Posted by: Tom Triumph | May 27, 2010

91. The House: Charles Bukowski

I did not think I would use a poem by Bukowski because of the language and subject matter of his work, but for older middle school students the love and beer is no shocking. More appropriate is the feeling of doom; surrounded by progress and hope and you just don’t….

How does it feel to not be on honor roll? Your whole life is ahead of you, and you KNOW it only gets harder, and still….

NBA dreams, but you don’t make the basketball team. Your parents…. A kid. Not a kid. A kid. And the teacher and parents and adults just chatter and talk about the future and how you need to buckle down….

Well, you get the idea. Have a good conversation about success. The pressure. Being a younger or older sibling; comparisons? You’re a kid, but…. Has the race already been run, and they are only thirteen?

The House
Charles Bukowski

They are building a house
half a block down
and I sit up here
with the shades down
listening to the sounds,
the hammers pounding in nails,
thack thack thack thack,
and then I hear birds,
and thack thack thack,
and I go to bed,
I pull the covers to my throat;
they have been building this house
for a month, and soon it will have
its people…sleeping, eating,
loving, moving around,
but somehow
now
it is not right,
there seems a madness,
men walk on top with nails
in their mouths
and I read about Castro and Cuba,
and at night I walk by
and the ribs of the house show
and inside I can see cats walking
the way cats walk,
and then a boy rides by on a bicycle
and still the house is not done
and in the morning the men
will be back
walking around on the house
with their hammers,
and it seems people should not build houses
anymore,
it seems people should not get married
anymore,
it seems people should stop working
and sit in small rooms
on 2nd floors
under electric lights without shades;
it seems there is a lot to forget
and a lot not to do,
and in drugstores, markets, bars,
the people are tired, they do not want
to move, and I stand there at night
and look through this house and the
house does not want to be built;
through its sides I can see the purple hills
and the first lights of evening,
and it is cold
and I button my coat
and I stand there looking through the house
and the cats stop and look at me
until I am embarrased
and move North up the sidewalk
where I will buy
cigarettes and beer
and return to my room.

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