Bukowski and the Three Flies

From his father’s crap he falls
into the bar and plops his basket
down on a stool and asks
for a tall Falstaff.
Three flies fasten to him,
ogling the brew.

One runs her fingers through his thick brew
and pules until he falls
into her arms and she pulls him
off his stout cask
and steals a sip of his Falstaff.
Another asks,

touching his face masked,
with slender pink nails running the rim of his brew,
tracing the scars on his face,
when did he first fall
spoiled and askew.
The third takes off his shoes and hums a hymn,

tenderly rubbing his feet, humming,
his feet half-soled with beach tar, trash
cans, hums for three hours until Buk is as sober as
an oaken church pew,
and the bar flies all fall
to the bottom of a glass stuck with Falstaff.

Bukowski from the floor asks for a pint of Falstaff,
singing a rum tum hymn,
swatting the air for the flies just fallen.
The stout sober poet stands ajar and asks
for just one last brew.
He rises and drifts like a hot air balloon falls,

and bewildered asks
for a full glass of Falstaff,
a newly fresh falling brew.
Buk’s humming the fly’s hymn,
up again, like an upright cask,
but his hoops break apart and the large man falls,

misses the last call, and the bartender hoses and flushes him
and the fallen Falstaff and the flies from the bar, a huge task,
washes out the flies and brew, and into the gutter they barrel.


  1. Love the sestina!


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thx, CB. Contemplating a baseball sestina, six inning game.


  2. Dan Hennessy says:

    Falstaff . Very Shakespearean ! And Bukowski . Can you get Falstaff anywhere anymore ? What did old poet Buk think of craft beers and Shakespeare and W.H,Auden ?


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Falstaff has fallen from the shelves. Sales fell too low. A craft beer for Buk was probably drinking beer from a bottle instead of a can. What is craft beer but the gentrification of a past time?


  3. I never attempted a Sestina. Arranging words around the form might please my obsessional streak, and I guess it’s fun once you get caught up in it. Did you break rules here, in a creative way? I like the play with ask – masked – cask – task – and the Falstaff as a brew brewing into lovely surreal sounds.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, always looking for opportunities to break a writing rule and get away clean with it. For some good sestinas, check out Elizabeth Bishop. But I also don’t follow her rule about taking poetry seriously, but she wasn’t talking to me. Anyway, with Bishop, you sometimes forget you are even reading a sestina, so subtle her lines weave around the spiral.


      1. I think I would have liked Miss Bishop.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, what’s happenin’?


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