The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountainby Charles Bukowski, John Martin (Editor), John Martin (Editor)
Throwing away the alarm clock my father always said, "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." It was lights out at 8 p.m. in our house and we were up at dawn to the smell of coffee, frying bacon and scrambled eggs. My father followed this general routine for a lifetime and died young, broke, and, I think, not too wise. Taking note, I
Throwing away the alarm clock my father always said, "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." It was lights out at 8 p.m. in our house and we were up at dawn to the smell of coffee, frying bacon and scrambled eggs. My father followed this general routine for a lifetime and died young, broke, and, I think, not too wise. Taking note, I rejected his advice and it became, for me, late to bed and late to rise. Now, I'm not saying I've conquered the world but I've avoided numberless early traffic jams, bypassed some common pitfalls and have met some strange, wonderful people one of whom was myself someone my father never knew.
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The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain
being the German kid in the 20's in Los Angeles
there was much anti-German feeling then,
a carry-over from World War I.
gangs of kids chased me through the neighborhood
yelling, "Hienie! Hienie! Hienie!"
they never caught me.
I was like a cat.
I knew all the paths through brush and alleys.
I scaled 6-foot back fences in a flash and was off through
backyards and around blocks
and onto garage roofs and other hiding places.
then too, they didn't really want to catch me.
they were afraid I might bayonet them
or gouge out their eyes.
this went on for about 18 months
then all of a sudden it seemed to stop.
I was more or less accepted (but never really)
which was all right with me.
those sons-of-bitches were Americans,
they and their parents had been born here.
they had names like Jones and Sullivan and
they were pale and often fat with runny
noses and big belt buckles.
I decided never to become an American.
my hero was Baron Manfred von Richthofen
the German air ace;
he'd shot down 80 of their best
and there was nothing they could do about
their parents didn't like my parents
(I didn't either) and
I decided when I got big I'd go live in some place
never open my door to anybody and live on my
luck, live with a beautiful wife and a bunch of wild
which is, more or less, what
New Poems. Copyright © by CharlesBukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
- Date of Birth:
- August 16, 1920
- Date of Death:
- March 9, 1994
- Place of Birth:
- Andernach, Germany
- Place of Death:
- San Pedro, California
- Los Angeles City College, 2 years
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