We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain, Charles Bukowski

call it the greenhouse effect or whatever
but it just doesn’t rain like it used to.
I particularly remember the rains of the
depression era.
there wasn’t any money but there was
plenty of rain.
it wouldn’t rain for just a night or
a day,
it would RAIN for 7 days and 7
nights
and in Los Angeles the storm drains
weren’t built to carry off that much
water
and the rain came down THICK and
MEAN and
STEADY
and you HEARD it banging against
the roofs and into the ground
waterfalls of it came down
from roofs
and there was HAIL
big ROCKS OF ICE
bombing
exploding smashing into things
and the rain
just wouldn’t
STOP
and all the roofs leaked-
dishpans,
cooking pots
were placed all about;
they dripped loudly
and had to be emptied
again and
again.
the rain came up over the street curbings,
across the lawns, climbed up the steps and
entered the houses.
there were mops and bathroom towels,
and the rain often came up through the
toilets:bubbling, brown, crazy,whirling,
and all the old cars stood in the streets,
cars that had problems starting on a
sunny day,
and the jobless men stood
looking out the windows
at the old machines dying
like living things out there.
the jobless men,
failures in a failing time
were imprisoned in their houses with their
wives and children
and their
pets.
the pets refused to go out
and left their waste in
strange places.
the jobless men went mad
confined with
their once beautiful wives.
there were terrible arguments
as notices of foreclosure
fell into the mailbox.
rain and hail, cans of beans,
bread without butter;fried
eggs, boiled eggs, poached
eggs; peanut butter
sandwiches, and an invisible
chicken in every pot.
my father, never a good man
at best, beat my mother
when it rained
as I threw myself
between them,
the legs, the knees, the
screams
until they
separated.
“I’ll kill you,” I screamed
at him. “You hit her again
and I’ll kill you!”
“Get that son-of-a-bitching
kid out of here!”
“no, Henry, you stay with
your mother!”
all the households were under
siege but I believe that ours
held more terror than the
average.
and at night
as we attempted to sleep
the rains still came down
and it was in bed
in the dark
watching the moon against
the scarred window
so bravely
holding out
most of the rain,
I thought of Noah and the
Ark
and I thought, it has come
again.
we all thought
that.
and then, at once, it would
stop.
and it always seemed to
stop
around 5 or 6 a.m.,
peaceful then,
but not an exact silence
because things continued to
drip
drip
drip

and there was no smog then
and by 8 a.m.
there was a
blazing yellow sunlight,
Van Gogh yellow-
crazy, blinding!
and then
the roof drains
relieved of the rush of
water
began to expand in the warmth:
PANG!PANG!PANG!
and everybody got up and looked outside
and there were all the lawns
still soaked
greener than green will ever
be
and there were birds
on the lawn
CHIRPING like mad,
they hadn’t eaten decently
for 7 days and 7 nights
and they were weary of
berries
and
they waited as the worms
rose to the top,
half drowned worms.
the birds plucked them
up
and gobbled them
down;there were
blackbirds and sparrows.
the blackbirds tried to
drive the sparrows off
but the sparrows,
maddened with hunger,
smaller and quicker,
got their
due.
the men stood on their porches
smoking cigarettes,
now knowing
they’d have to go out
there
to look for that job
that probably wasn’t
there, to start that car
that probably wouldn’t
start.
and the once beautiful
wives
stood in their bathrooms
combing their hair,
applying makeup,
trying to put their world back
together again,
trying to forget that
awful sadness that
gripped them,
wondering what they could
fix for
breakfast.
and on the radio
we were told that
school was now
open.
and
soon
there I was
on the way to school,
massive puddles in the
street,
the sun like a new
world,
my parents back in that
house,
I arrived at my classroom
on time.
Mrs. Sorenson greeted us
with, “we won’t have our
usual recess, the grounds
are too wet.”
“AW!” most of the boys
went.
“but we are going to do
something special at
recess,” she went on,
“and it will be
fun!”
well, we all wondered
what that would
be
and the two hour wait
seemed a long time
as Mrs.Sorenson
went about
teaching her
lessons.
I looked at the little
girls, they looked so
pretty and clean and
alert,
they sat still and
straight
and their hair was
beautiful
in the California
sunshine.
the the recess bells rang
and we all waited for the
fun.
then Mrs. Sorenson told us:
“now, what we are going to
do is we are going to tell
each other what we did
during the rainstorm!
we’ll begin in the front row
and go right around!
now, Michael, you’re first!. . .”
well, we all began to tell
our stories, Michael began
and it went on and on,
and soon we realized that
we were all lying, not
exactly lying but mostly
lying and some of the boys
began to snicker and some
of the girls began to give
them dirty looks and
Mrs.Sorenson said,
“all right! I demand a
modicum of silence
here!
I am interested in what
you did
during the rainstorm
even if you
aren’t!”
so we had to tell our
stories and they were
stories.
one girl said that
when the rainbow first
came
she saw God’s face
at the end of it.
only she didn’t say which end.
one boy said he stuck
his fishing pole
out the window
and caught a little
fish
and fed it to his
cat.
almost everybody told
a lie.
the truth was just
too awful and
embarrassing to tell.
then the bell rang
and recess was
over.
“thank you,” said Mrs.
Sorenson, “that was very
nice.
and tomorrow the grounds
will be dry
and we will put them
to use
again.”
most of the boys
cheered
and the little girls
sat very straight and
still,
looking so pretty and
clean and
alert,
their hair beautiful in a sunshine that
the world might never see
again.
and

