Monday, April 21, 2014


for shawn

beans with garlic

this is important enough:
to get your feelings down,
it is better than shaving
or cooking beans with garlic.
it is the little we can do
this small bravery of knowledge
and there is of course
madness and terror too
in knowing
that some part of you
wound up like a clock
can never be wound again
once it stops.
but now
there's a ticking under your shirt
and you whirl the beans with a spoon
one love dead, one love departed
another one...
ah!  as many loves as beans
yes, count them now
sad, sad
your feelings boiling over flames,
get this down.

charles bukowski


shawn loved bukowski.  that's how our friendship started, the bartender at a local watering hole told shawn that i read.....a lot.  shawn asked if i had ever read bukowski and i hadn't, at that point.  shawn introduced me to bukowski's books and poetry along with the documentary, born into this and i introduced him to the song by modest mouse, and the film, factotum.

what we shared after that were evenings sharing a glass of wine (or something mixed with vodka more often than not) while each taking a turn reading a poem by bukowski from one of his books.  sometimes these moments would involve a field trip.  i remember the first time he took me to this little spot on one of the lakes, it was almost spring and the lake had begun to thaw about a week before.  there was still snow on the ground and it was still cold as he led me to the water's edge where we sat on a sleeping bag with another wrapped around us.  we would pass the thermos (containing something hot and alcoholic) back and forth while taking turns reading bukowski.  shawn would inevitably get that wild gleam in his eye that it was time for sex and we would trumpet the arrival of spring by melting the surrounding snow.

for the few months that we spent with each other it was closer to idyllic than any of my previous relationships.  he would watch his espn while i lay with my head in his lap reading either another bukowski novel or something else i had on hand.  he would cook, i would do the dishes.  we watched art films, documentaries and superhero movies and action flicks.  we listened to vintage tom waits and nick drake.  we talked about everything and we enjoyed the silence.  we enjoyed each other's friendship.  i miss it sometimes.

when i moved back to illinois last year i tried to look him up and learned that he had passed in 2010.  while it would have been nice to see him again, i am more than grateful for the short amount of quality time we spent together melting the snow and breathing life into some bukowski.


there were 2 books of poems and excerpts by bukowski that we always read from:
run with the hunted and burning in water, drowning in flame 
i would recommend these if you're interested.