Drunken Laundry day with Charles Bukowski

It takes a six-pack just for him to get it together

In that dirty underground room of his

His radio is cranked

“London’s calling”

He gets that mess together into a pile

Condemned rages, he thinks and cracks another beer

With a pillow case and a box of soap

he heads out

with that beer-stain Bukowski book of poems

The Days run Away Like Wild Horses

His rooming house is in the DTES

The laundromat is around the corner

The cashier just on his left

The rat, tat, tat of a sewing machine

behind the counter

He heads for the back

Chairs, tables, scattered newspapers

He stuffs his stinky rags into a washer

He stays and reads Bukowski

Puts his workman’s rags into the dryer

Sinks enough quarters in for an hour

and heads for the closes bar

“I’ll have two of your cheapest draft”

he says to the young bartender

He puts Bukowski’s book down

to get at a twenty-dollar bill

“I think Mr.Bukowski would approve”

the bartender says

“I read his shit in college, a lot of us have, dude”

He heads for that dirty-fish-bowl smoking room

Thinks, all-right college students still read Bukowski

After the third round and another poem

“Song of my typewriter”

He heads back in sun glasses

Through a gauntlet of drug addicts

Curled up in dirty street blankets

Syringes scattered with garbage everywhere

Skinny hardened rat-faced drug addicts

Committing suicide slowly

He stops as this twenty-year-old kid jumps

in front of him wrapped in a blanket

holding a garbage bag suitcase

Thin, tall, shaggy long blond hair, blue eyes

a sculpted bronze sunken pimpled face

Wondering if he’s that fallen angel

He looks at him from head to bare dirty feet

“Do you want to buy some crack?”

“No my life is hard enough kid

I don’t have to make it harder man”

Stumbles into the laundromat

feeling like he just escaped a bunch of zombies

The place is full

With the extinct middle class

Watches them as they slowly turn into fossils

Feels more pity for them

Than the ones that are outside committing suicide

He opens the dryer door

“Jesus Christ,hot as hell”

he says out loud

Bangs his head

Curses in silence


Then hears a little voice

“Mommy there’s another man arguing with God again”

He turns around and takes off his sun glasses

A little girl with sun-kissed freckles smiles

As she sits there, on the table

Her mother continues folding their clothes

With a smile she says

“Let the man be, Sara”

“My laundry is really hot”

he says in his own mad defiance

Stuffs his rags into his pillow case

Thinks only of that other warm six-pack

Says goodbye to the little girl and her mom

Apologize to them and God

He heads back to that dirty little underground

To drink and read

Bukowski’s drunken Knowledge.


Copyright © 2011 by Henry Doyle

Drunken Laundry Day With Charles Bukowski

Was one of three winners in the 2011 Downtown Eastside Writers’

Jamboree Writing Contest.


Geist magazine issue 82


Also published in V6A:  Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.


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