From The Last Night of the Earth Poems
Published in 1992 by Black Sparrow Press

Consiglio amichevole a molti giovani uomini, Charles Bukowski

Andate in Tibet.
Cavalcate un cammello.
Leggete la bibbia.
Tingetevi le scarpe di blu.
Fatevi crescere la barba.
Fate il giro del mondo in una canoa fatta di carta.
Abbonatevi al Saturday Evening Post.
Masticate soltanto dalla parte sinistra della bocca.
Sposate una donna con una gamba sola e fatevi la barba con un rasoio a lama.
E incidete il vostro nome sul suo braccio.

Lavatevi i denti con la benzina.
Dormite tutto il giorno e arrampicatevi sugli alberi la notte.
Fatevi monaci e bevete pallettoni e birra.
Tenete la testa sott’acqua e suonate il violino.
Fate la danza del ventre davanti a candele rosa.
Uccidete il vostro cane.
Candidatevi a sindaco.
Vivete in una botte.
Rompetevi la testa con un’accetta.
Piantate tulipani nella pioggia.

Ma non scrivete poesie.

Friendly advice to a lot of young men

Go to Tibet.
Ride a camel.
Read the Bible.
Dye your shoes blue.
Grow a Beard.
Circle the world in a paper canoe.
Subscribe to “The Saturday Evening Post.”
Chew on the left side of your mouth only.
Marry a woman with one leg and shave with a straight razor.
And carve your name in her arm.

Brush your teeth with gasoline.
Sleep all day and climb trees at night.
Be a monk and drink buckshot and beer.
Hold your head under water and play the violin.
Do a belly dance before pink candles.
Kill your dog.
Run for mayor.
Live in a barrel.
Break your head with a hatchet.
Plant tulips in the rain.

But don’t write poetry.

From “The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems 1946-1966”

Saggio pennello, fiore…, da “Sui gatti” (2015), Charles Bukowski

saggio pennello, fiore
addormentato, mi sveglio

il cacciatore va alla mia finestra
4 piedi inchiodati nella luminosa immobilità di una notte
gialla e blu.

stranezza crudele la fa da padrona nelle guerre, nei giardini –
la notte gialla e blu esplode dinanzi a
me, atomica, chirurgica,
piena di stellati diavoli
salmastri…
poi il gatto salta sulla
staccionata, un grasso gatto spaventato,
stupido, solitario…
baffi come una vecchia nel
supermercato
e nudo come la luna.

ne sono fugacemente
deliziato.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

sensible brush, sleeping…

sensible brush, sleeping
flower, I awaken

the hunter goes by my window
4 feet locked in the bright stillness of a
yellow and blue
night.

cruel strangeness takes hold in wars, in
gardens–
the yellow and blue night explodes before
me, atomic,
surgical,
full of starlit salty
devils…
then the cat leaps up on the
fence, a tubby dismay,
stupid, lonely…
whiskers like an old lady in the
supermarket
and naked as the
moon.

I am temporarily
delighted.

_________________________________
Poesia senza titolo pubblicata nella Hiram Poetry Review 1, autunno-inverno 1966; pubblicata in The Days Run Away Like Wilde Horses Over the Hills.

