the devious good of rescuing the suffering by Charles Bukowski

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once very thin and nervous
like a starving musician
I fed him well
and he has gotten fat
like a Texas oilman and not so
nervous
but still
odd.

asleep in bed I will awaken
and his nose will be touching my
nose and those
yellow great eyes
P O U R I N G
down into what’s left of my soul
and then I will say —
off, bastard!
get your nose away from my
nose!
purring like a spider full of
flies he will walk off a
little.

I was in the bathtub yesterday
and he came walking in
high on his feet
tail flicking
and I am in there
smoking a cigar and reading the
NEW YORKER
and he leaped up on the edge of the
tub
balancing on the slippery ivory
curving
and I told him
sir, you are a cat and cats
don’t like water.
but he went around to the faucets
and he hung there with his black feet
and the other part of him was
head down
sniffing at the water and the water was
HOT and he started drinking it
the thin red tongue
bashful and miraculous
dipping into the hot water
and he kept
sniffing
wondering what I was doing in there
what I found so good about it
and then that fat white fool
fell in! —
we all came out of there
wet and fast;
cat, me, cigar and NEW YORKER
spitting, screaming, sputtering, soaked
and my wife ran in
MY GOD! WHAT HAPPENED?WHAT HAPPENED?
I spoke through my unraveling cigar:
a man can’t even have a little privacy
in his own bathtub, that’s what!
she only laughed at us
and the cat was not even angry
he was still wet and fat
except for his tail and very sad and
he began licking
himself.
I used a towel,
then I walking into the bedroom
got into bed
and tried to find my place in the
magazine.

but the good mood was broken
I put the publication down
and stared up at the ceiling
up into space where God was supposed to be
then I hear it:
MEEYOWW!

the next stray cat who comes to my door will
remain a
stray.

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