Charles Bukowski On The Tragedies Of Ordinary Life – "The Shoelace Poem"



a woman a tire that's fled a disease a desire fears in front of you fears that hold so still you can study them like pieces on a chessboard it's not the large things that send a man to a madhouse death he's ready for or murder incest robbery fire flood no it's a continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse not the death of his love but a shoelace that snaps with no time left the dread of life does that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and Witcher all was there license plates her taxes or expired driver's license or hiring or firing doing it or having it done to you or constipation speeding tickets rickets or crickets or mice or termites or roaches or flies or a broken hook on the screen or out of gas or too much gas the sink stopped up the landlord's drunk the president doesn't care and the governor's crazy or making it as a waitress at Norm's on the split shift or as an emptier of bedpans or is a car wash or a busboy or a stealer of old ladies purses leaving them screaming on the sidewalks with broken arm at the age of 80 suddenly two red lights in your rear-view mirror in blood in your underwear and there's always crabs and ingrown toenails and people who insist they're your friends there's always that and worse leaky faucet Christ and Christmas blue salami nine-day rains $0.50 avocados and purple livers with each broken shoelace out of 100 broken shoelaces one man one woman one thing enters a madhouse so be careful when you bend over you

7 thoughts on “Charles Bukowski On The Tragedies Of Ordinary Life – "The Shoelace Poem"

  1. a woman, a

    tire that’s flat, a

    disease, a

    desire: fears in front of you,

    fears that hold so still

    you can study them

    like pieces on a

    chessboard…

    it’s not the large things that

    send a man to the

    madhouse. death he’s ready for, or

    murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood…

    no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies

    that send a man to the

    madhouse…

    not the death of his love

    but a shoelace that snaps

    with no time left …

    The dread of life

    is that swarm of trivialities

    that can kill quicker than cancer

    and which are always there –

    license plates or taxes

    or expired driver’s license,

    or hiring or firing,

    doing it or having it done to you, or

    roaches or flies or a

    broken hook on a

    screen, or out of gas

    or too much gas,

    the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk,

    the president doesn’t care and the governor’s

    crazy.

    light switch broken, mattress like a

    porcupine;

    $105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at

    sears roebuck;

    and the phone bill’s up and the market’s

    down

    and the toilet chain is

    broken,

    and the light has burned out –

    the hall light, the front light, the back light,

    the inner light; it’s

    darker than hell

    and twice as

    expensive.

    then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails

    and people who insist they’re

    your friends;

    there’s always that and worse;

    leaky faucet, christ and christmas;

    blue salami, 9 day rains,

    50 cent avocados

    and purple

    liverwurst.

    or making it

    as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift,

    or as an emptier of

    bedpans,

    or as a carwash or a busboy

    or a stealer of old lady’s purses

    leaving them screaming on the sidewalks

    with broken arms at the age of 80.

    suddenly

    2 red lights in your rear view mirror

    and blood in your

    underwear;

    toothache, and $979 for a bridge

    $300 for a gold

    tooth,

    and china and russia and america, and

    long hair and short hair and no

    hair, and beards and no

    faces, and plenty of zigzag but no

    pot, except maybe one to piss in

    and the other one around your

    gut.

    with each broken shoelace

    out of one hundred broken shoelaces,

    one man, one woman, one

    thing

    enters a

    madhouse.

    so be careful

    when you

    bend over.

    Charles Bukowski

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