9:09 in the morning

A Poem is a City
by Charles Bukowski

a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers
filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen,
filled with banality and booze,
filled with rain and thunder and periods of
drought, a poem is a city at war,
a poem is a city asking a clock why,
a poem is a city burning,
a poem is a city under guns
its barbershops filled with cynical drunks,
a poem is a city where God rides naked
through the streets like Lady Godiva,
where dogs bark at night, and chase away
the flag; a poem is a city of poets,
most of them quite similar
and envious and bitter …
a poem is this city now,
50 miles from nowhere,
9:09 in the morning,
the taste of liquor and cigarettes,
no police, no lovers, walking the streets,
this poem, this city, closing its doors,
barricaded, almost empty,
mournful without tears, aging without pity,
the hardrock mountains,
the ocean like a lavender flame,
a moon destitute of greatness,
a small music from broken windows …

a poem is a city, a poem is a nation,
a poem is the world …

and now I stick this under glass
for the mad editor’s scrutiny,
and night is elsewhere
and faint gray ladies stand in line,
dog follows dog to estuary,
the trumpets bring on gallows
as small men rant at things
they cannot do.

From The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    So — a poem is a blog?

  2. Churchill says

    Is it fair to say you think somebody’s work is not that good?

    If I were less tired, I’d expand on this, although it might not be my first priority.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Rest easy, Churchill. I’ll expand on this so you don’t have to:

      ‘Work’ is an abbreviation of the phrase ‘work for hire’.

      ‘Work for hire’ is Cockney rhyming slang for ‘contribution to the Pushkin sonnet-sequence on the Great Seattle Fire’.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        To clear up any confusion: Yes, this does mean that ‘work’ is roughly synonymous with ‘boot’:

        ‘Boot’ <– 'boot and bonnet' <– 'Great Seattle Fire Pushkin sonnet’

  3. Jonathan Webb says

    I think that poem is wonderful, but I don’t have a fancy degree from Oxford and a lot of smart friends.

    Thanks Jonathan.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      For those not in the know, Mr Webb is also showing off his rhyming slang — to wit:

      ‘Degree’ <– 'degree of frost' <– Lacoste

      'Oxford' <– 'Oxford comma' <– sugar-mama

  4. Yeah…that’s the ticket.

Speak Your Mind