at high noon
at a small college near the beach
sober
the sweat running down my arms
a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger
blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others
but it’s for bread and beer and rent
blood money
I’m tense lousy feel bad
poor people I’m failing I’m failing
a woman gets up
walks out
slams the door
a dirty poem
somebody told me not to read dirty poems
here
it’s too late.
my eyes can’t see some lines
I read it
out-
desperate trembling
lousy
they can’t hear my voice
and I say,
I quit, that’s it, I’m
finished.
and later in my room
there’s scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.
this then
will be my destiny:
scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since beome tired
of.
and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were
fools.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Charles Bukowski's poem The Poetry Reading

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