A Glass Jar Away

Since my last skunk poem blew up the net

I thought I’d hit you with another true tale

concerning our brother or sister, the skunk.

I was driving along as I often am

Just trying to get back to the mattress

when a minor flurry of motion

caused me to pull over and curse.

In a small grassy area between streets

was a large skunk shaking its head

but I couldn’t quite make out a face

because the head was stuck in a

glass jar. The pathos of the sight

sent waves of nausea from my

gut to my mind. Speeding cars

whizzed by on either side:

creatures on their way to

ball games, churches, grocery

stores, illicit trysts, and family

gatherings. I approached the

skunk and saw that he’d never

get that jar off his head by

himself. I also saw the long claws

attached to his front paws.

I had to help, but I didn’t want to

end up in a death camp called a

hospital, so I strained my brain

a minute, ran to the car, pulled out

the work gloves and a crutch.

I lightly placed the padded end

of the crutch over the front paws

then pulled the jar with both hands.

It came off. The skunk lifted his snout

in the grey air and took some

breaths. He looked okay. I brought some

cat food from the car and placed it

it near him. He sat there

on the grass and looked at it.

I hopped in the car and headed back

to the mattress. At home I kept thinking

about him. I called a rehabber who said I

should have syringe fed him honey just

in case. I was too tired and soul sick to move.

The next day I drove back to the

scene. The skunk was gone along with

most of the food. The old mattress felt a

little better after that.

— Fyodor Bukowski

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Skunk 130

It was a homeless cat feeding day

I was driving down towards the

mostly heartless city early,

less chance of getting yelled at

or ticketed that way

I passed a skunk by the side

of the road. I figured he was

already frolicking at the Rainbow

Bridge, and I had to get to the cats

so I kept driving. After putting food

out at five locations, on my way back

I saw the skunk again and pulled over

just in case he was still with us here

on this mostly heartless Earth.

His head was upright. No blood and

he seemed intact. I cursed our maker

for doing this to the skunk and for

doing this to me again. I decided that

he needed help more than I needed to

maintain my present smell, so I pulled

work gloves and a paper shopping bag

from the back seat. I put him (or her)

in the bag. A cop pulled over and

asked me if I needed help. Then I cursed

the worthless inhuman trash that

hit the skunk and all of those that drove by.

The officer smiled and called me by name

though I never gave him my name.

He suggested I call a local wildlife center.

He even gave me the number. I explained

the skunk’s plight to the lady there, and I offered

to pay. She had to ask someone else if they

could be of help, and then she came back on

and gave me another number. Long story short,

I called number after number: wildlife rehabbers,

animal emergency clinics, etc. One voice after another

told me to call this other number. One voice told me

that it would be illegal for me to try and keep the skunk

in my county. I told him that I live in my

own country and that his county could go________.

Finally, I left a voice message to a lady

who I was assured would help. I put the

skunk in the trunk and drove to the pet store.

They didn’t have any skunk food, and after I

watched a few online videos and learned that

I should syringe feed him some honey and other

stuff, no one at the pet store would help. The

ugly young lady manager there explained that

skunks are considered “nuisance animals.”

As I fed him in the carrier in my back seat,

a bee attacked, and I cursed God once again.

The skunk ate a little honey I bought at the

supermarket and some chicken broth too.

It seemed that a back leg or both were broken

Those front legs were swinging those long claws at me

but I couldn’t blame him. I hid the carrier with him in it

under my porch. The skunk rehabber messaged back and

told me to put a blanket over him and to swirl an egg in some water.

She also said that she was going to a family function and that

she would call me back in a few hours at which time I

could head over to her place with the skunk.

I looked at the comments at her rehabbing location.

One stated that she never called the commenter back.

I didn’t have any eggs. I collapsed on the mini mattress

in my room because I was exhausted and it was getting late.

A few hours went by with no call back, so I got in the car

and headed out to her locale with the skunk. He was

starting to shake. I fed him again. His face reminded me of

the face of a dearly departed cat who passed only days before.

We drove and drove. After nearly two hours we arrived at a

semi-rural destination.

A car with windows rolled down sat in the drive. I knocked

on the screen door. The wooden door behind it was open.

A dog with a healed hole in his forehead ran along the fence

bordering the driveway. I went back to the car. Under the

garbage bag and shirt I put over him, the skunk

was shaking worse than before. I tried calling and texting

the skunk rebber lady.

Finally, I found her Facebook page and left an emergency

message. I pulled the carrier out of the car and tried feeding

the skunk again. Then the lady appeared from out of her front door.

I had envisioned her as a sweet old Aunt Bee, but she was an

ordinary-looking middle-aged lady with a crazed look on her

face. I realized that I’d been moving very slowly, so

I explained to her in my meekest voice that I wasn’t drunk

(I wasn’t), just very tired

because I’d been up since 5:00 am.

She started in on me. “THAT’S my life EVERY DAY.

