Classical Music Lover

Classical Music Lover

I was sitting behind the cash register
In Eastside Bookstore
On a warm summer afternoon
In June, 1976.

The evening junkie group nod
Hadn’t started yet,
But they would eventually
Shuffle in, one after another,
And assume their usual positions
In front of the poetry section
Where they would lean slowly
Forwards and then backwards
So far, you’d think they’d fall
But they never did,
Defying gravity for hours
Until the end of the night.

When I had to close
I would gently tell them:
“You really do
Have to leave now,”
But I never touched them
Because I’d learned
From bitter experience
How badly it freaked them out—
They’d scream and wave their arms around
Knocking books off the shelves
And I’d have to beat a retreat
Back to the register.

Anyway, I was listening
To The Velvet Underground,
My favorite band at the time
Turned up real loud on the stereo
When a grizzled gentleman
Stepped into my field of vision
Glared at me, then snapped:
“Turn that shit off and play
Some decent classical music!”
I almost said “Fuck you!”
But I recognized him–
It was Charles Bukowski,
Probably in town for a reading.

“I like this music and I’m not
Taking it off,” I said,
Expecting an angry reply
But he surprised me
By apologizing instead.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,”
He muttered, turning on his heels
And leaving the store.

To this day, I say everything
Three times, a la Bukowski
And I wish I’d told him
How much I liked
His novel, Post Office,
Which I’ve read
At least three times.

An excerpt from Ron Kolm’s new book, A Change in the Weather, published by Sensitive Skin Books, is available now at Amazon.


Poetry Writing

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