I wander toward Joes and pass by a leopard-skin painted newspaper dispenser and a blurb catches my eye: Charles Bukowski reviews John Claude Smith's The Dark is Light Enough for Me. It's above the headline, a Look Inside feature that snags me like a barbed hook in the back of my brain. I insert the appropriate coins, the mouth opens wide, and I start to reach in to get the last copy, pull it from view and leave the emptiness to its own designs.
And the dispenser growls.
I'm swift to yank the paper from the wire slot and let the mouth slam shut. The dispenser is now empty, yet I can see swirling dust formulating tomorrow's headlines, awaiting the paper upon which they will be printed.
Odd. But should I expect anything less than oddness here?
I open to section C, page 39--yes, it's a large newspaper--and there it is.
Charles Bukowski Strolls Through Smith's Darkness.
dorothy came home with a book. she's always bringing home books. the cover on this one intrigued me, crazy looking women with eyes in her palms with a room below her, this stark, desolate room. the kind of room I know well. i open it, flipping the pages until a title grabs me. "I Want to Take You Higher." i read it and smile at the addictions worn like gauze over always sticky wounds. dorothy brings me a beer. she's learned well. she may not be here next week, but she's learned well for now. i flip the pages to another story. "The Sunglasses Girl." i like her. i don't care if she's not what she seems. i like her. dorothy sits on my lap. "hey, what's got you hot, baby?" i can't hide my enjoyment. i don't answer her. she pouts. i move on to the title story. dear god, this one makes me want to take dorothy right there on the kitchen table. It also makes me want to take a hot shower, a brain wash. nasty piece of work. dark, dark words. i like this smith. no fear. "hey," dorothy says. "aint' ya gonna pay attention to me? especially if you're waving around that loaded gun?" she squirms on my lap, chewing gum popping in her overly lipsticked mouth. red. as I like her. "one more," i say. she pouts again. a story called, "Make Pretty." i've known people like all of these characters, hollywood folks. back on earth, in that other dimension. this one's insidious. this story, not this dimension. this dimension is all I've got now. and dorothy. "done?" dorothy asks. i look up at her, want to read more, but she's got something i need. i'll finish the book tomorrow. "yeah, done," i say. she says, "i love you, baby," and hands me another beer. she doesn't mind my smoking. doesn't mind my holy socks or grizzled appearance. she's my gutter princess, stockings bunched at her knees. tonight we'll know paradise or get drunk and it won't matter. tomorrow? well...that's another day. but this book. yeah, I like it. it's got an edge. got some harsh truths, even in the speculative landscapes smith explores. i recommend you pick up a copy and read it with a woman squirming on your lap as well.
So, I could go on and on, quite pleased with Bukowski's er...review, yeah...but I'll just leave you with ordering info and a smile and...I wonder who or what we'll run into next time?
Have a Splendid Day/Eve/Night/Afternoon!
Barnes & Noble:
And, of course, I couldn't end this post without a photo of the one and only Charles Bukowski. I believe this photo may actually have been taken just after he set down my book, with Dorothy on his lap, and mischief on their minds.