Ascoltando la radio all’1.35 di mattina, da “Mentre Buddha sorride” (2015), Charles Bukowski

cambio stazione:
un uomo suona il piano con stile
pomposo.

da qualche altra parte
ci sono belle case
sulla riva dell’oceano
dove puoi
sorseggiare il tuo drink
fuori sulla veranda
e
startene tranquillo e
guardare le onde
ascoltare le onde
frangersi al buio
e però
allo stesso tempo
puoi stare di merda anche
lì…

proprio come me adesso
che in una lotta tra cani
lotto per la vita
dentro queste 4 mura
30 chilometri nell’entroterra.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

Listening to the radio at 1:35 a.m.

I switch the station:
a man plays the piano in grand
fashion.

somewhere else
there are nice homes
on the ocean shore
where you can
take your drink
out on the veranda
and
stand at ease and
watch the waves
listen to the waves
crashing in the dark
and yet
at the same time
you can feel crappy there
too-

just like me now
having a dog fight
fighting for my life
within these 4 walls
20 miles inland.

Perfetto silenzio, da “Mentre Buddha sorride” (2015), Charles Bukowski

tutti quegli occhi
ardenti
tutte quelle dolci
intese
tutto quel
mascara
tutti quegli
orecchini

tutti quei corpi
caldi

adesso andranno
altrove.

mi rendo conto
che
potrei
perdere
la mia
ultima
opportunità

lasciando
il
telefono
staccato.

adesso
chiamo
soltanto
per
l’ambulanza,
i vigili del fuoco
o la polizia.

sono tornato allo
stesso punto di
anni fa:
non voglio
sentire le buone notizie
dalla voce
umana.

lo
tengo
staccato.

adesso
non
sono io quello per cui
suona
la campana

lascia che suoni
per
te.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

perfect silence

all those smoldering
eyes
all that sweet
understanding
all that
mascara
all those
earrings

all those warm
bodies

will now go
elsewhere.

I realize
that
I might be
missing
my
final
chance

by leaving
the phone
off the
hook.

now
I only
phone out
for an
ambulance,
firemen or
the police.

I’m back to
where I was
years ago:
I don’t want to
hear the good news
of the human
voice.

I keep it
off the
hook.

I am now
not
for whom the
bell
tolls

let it toll
for
you.

Ho visto un randagio ieri sera, da “Mentre Buddha sorride” (2015), Charles Bukowski

il modo in cui il vecchio cane camminava
con pelo consunto, a macchie
lungo il vicolo di nessuno
essendo il cane di nessuno…
oltre le bottiglie vuote di vodka
oltre i barattoli di burro d’arachidi,
con cavi pieni di elettricità
e gli uccelli addormentati da qualche parte,
lungo il vicolo se ne andava –
il cane di nessuno
in mezzo a tutto quello,
coraggioso quanto un esercito.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

I saw a tramp last night

the way the old dog walked
with dotted, tired fur
down nobody’s alley
being nobody’s dog…
past the empty vodka bottles
past the peanut butter jars,
with wires full of electricity
and the birds asleep somewhere,
down the alley he went –
nobody’s dog
moving through it all,
brave as any army.

In altre parole, da “La canzone dei folli, parte seconda” (2000), Charles Bukowski

Gli egiziani adoravano i gatti
spesso ci si facevano seppellire insieme
invece che con le donne
e mai coi cani

ma ora
qui da noi
scarseggiano
i sapienti
di tal fatta

benché ottimi gatti
ozino ancora
in grande stile
nei vicoli
dell’universo.

circa
la nostra discussione di stasera
a proposito di
non so più che,
non importa
quanto infelici
ci ha fatti
sentire

ricorda piuttosto
che da qualche parte
c’è un
gatto
che trova
il suo spazio
con grazia
deliziosa

in altre parole
la magia persiste
fuori di noi
per quanto
ci sforziamo
di spezzarla.

(Traduzione di Enrico Franceschini)

In other words

The Egyptians loved the cat
were often entombed with it
instead of with the women
and never with the dog

but now
here
good people with
good eyes
are very few

yet fine cats
with great style
lounge about
the alleys of
the universe.

about our argument tonight
whatever it was
about
and
no matter
how unhappy
it made us
feel

remember that
there is a
cat
somewhere
adjusting to the
space of itself
with a delightful
grace

in other words
magic persists
without us
no matter what
we may try to do
to spoil it.

