Bukowski and the Greyhound Bus

by Jerry Ratch


It's a grey and stormy day naturally

We're crowded into a tiny bus shelter

as it pours 57 varieties of cats and hounds


They keep hitting the pavement around us

with the splatting sounds those animals make

when falling out of the heavens


When the Greyhound Bus finally pulls up

and the door opens, we can see it's

Charles Bukowski driving the bus, even though his nametag reads: Noah


His face is pock-marked and the bus

smells like a barroom, a cigar butt hanging from

his mouth. “Sorry,” he says, jerking his thumb behind him


“It's standing room only. You can ride into Santa Rosa

standing, or sitting in the wet aisle like some of them

or you can stay here at the roadside, it's your choice


There's no other bus till tomorrow morning

Well, what's it gonna be? We ain't got all day”

Bukowski chomps on his old unlit cigar butt


but at least he still has some teeth

We peer into the bus load of people

It's all the old poets from the Great San Francisco


Poetry Wars. They keep looking at me without saying

a word. You can tell some of them don't write

anymore, and they look like the dead. They just


stay on the bus for old time sake, or for the memories

of self-torture, because they enjoy it

And it's only wet on the floor of the aisle


So we get in, of course, with the rest of the herd

and sit down in the water on the floor, back to back

so we can at least have a backrest


The cold and wet seep up my pants

and we grow used to it. I face my peers

and after awhile begin reading some of my


funny poems. “Read them the good stuff!”

yells Bukowski from the front of the bus

looking in the rear-view mirror


“Quit fooling around. Read them Puppet X

This may be your last chance

Go ahead,” Bukowski growls, “start reading”


And he settles back and keeps driving the bus

around the curves, following the river

beside the road, until we pull into Santa Rosa


where most of the passengers get off, weeping

and take busses heading in any other direction

in their complicated, unsettled lives