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William Taylor Jr.

Centuries More Alive

In some dirty old bookstore in downtown San Francisco
I found a copy of Hustler Magazine from 1976

featuring an interview with Charles Bukowski.
He was in his mid-fifties and just reaching
the height of his fame.

In the photographs he's got
a bit of a snarl on his face,
a smoldering in his eyes.

He comes off as somewhat nasty
and full of himself, but reading it
felt like a brush with livelier times.

He said some things that would have
buried him now, things that would never
have made it to print.

For the better, you might say,
and fair enough

but there was an energy there,
some moxie, a kind of ragged joy
that feels largely absent
from the present times

and I'm a bit wistful about it all.

I miss the 20th century.
I miss porno magazines
and Charles Bukowski..

The day at hand feels
beleaguered and half-alive,
just wanting to lie down somewhere
and be done with it all.

The poet is long dead, and the young girls
in the glossy photographs are old, their bodies
now just something else to hide.

I open a beer just like Bukowski would,
turn on the stereo and disappear
into music from centuries
more alive than this one.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The Chiron Review. He is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. He edited Cocky Moon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline (Zeitgeist Press, 2014). Pretty Things to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.


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