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

Soldi, da “Orientarsi con le stelle”, Raymond Carver

Per poter vivere
dal lato giusto della legge.
Per poter usare sempre il suo nome
e il numero di telefono. Per pagare la cauzione
a un’amica e potersene
fregare se lei lascia la città.
Anzi, lui spera che lo faccia.
Per dare un po’ di soldi
a sua madre. E ai suoi
figli e alla loro madre.
Non per risparmiarli. Vuole
usarli tutti prima che finiscano.
Comprarcisi vestiti.
Pagarci l’affitto e le bollette.
Comprarci cibo e ancora cibo.
Andare a cena fuori quando gli pare.
E può permettersi
di ordinare qualsiasi cosa dal menu!
Comprarcisi la droga quando vuole.
Comprarcisi una macchina. E se si rompe
farla riparare. Oppure
comprarsene un’altra.
Vedete quella
barca? Magari se ne compra una
uguale.E ci doppierà
il Capo in cerca
di compagnia. Conosce una ragazza
a Porto Alegre a cui piacerebbe
rivederlo a bordo
della sua barca, a gonfie vele,
virare in porto solo per lei.
Un tizio che si può permettere
di arrivare fino a lì
per incontrarla. Solo perché
gli è piaciuto il suono
della sua risata,
e il modo in cui scuote la chioma.

(Traduzione di Riccardo Duranti e Francesco Durante)

Money

In order to be able to live
on the right side of the law.
To always use his own name
and phone number. To go bail
for a friend and not give
a damn if the friend skips town.
Hope, in fact, she does.
To give some money
to his mother. And to his
children and their mother,
not save it. He wants
to use it up before it’s gone.
Buy clothes with it.
Pay the rent and utilities.
Buy food, and then some.
Go out for dinner when he feels like it.
And it’s okay
to order anything off the menu!
Buy drugs when he wants.
Buy a car. If it breaks
down, repair it. Or else
buy another. See that
boat? He might buy one
just like it. And sail it
around the Horn, looking
for company. He knows a girl
in Port Alegre who’d love
to see him in
his own boat, sails full,
turn into the harbor for her.
A fellow who could afford
to come all this way
to see her. Just because
he liked the sound
of her laughter
and the way she swings her hair.

La tragedia delle foglie, da “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1983)”, Charles Bukowski

Mi destai alla siccità e le felci erano morte,
le piante in vaso gialle come grano;
la mia donna era sparita
e i cadaveri dissanguati delle bottiglie vuote
mi cingevano con la loro inutilità;
c’era ancora un bel sole, però,
e il biglietto della padrona ardeva d’un giallo caldo
e senza pretese; ora quello che ci voleva
era un buon attore, all’antica, un burlone capace di scherzare
sull’assurdità del dolore; il dolore è assurdo
perché esiste, solo per questo;
sbarbai accuratamente con un vecchio rasoio
l’uomo che un tempo era stato giovane e,
così dicevano, geniale; ma
questa è la tragedia delle foglie,
le felci morte, le piante morte;
ed entrai in una sala buia
dove stava la padrona di casa
insultante e ultimativa,
mandandomi all’inferno,
mulinando i braccioni sudati
e strillando
strillando che voleva i soldi dell’affitto
perché il mondo ci aveva tradito
tutt’e due.

The tragedy of the leaves

I awakened to dryness and the ferns were dead,
the potted plants yellow as corn;
my woman was gone
and the empty bottles like bled corpses
surrounded me with their uselessness;
the sun was still good, though,
and my landlady’s note cracked in fine and
undemanding yellowness; what was needed now
was a good comedian, ancient style, a jester
with jokes upon absurd pain; pain is absurd
because it exists, nothing more;
I shaved carefully with an old razor
the man who had once been young and
said to have genius; but
that’s the tragedy of the leaves,
the dead ferns, the dead plants;
and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
and screaming
screaming for rent
because the world has failed us
both.