Curse You, Bukowski

A response to Charles Bukowski’s "so you want to be a writer?"

I READ YOUR advice to writers
And cursed your facile message:
That unless writing bursts forth unconsciously,
effortlessly, completely formed
Don't even bother
But I did anyhow
That last stanza came out of me slowly
Like running in mud . . . uphill . . . with boots on
It was rough, ragged
Not quite making sense
But I wrote it anyhow
I searched everywhere for a metaphor
On the ceiling
Through the skylight
Behind my dog's ears
But eventually it found me
I reread it and cringed
So I rewrote it
Again and again
Until I started to whither from exasperation
But I didn't
And when it was done I shared it with friends
A tact you deride
But I did it anyhow
I'm not driven to write by burning desire
If I could play golf every day
I'd never pen a thing
If Jake’s ribs and beer were free
I'd be too sated and drunk most days to find the keyboard
If I had a pass for unlimited travel
I'd be in cafe in Paris tomorrow watching the Seine roll by
Or cruising the Alaskan coast mourning melting glaciers
If I were a George Clooney clone
I'd be ensconced in LA clubs where the lithe young starlets hang
But I'm none of these
So instead, I wait . . . and wait
Until a stray comment or odd news story
Trips a switch in my brain
That’s when I sit and write
However long it takes
Until it's all out on the page
Ugly or not
Then I have a beer and watch the golf channel
You never know where a good idea will come from

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