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Rated: E · Poetry · Dark · #2256761
a road not taken
Charles Bukowski Road Not Chosen 
John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller 

Published in Down in the Dirt, March 2017

While reading Charles Bukowski poetry 
On the metro ride home 
Listening to Buddha bar music 
On my oh too hip IPod 

I begin to see myself as I was 
Over 30 years ago when I was merely a bit player 
A minor character in a Charles Bukowski poem 

A wild young underemployed intellectual 
Hanging out in dismal bars and dives all over Asia and California 
Hanging with disreputable women and drunks and drinkers 
And characters out of his kinds of haunts 

A mad poet bard of the underground 
A drunken poet in a drunken bum show 
That nightly played in his head 

Then one day I met the women of my dreams 
And went down a different path 
A long slow path to respectability 

And now 30 years later 
I am no longer a wild man 
I am still a poet at heart 
But I am now also a bureaucrat 
In a button down suite 

Doing the people’s business 
Working for the Government 
I’ve become the Man 

Sometimes I wonder 
Would I have been better off 
Going down that another path 

Would I have ended up 
Somewhere else 
Doing something else 

Would I have been as happy 
Would I have been as successful? 

There is no answer that satisfies 
The longing in my heart 
For that wild thing 
That still lurks beneath 
It’s civilized cover 

And I know that I am still 
A mad poet at heart 
Railing against the injustice of the world 

As I work day by day in the belly of the great beast of State 
I recall the ancient Chinese saying, 
“Confucian during the day while Taoist rebel at night” 
Playing out in my head and nightly dreams 
In the true American Upper class patrician tradition 

I close the book and look out the window 
Get off the train, and walk slowly home 

And realize I had no choice 
But to take the path that I’ve trodden on 

And so I put aside my misgivings 
And say goodbye to my “Bukowskian” desires 
For another night of domestic contentment 

Was it worth it all to take the conventional path 
And not take the bohemian road to hell and back 

I look at my wife and realize 
I had no choice, had no choice 
But to follow her to the ends of the earth 

And beyond by her side as we walked our path 
Of shared destiny 

Goodbye Charles Bukowski wherever you are 
May I meet you in a bar in the next life 
And figure out where we should have gone 

Until then the drinks are on me. 

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