I TOLD YOU THAT I WOULD CALL!” I explained

that because it was such a long drive and the skunk

was shaking, I thought I should get a head start

driving. She continued to harangue me. Then she

explained that she’d been at a family function to

celebrate the memory of her dearly departed son

who had died one year ago that day. I expressed

my regrets, but she hadn’t mentioned that on the

phone, and the skunk was shaking. And there was

literally no one else. There on her lawn, in front of

the shaking skunk in the carrier, as I stared into her grief

and anger crazed face, as she continued to dress me down

and inform me that she had already cared for 129 forlorn

skunks this year alone while she help down her job,

I realized that she was a Saint driven nearly mad because

most people were heartless and wouldn’t help skunks, so

the burdens all fell upon her. I remembered my dearly departed

cat and continued to wonder if I could have done things differently

and saved him.

I realized that I did not feel the presence of God

I started shaking and crying aloud, and no manly efforts

on my part could stop my tears. I blubbered that I was sorry

but that there was no one else. She softened when I told her

about my cat and handed me a form to fill out. There was a

blank for donation. I asked her how much. She said, “Whatever

you want” then “Don’t worry about that.” I gave her 5 twenties and

said through my tears that she deserved much more. And of

course she did. She said that was generous of me and picked

up the skunk in her blanket just like he was a baby. I thanked God

for the lady.

She said she would call me. I said that I would adopt the skunk if

he makes it. She said she would call. She never called.

–Fyodor Bukowski

Francis the Homeless Cat

Skinny and grey

he leapt into my trailer

then looked around nervously.

I popped a can of cat food

and he chomped away as his

eyes darted around at the

mysterious and dark

surroundings.

I already had cats

so I put him back outside.

About a week later he

appeared at the back door

looking even skinnier and

greyer in the harsh light.

This time I put him in the car

and drove him to the vet.

The vet showed me that

the he was covered with

caked fecal matter and fleas,

and we could both see that his eyes

were oozing yellow goo.

He put the anti-flea solution on him,

gave me some antibiotics,

cat shampoo,

and vitamins for him.

The cat was very old

and had missing teeth.

When I got him home

I told him he could stay.

I would be his

retirement plan.

I figured I could do better

for him than nature had.

I gave him a bath and

kept him in the bedroom

where he rested his tired bones

in a premium cat bed and

ate voraciously. He’d had it

rough outside, so I even

got him a bubbling cat fountain

and a glow-in-the-dark collar

with his new name and info.

engraved on a heart-shaped tag.

As I rested on my futon,

he lay on my chest and looked

at me. When I turned on my

stomach, he jumped on my back and slept.

And when I turned on my side

he managed to balance there,

his head held up proudly

like the Sphinx.

Then the diarrhea came

and came.

No big deal.

I cleaned it up.

He was more than worth

the effort.

He’d been neutered

before he came to me,

so I guessed that he’d been

someone’s cat but then

abandoned.

People are beasts.

Sometimes he made it to

the litter pan.

He did his best.

The vet advised trying

boiled chicken and rice

for a while to settle his stomach,

so I cooked

for the first time in many years.

Then, about a month after I

adopted him, he stopped

eating altogether, wouldn’t

touch the chicken or the

different brands of cat food.

He couldn’t

even get up. The vet said

he was moribund and had

reached the end.

I didn’t want him to suffer

or die

alone when I was at work,

so I stayed with him as the vet

prepared the needle that

would help him pass. I told

Francis that his soul could

follow me home or go ahead

to that painless place

where I would be with him

again someday.

Afterwards I stayed in the

exam room with him for a

while. Then I took his collar

and put it in my pocket.

You are my boy, Francis,

and I was lucky to have you.

I will follow you home

someday.

— Fyodor Bukowski

My Life as a Chopper

Some want that Ninja life

crouched down over the

gas tank, zooming and buzzing

up and down life’s roads.

I’d rather lean back low

behind the gleaming

high handlebars of an

American chopper.

Think Peter Fonda

in Easy Rider.

Riding Easy

Taking it slow

It’s the way a man

travels when he knows

that there’s really

nowhere

to

go.

— Fyodor Bukowski

Who is This?

I try texting this doll face

I’d enjoyed some dances from

At a hole in the wall club

Years ago. Absurd, I know.

Then I get the inevitable

reply: “Who is this?” Without

punctuation of any kind.

The reply opens up a

Pandora’s box of worms.

So I leave the lid closed.

A few minutes later I get

a cryptic text from a different

Number with a different area

Code:

“We haven’t seen you

in a long time how have

you been” I reply: “Who is

this please?” A few minutes

later: “Is this not Elly? This is

Danielle. Don’t you remember?”

And that reply came with a pic

of a professionally dressed cute

Asian lady. What are the chances

I smirk and sigh. Like Charlie

Brown with the football I have

to try. Long story short a few

texts later I determine the sender to

Be a scammer unrelated to the

baby faced black girl from the

trap.

Who is this? Who is this?

It’s the question Emperor Wu

Asked the Bodhidharma.

