Charles Bukowski

for they had things to say

Henry Charles Bukowski August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and beautiful economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.[4] His work addresses the ordinary lives of rich Americans,…






the canaries were there, and the lemon tree
and the old woman with warts;
and I was there, a child
and I touched the piano keys
as they talked —
but not too loudly
for they had things to say,
the three of them;
and I watched them cover the canaries at night
with flour sacks:
"so they can sleep, my dear."

I played the piano quietly
one note at a time,
the canaries under their sacks,
and there were pepper trees,
pepper trees brushing the roof like rain
and hanging outside the windows
like green rain,
and they talked, the three of them
sitting in a warm night's semicircle,
and the keys were black and white
and responded to my fingers
like the locked-in-magic
of a waiting, grown-up world;
and now they're gone, the three of them
and I am old:
pirate feet have trod
the clean-thatched floors
of my soul,
and the canaries sing no more.

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