8/29/91 10:55 PM
Slow at the track today, my damned life dangling on the hook. I am there every day. I don’t see anybody else out there every day except the employees. I probably have some malady. Saroyan lost his ass at the track, Fante at poker, Dostoevsky at the wheel. And it’s really not a matter of the money unless you run out of it. I had a gambler friend once who said, “I don’t care if I win or lose, I just want to gamble.” I have more respect for money. I’ve had very little of it most of my life. I know what a park bench is, and the landlord’s knock. There are only two things wrong with money: too much or too little.
I suppose there’s always something out there we want to torment ourselves with. And at the track you get the feel of the other people, the desperate darkness, and how easy they toss it in and quit. The racetrack crowd is the world brought down to size, life grinding against death and losing. Nobody wins finally, we are just seeking a reprieve, a moment out of the glare. (Shit, the lighted end of my cigarette just hit one of my fingers as I was musing on the purposelessness. That woke me up, brought me out of this Sartre state!). Hell, we need humor, we need to laugh. I used to laugh more, I used to do everything more, except write. Now, I am writing and writing and writing, the older I get the more I write, dancing with death. Good show. And I think the stuff is all right. One day they’ll say, “Bukowski is dead,” and then I will be truly discovered and hung from stinking bright lampposts. So what? Immortality is the stupid invention of the living. You see what the racetrack does? It makes the lines roll. Lightning and luck. The last bluebird singing. Anything I say sounds fine because I gamble when I write. Too many are too careful. They study, they teach and they fail. Convention strips them of their fire.
I feel better now, up here on this second floor with the Macintosh. My pal.
And Mahler is on the radio, he glides with such ease, taking big chances, one needs that sometimes. Then he sends in the long power rises. Thank you, Mahler, I borrow from you and I can never pay you back.I smoke too much, I drink too much but I can’t write too much, it just keeps coming and I call for more and it arrive sand mixes with Mahler. Sometimes I deliberately stop myself. I say, wait a moment, go to sleep or look at your 9 cats or sit with your wife on the couch. You’re either at the track or with the Macintosh. And then I stop, put on the brakes, park the damned thing. Some people have written that my writing has helped them go on. It has helped me too. The writing, the horses, the 9 cats.
There’s a small balcony here, the door is open and I can see the lights of the cars on the Harbor Freeway south, they never stop that roll of lights, on and on. All those people. What are they doing? What are they thinking? We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.
Keep it going, Mahler! You’ve made this a wondrous night. Don’t stop, you son-of-a-bitch! Don’t stop!
Bukowski, Charles. The Captain is out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. Il. Robert Crumb. Ecco 2002. p. 9-10.