My first public reading with a famous poet was a disaster. I admired him. I was excited about the reading, but at the event he is aloof. He keeps his distance. When I’m introduced he moves to the far corner and stares out a window. He can’t be bothered. Since the university is hosting the famous poet, the professors follow his lead and look bored. For him they clap enthusiastically. After the reading I try to introduce my wife to the famous poet, but he creeps away without a word. We found that strangest of all. We joked that my poetry was so bad it made those around me look bad.
When we pick him up he’s already lit. He drinks beer after beer as we cruise down the coast. “Don’t throw up in my car,” I warn him. He says “take me wherever you Sicilian criminals are going,” so we laugh and end up at my cousin’s restaurant and social club. My friend helps Bukowski from the car. He stumbles and then lurches forward, almost falling. “Poon and tang. Poon and tang,” he chants like some private perverse mantra. Everything for this guy is about shit. We remind him to lower his voice; the regulars are not impressed. My cousin suggests the patio. I know I’ll hear about this later. Bukowski shouts for more “wop wine.” Paparazzi take photos. Someone at a nearby table says “what an asshole.”