In addition to his fiction and poetry, Charles Bukowski is the author of one of the best political essays ever written. It was originally published in a volume entitled, Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness. That volume has since been split in two and published under the titles The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Tales of Ordinary Madness, both published by City Lights. The essay below appears in the former. I hope City Lights won’t be too pissed that I reprinted it here. Pardon the lack of capital letters; that’s the way he wrote it.
POLITICS IS LIKE TRYING TO SCREW A CAT IN THE ASS
"Dear Mr. Bukowski: Why don't you ever write about politics or world affairs?"
"Dear M.K.: What for? Like, what's new? --- everybody knows the bacon is burning."
our raving takes place quite quietly while we are staring down at the hairs of a rug --- wondering what the shit went wrong when they blew up the trolley full of jellybeans with the poster of Popeye the Sailor stuck on the side.
that's all that matters: the good dream gone, and when that's gone it's all gone. the rest is horseshit games for the Generals and money-makers, speaking of which --- I see where another U.S. bomber full of H-bombs fell out of the sky again --- THIS time into the sea while SUPPOSEDLY protecting my life. the State Dept. says the H-bombs were "unarmed," whatever that means. then we continue to read where one of the H-bombs (lost) had split open and was spreading radioactive shit everywhere while supposedly protecting me WHILE I hadn't even asked for protection. the difference between a Democracy and a Dictatorship is that in a Dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting.
getting back to the H-bomb dropout --- a little while back the same thing happened off the coast of SPAIN. (we are everywhere, protecting me.) again the bombs get lost --- careless little toys. it took them 3 months --- if I remember properly --- to find and lift that last bomb out of there. It may have been 3 weeks but to the people in that coast town it must have seemed 3 years. that last bomb --- the god damned thing had gotten itself wedged on the edge of a sandhill far down in the sea. and everytime they tried to hook the thing, so tenderly, it would shake loose and roll a little further down the hill. meanwhile, all the poor people in that coast town were tossing in their beds at night wondering if they'd be blown to hell, courtesy of the Stars and Stripes. of course, the U.S. State Dept. issued a statement saying the H-bomb had no detonation fuse, but meanwhile the rich had left for other parts and the American sailors and townspeople looked very nervous. (after all, it the things couldn't blow up what were they flying them around for? might as well carry 2-ton salamis. fuse means "spark" or "trigger," and "spark" can come from anywhere, and "trigger" means "jolt" or any similar action that will set off the firing mechanism. NOW the terminology is "unarmed," which sounds safer but is the same thing.) anyhow, they hooked at the bomb but as the saying goes, the thing seemed to have a mind of its own. then a few undersea storms came about and our lovely little bomb rolled further and further down its hill.
the sea is very deep, much deeper than our leadership.
finally, special equipment was designed just to haul bomb-ass and the thing was pulled from the sea. Palomares. yes, that's where it happened: Palomares. and you know what they did next? the American Navy had a BAND CONCERT in the town park in celebration of finding the bomb - if the thing wasn't dangerous they were really cutting loose. yes, and the sailors played the music and everyone came together in one big sexual and spiritual release. whatever happened to the bomb they pulled out of the sea, I don't know, nobody (except the few) knows, and the band played on while 1,000 tons of radio- active Spanish topsoil was shipped to Aiken, S.C. in sealed containers. I'll be the rent is cheap in Aiken, S.C.
so now our bombs are swimming and sinking, chilled and "un-armed" about Iceland.
so what do you do when you've got the people's minds on something not so good? easy, you get their minds on something else. they can only think about one thing at a time. like, all right, headline of Jan. 23, 1968: B-52 CRASHES OFF GREENLAND WITH H-BOMBS; DANES IRKED. Danes irked? oh, mother!
anyhow, suddenly, Jan. 24, headline: NORTH KOREANS SEIZE U.S. NAVY SHIP.
oh boy, patriotism is back! why, those dirty bastards! I thought THAT war was over! ah ha, I see --- the REDS! Korean puppets!
it says under the A.P. wirephoto, something like this --- the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo --- formerly an army cargo ship, now converted into one of the Navy's secret spy ships equipped with electric monitoring gear and oceanographic equipment was forced into Wonsan Harbor off the coast of North Korea. those dirty Red bastards, always fucking around!
but I DID notice that the lost H-bomb story got shoved into a small space: "Radiation Detected at B-52 Crash Site; Split Bomb hinted."
we are told that the president was awakened between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. and told of the capture of the Pueblo. I presume he went back to sleep.
the U.S. says the Pueblo was in international waters; the Koreans say the ship was in territorial waters. one country is lying, one is not. then one wonders, what good is a spy ship in international waters? it's like wearing a raincoat on a sunny day. the closer you can get on in, the better your instruments pick up.
headline: Jan. 26, 1968: U.S. CALLS UP 14,700 AIR RESERVISTS. the lost H-bombs off Iceland have completely disappeared from print as if it had never happened.
Sen. John C. Stennis (D.-Miss.) said Mr. Johnson's decision (the call-up of Air Reserves) was "necessary and justified" and added, "I hope he will not hesitate to mobilize ground reserve components as well."
Senate minority leader, Richard B. Russell (D.-Ga.): "In the last analysis, this country must get the return of that ship and the men that were seized. After all, great wars have started from much less serious incidents than this."
House Speaker John W. McCormack (D.-Mass.): "The American people have to wake up to the realization that communism is still bent on world domination. there is too much apathy about it."
I think that if Adolph Hitler were around now he would pretty much enjoy the present scene. what's there to say about politics and world affairs? the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban crisis, spy planes, spy ships, Vietnam, Korea, lost H-bombs, riots in American cities, starvation in India, purge in Red China? are there good guys and bad guys? some that always lie, some that never lie? are there good governments and bad governments? no, there are only bad governments and worse governments. will there be a flash of light and heat that rips us apart one night while we are screwing or crapping or reading the comic strips or pasting blue-chip stamps into a book? instant death is nothing new, nor is mass instant death new. But we've improved the product; we've had these centuries of knowledge and culture and discovery to work with; the libraries are fat and crawling and overcrowded with books; great paintings sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars; medical science is transplanting the human heart; you can't tell a madman from a sane one upon the streets, and suddenly we find our lives, again, in the hands of the idiots. the bombs may never drop; the bombs might drop. eeney, meeney, miney, mo-
now if you'll forgive me, dear readers, I'll get back to the whores and the horses and the booze, while there's time. if these contain death, then, to me, it seems far less offensive to be responsible for your own death than the other kind which is brought to you fringed with phrases of Freedom and Democracy and Humanity and/or any of all that Bullshit.
first post, 12:30. first drink, now. and the whores will always be around. Clara, Penny, Alice, Jo- eeny, meeney, miney, mo-