Pacific Northwest

For four straight miles of sunshine
Against the damp pavement I walked
Until the clouds came back,
And I plowed through them, too
It’s high altitude up here,
mountains in all directions
For another mile or so
These trees are taller than any of the ones
I used to see back home,
They hide a lot of the sun
When the clouds aren’t bearing down
It wasn’t a cold day
But it wasn’t bright either
And all I was doing
Was trying to catch the sun, but
Of course it’s too far away
Like so many other things
My body craves, things
My mind needs to sustain itself,
Most of what I’ve seen
Here is just like back home
except the gigantic trees
I’ve been dwarfed by so much
I am dwarfed by tanker trucks,
Slinging slush in my direction
It is easy enough to let it go and forgive them
They are just doing their jobs
That is what the good people do
I don’t have a job,
But I read like it’s my job,
And I’ve learned enough from books
to know life isn’t like that,
Until the next generation that’s worth
A shit writes some more books,
I don’t know what to do
And I only have one friend
And he’s my drug dealer, which is cool
We get along,
Our dogs get along,
And everything is cool
He usually has other people over when 
I come by, which is fine
I make introductions
Because he is too stoned,
And they smile and shake my hand,
Today was one guy I’d never met
And another guy from another day
Another refill, another fifty-dollar bill
The two of them
Came for medicine, just like me
And I realize that only by the three
Of them combined was there
One mouthful of teeth,
If that,
I take it in, and I look at them,
These three men who have
Totally given up on life,
Or at least stopped giving a shit
Or have they? They don’t have jobs,
One is in school or trying
It’s the weekend so
They’re set to get loaded,
So they are there to get loaded
And it’s a nice day
The neighbor
Lives in a trailer
With a built-on porch and
There is a deflated pool in his yard
For a second, everything looks like
All that shit back home
So many cars in the yard,
My friend is the landlord,
I figured that out
He’s half his age and at least
Twice as funny, even though he’s quiet
The neighbor is a trip
We watch him through the window,
Wearing a dirty fedora
And he comes outside, goes back in
Comes back out, it’s weird
These are the only people I know
And we’re watching this one guy
Through the window, it’s raining again
I keep hoping the sun will come back out
Then the neighbor starts banging
On the back door, and we all jump a little,
It sounds like a cop out there, crazy
The neighbor walks in
And he’s huge, as big as the trees,
He’s got an energy drink in one hand
And some cash in the other
He needs to settle up the rent
And part of the light bill
Or something like that
And they argue about debts and bullshit
One of the two guys on the couch, 
the younger one,
Looks across the coffee table
At my flask full of Canadian whiskey
I passed it to him
And they’re still talking business over there,
And now that we know it wasn’t a cop
I roll a joint because I’m fidgety
It gives me something to do with my hands
Then the neighbor, his name is Rene,
Comes and stands near me,
Towering over me,
He is a very large man
And he dwarfed me like the trees,
He is like no one I ever met back home,
He was worse
But actually
He was a pleasant man,
Probably in his 60s and slovenly,
But the hat made up for the fact that
His clothes were probably dirty
And his teeth were rotten,
For sure his teeth were rotten,
But he told a few really great stories,
Mostly about when he was
In his twenties, like me, and he rode with Hell’s Angels
and I laughed way too loud because
That’s every old guy’s favorite story to tell
To young people who are too young to know the difference
I think he was telling the truth, 
He was too wasted to lie
When he was in Vietnam, he said
It was worse than the boys have it
Nowadays, 
Back then they were in tunnels underneath enemy land
It was wild, he said
It was wild and when he got out
He made it his mission
To do as many drugs as he could
Which turned out to be a lot more drugs
Than he really planned for, he said, so
After that he moved to California
And this group of guys tried to pimp him out
He wouldn’t be a real prostitute,
No,
It was just one of those deals,
Go to dinner with them, keep them company
Women don’t like to be alone
And I’m the only girl in the room
But that just means I’m the best listener,
So I’m listening
To him and his ridiculous stories,
And he asks for some whiskey
I cringe inside, pass it
And I think about all of their mouths
They had all taken turns
Molesting the small metal lip of my flask with their filth
It’s a good thing rotten teeth aren’t contagious,
So everything is cool
The neighbor talks about seeing things
In three dimensions now, as if
Seeing things that way is something special,
Or out of the ordinary,
And I realize he’s drunk,
He said he doesn’t usually drink whiskey
He sticks to energy drinks in the big cans,
Full of chemicals and all that shit
He excuses himself, the neighbor,
And we watch him leave
Through the window we can see him
Stumbling, holding onto his hat
The wind is blowing,
But it’s not raining,
Of course that’s only temporary
And necessary,
Like that hat Rene wore,
The day stank but it wasn’t
The worst thing I’d ever seen

we all drifted apart
and that solved just
one of my
problems
and I suppose
just one of theirs.

Charles Bukowski