Appears (in an edited form, as "the lover") in Betting on the Muse
the great lover
I mean, at that place in east Hollywood
I was so often with the hardest numbers
I don't speak as a misogynist
I had other people ask me,
"what the hell are you doing, anyhow?"
these were floozies, killers, blanks
they had bodies, hair, eyes, legs
but, say, take one of them, it was like
sitting there with a shark dressed in a
dress, high heels, smoking, drinking,
the nights went into days and the days
went into nights
and we babbled on through, sometimes
bedding down, badly.
through the drink, the uppers, the
downers, I got myself to imagine
things--say, that this one was the
golden girl of the golden heart and
the golden way of laughter and love
in the dim smokey light the long hair
looked better than it was, the legs
more shapely, the conversation not as
bare, not as vicious
I fooled myself pretty well. I even
got myself to thinking that I loved
one of them, the worst one
I mean, why the hell be negative?
we drank, drugged, stayed in the
center of the rug, through sunset,
sunrise, played Scrabble for 8
or ten hours
each time I went in to piss she
stole the letters she needed
she was a survivor, the
after one marathon session
of 52 hours of whatever we
she said, "let's drive to
Vegas and get married?"
"what?" I asked.
"let's drive to Vegas and
get married before we
change our minds!"
"but suppose we get married,
"then you can have it any
time you want it." she told
I went in to take a piss
to let her steal the letters
but when I came out I opened
a new bottle of wine
and spoke no more of the
she didn't come around as
much after that
but there were others,
about the same
sometimes there were
more than one
they'd come in two's
the word got out that
there was an old sucker
in the back court, free
booze and he wasn't overly
although at times something
would overtake me and I
would grab a body and throw
in a sweaty horse copulation,
mostly, I guess, to see if
I could still do it
and I confused the mailman
there was an old couch on
the porch and many a morning
as he came by I'd be sitting
there with, say, two of them
we'd be sitting there with our
beer cans, smoking and
one day he found me alone
"pardon me," he said, "but can
I ask you something?"
"well, I don't think you're
"no, I'm broke."
"Listen, he said, "I've been around
"and I've never seen a man with
as many women as you.
there's always a different one.
or a different pair..."
"how do you do it?
I mean, pardon me, but you're kind
of old and you're not exactly a
Cassanova, you know?"
"I could be ugly, even."
he shifted his letters from one hand to the
"I mean, how do you do it?"
"availability," I told him.
"what do you mean?"
"I mean, women like a guy who is always
"uh," he said, then walked off to continue his
his praise didn't help me
what he saw wasn't as good as he thought
even with them there were unholy periods of
I walked back into my place
the phone was ringing
I knew that it would be a female
©Linda Lee Bukowski - used with permission