It’s the question Jesus asked

his apostles. The question we

ask of someone we thought

we knew until…

and it’s the question

I ask you

and myself

too

–Fyodor Bukowski

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Johnny Depp, Rock Star šŸ˜†

I sometimes chance upon a

video so ludicrous that it makes

me smile. Once involves a certain

Hollywood actor famous for playing

a pirate based on the mannerisms of

Keith Richards. I don’t watch films, but

that’s all well and good. I understand

his character brings great joy to young

and old. But to see him barely playing

guitar while costumed like a reject from

a Guns n Roses cover band and sharing

the stage with Jeff Beck no less is a

bit much, especially for a guy like me who takes

shots of Pepto-Bismol to get through

tbe day. Keith Richards

gave everything he had to his music

and that’s why he’s still legit up there

while guys like Johnny just don’t deserve

that stage. Is Jeff Beck so starved for

attention? Does he think he might get

Sloppy seconds on some of Johnny’s

teenaged fans? I smile as I think of all

the starving and talented guitarists out there

Who could be saved by playing with Jeff.

Then I find that Johnny’s talents extend

to the world of painting and who knows

what else. It’s gratifying to know that

That his paintings sell while Van Gogh

died unrecognized. Of course, the moronic

Will attribute all this to envy and hate,

But I don’t begrudge the man his acting

Accolades or his wealth. In fact,

I googled “Johnny Depp animal rights” in

The hopes of finding some nugget about

Wonderful things he’s done for animals,

But what came up was an allegation

From his ex that he dangled their dog

Out a car window and threatened to put

It in a microwave. Hollywood Vampire

And cartoony Keith Richards knock off

Pirate, man of myriad talents and owner of

one

Hell of a greasy self satisfied smirk, I

Salute you, American hero, Johnny Depp.

— Fyodor Bukowski

Sneezin’ Jack Splash

I was teaching guitar lessons

at a mom and pop music shop

when Jack and his pop came in.

He wanted to play classic rock,

which was what I was weaned on,

so I got him into Wolf Marshall’s

Basics 1 book and before too long

he was playing “Sympathy for the

Devil” and “Jumping Jack Flash,”

etc. though he seemed a bit slow

in some ways and clearly preferred

playing Dungeons and Dragons with

a collection of nerds on the net to

practicing his minor pentatonic scales.

All in all, he was an ok kid, though his

progress was glacial, I liked his musical

taste because he smiled when I

demonstrated this or that piece or let

loose with some licks. One day he came

in ranting about what someone had said

about something Bill Gates had said, and

Though I soon steered his attention to

musical matters at hand, it struck me as

Strange that he should defend old Gates

with such vehemence, but I chalked it up

to honor among nerds. Well, it was the

year of COVID, and before long Jack

developed a nasty habit of sneezing in

that tiny lesson room, which in itself was

ok, except for the fact that he never

Covered his mouth and one sneeze hit me

across the face like a splash. I presented

him with one of the clear face shields the

owner of the place handed out, but Jack

always managed to take it off in the

middle of the lesson, sneeze up the place,

then saunter into the lesson room the very

next week like nothing had happened.

Long story short, I ended up calling

his mom and explained the matter in

a message. With much finesse, I said

that he was a great kid but might be

allergic to the cat hair on my clothes, etc.

and suggested he try one of the other

teachers. And while it wasn’t a “gas gas

gas” to have to fire him like that, at least

I’m one nerd less likely now to get another

splash of spit across my face.

— fyodor bukowski

What Happened to Who I Used to be?

What happened to that me

Who picked up old receipts

Off the road half-expecting

To see messages from God

Written on them

Or that me who rode my mini-bike

Past the lovely girl’s house

Dozens of times a day

Half expecting to see her

Walk down that long driveway

To wave me into her life

Or that me who got into that old

Nash Rambler with my half-psycho

Father every Sunday to suffer his

Lies and cigarette smoke and farts?

What happened to that me who prayed

for a UFO to land in my backyard to

take me to a planet full of honest

full-time fathers, a God who spoke

directly to all who called,

and a lovely girl with my name

In her heart?

— Fyodor Bukowski

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poem i couldnt write

there is pain so great

it cant be written

or sung

there are poems

that should never

grow tongues

great pain when fresh

writes no poems

it knows only

contorted faces

acid tears

ugly howls

and silence.

i would have

Made myself

Silent and

softened these

features forever

Were it not for

Those innocent eyes

which accomplished

what religions

and women

failed to do

because if i open

that drawer

and end this pain

with one pull

what would they do

but starve

and go mad

with questions

not to be answered?

their innocent wide

Moist eyes

like little worlds

exerting gravitational pull

enough

to keep me

bound to this

howling rock

for God knows

how long

When the Brain Bleeds

i was writing an epic poem

in ottava rima and was told

by a few of discerning taste

and acerbic tongue that

it was funny, and witty, and

original, but after a day

followed by many others days

of

crushing labor and a neighbor’s

barking dog and a hard on with

nowhere special to go it’s all I

can do to write like this:

a desperate poem

from a desperate man

to other desperate souls:

when the brain bleeds

the pen screeds.