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what will the neighbors think? (excerpt) by Charles Bukowski

I think that was the question asked most of me
by my parents.
of course, I didn’t really care what the
neighbors thought.
I felt sorry for the neighbors, those frightened
people peeking from behind their
curtains.
the whole neighborhood was watching
itself
and in the 1930s there wasn’t much else to
watch.
except me coming in drunk late at
night.

“this is going to kill your mother,”
my father told me,
“and besides what will the
neighbors think?”

me, I thought I was doing very well.
one way or the other
I managed to get drunk
without having any
money at all.
a trick that would stand me in good
stead
later in my life.

to make things worse for my poor
parents
I began to write letters to the
editor of one of the large
newspapers,
most of which were published
and all of which
backed unpopular causes.

“what will the neighbors think?”
my parents asked
me.

SOURCE: Read “what will the neighbors think?” in its entirety in Charles Bukowski’s collection Bone Palace Ballet (Ecco, 2001), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: Charles Bukowski with his parents, late 1930s.