder mostwriters say writing is painful to them. I can understand that.
      Sometimes  with  my writing, when it hasn't roared, I  have  attempted
other  things. I have pouren wine on the pages, I have held the pages  to  a
match  and  burned  holes in them. "What are you DOING  in  there?  I  smell
smoke!"
     "No, it's all right, baby, it'all right..."
      Once  my  wastebasket caught fire and I rushed it  out  of  my  little
balcony, poured beer over it.
      For my own writing, I like to watch the boxing matches, watch how  the
left  jab  is  used,  the overhand right, the left hook, the  uppercut,  the
counter  punch. I like to watch them dig in, come off the canvas.  There  is
something to be learned, something to be applied to the art of writing,  the
way  of writing. You have just one chance and then it's gone. There are only
pages left, you might as well make them smoke.
      Classical music, cigars, the computer make the writing dance,  holler,
laugh. The nightmare life helps too.
      Each  day as I walk into that racetrack am blasting my hours to  shit.
But  I  still  have  the night. What do other writers do? Stand  before  the
mirror  and  examine their ear lobes? And then write about  them.  Or  their
mothers.  Or  how to Save the World. Well, they can save it for  me  by  not
writing that dull stuff. That slack and withered drivel. Stop! Stop! Stop! I
need  something to read. Isn't there anything to read? I don't think so.  If
you find it, let me know. No don't. I know: you wrote it. Forget it. Go take
a dump.
      I remember a long raging letter I got one day from a man who told me I
had  no  right to say that I didn't like Shakespeare. Too many youth believe
me  and  just  not bother to read Shakespeare. I had no right to  take  this
stance. On and on about that. I didn't answer him. But I will here.
     Screw you, buddy. And I don't like Tolstoy either!
     18




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