Charles Bukowski, “Bone Palace Ballet: New Poems” (1997)

Caro editore:, da “Mentre Buddha sorride” (2015), Charles Bukowski

ricordi quando mi hai
comperato quella
vecchia macchina da scrivere
standard rigenerata
quando campavo d’aria
e di birra
là in quel posto
in DeLongpre?

e l’ho
provata
e ti ho chiamato quella
sera stessa
ubriaco
lamentandomi che
saltava uno spazio
quando battevo una “e” o
una “u”?

be’, ho appena
ordinato una IBM elettrica
da 700$
con la mia
carta oro
American Express.

ha un correttore
automatico
tra le sue molte altre
funzioni.
sto precipitando all’inferno
così velocemente
che neanche te lo
immagini.

forse dovrei lasciar
perdere il vino tedesco costoso
e tornare alla birra
se voglio
ritrovare
me stesso.

nel frattempo,
aspetto
la consegna.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

dear editor:

remember when you
bought me that
big rebuilt standard
typewriter
when I was living on air
and beer
over at that place
on DeLongpre?

and I tried it
out
and phoned you that
night
drunk
complaining that it
jumped an extra space
when I hit an “e” or
a “u”?

well, I’ve just
ordered a $700
IBM electric
with my gold
American Express
card.

it has an automatic
error-eraser
among its many other
features.
I’m going to hell
so fast
you’d never believe
it.

I might have to
forget expensive German wine
and go back to beer
in order to find
myself
again.

meanwhile, I
await
delivery.

sorrideva, raggiante, cantava, da “Sull’amore” (2016), Charles Bukowski

mia figlia assomigliava a una giovane Katharine Hepburn
alla recita di Natale delle elementari.
era lì in piedi insieme a tutti gli altri
sorrideva, raggiante, cantava
nel vestitino lungo che le avevo comperato.

sembra Katharine Hepburn, ho detto alla madre
che sedeva alla mia sinistra.
sembra Katharine Hepburn, ho detto alla mia ragazza
che sedeva alla mia destra.
la nonna di mia figlia era seduta un posto più in là;
non le ho detto niente.

non mi è mai piaciuto come recita Katharine Hepburn,
ma mi piaceva il suo aspetto,
classe, sai cosa intendo,
una con la quale potevi parlare a letto
quell’ora e mezzo prima di
addormentarti.

immagino che mia figlia diventerà una
donna bellissima.
un giorno quando sarò abbastanza vecchio
probabilmente mi porterà la padella con un sorriso
davvero gentile.
e forse si sposerà con un camionista dal passo
molto pesante
che gioca a bowling tutti i giovedì sera
con gli amici.
be’, tutto questo non ha importanza.
quello che importa è il presente.
sua nonna è un falco non le sfugge niente.
sua madre è una liberale psicotica e amante della vita.
suo padre è un ubriacone.

mia figlia assomigliava a una giovane Katharine Hepburn.
dopo la recita di Natale
siamo andati da McDonald’s a mangiare, e abbiamo dato da mangiare ai passerotti.
a Natale mancava una settimana.
questo ci interessava molto meno che agli altri nove decimi della città.
e questa è classe, tutti e due abbiamo classe.
per ignorare la vita al momento giusto ci vuole una speciale saggezza:
quindi Buon Anno a
tutti quanti voi.

(Traduzione di Simona Viciani)

smiling, shining, singing

my daughter looked like a young Katharine Hepburn,
at the grammar school Christmas presentation.
she stood there with them
smiling, shining, singing
in the long dress I had bought for her.

She looks like Katharine Hepburn, I told her mother
who sat on my left.
she looks like Katharine Hepburn, I told my girlfriend
who sat on my right.
my daughter’s grandmother was another seat away,
I didn’t tell her anything.

I never did like Katharine Hepburn’s acting,
but I liked the way she looked,
class, you know,
somebody you could talk to in bed
with an hour and a half before going to
sleep.

I can see that my daughter is going to be a most
beautiful woman.
someday when I get old enough
she’ll probably bring me the bedpan with a most
kindly smile.
and she’ll probably marry a truckdriver with a very
heavy walk
who bowls every Thursday night
with the boys.
well, all that doesn’t matter.
what matters is now.
her grandmother is a hawk of a woman.
her mother is a psychotic liberal and lover of life.
her father is a drunk.

my daughter looked like a very young Katharine Hepburn.
after the Christmas presentation
we went to McDonald’s and ate, and fed the sparrows.
Christmas was a week away.
we were less worried about that than nine-tenths of the town.
that’s class, we both have class.
to ignore life at the proper time takes a special wisdom:
like a Happy New Year to
you all.

_____________________
Manoscritto, 22 dicembre 1972; pubblicato in What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, 1999.