If I Taught Creative Writing
By Charles Bukowski
now, if you were teaching creative
writing, he asked, what would you
I’d tell them to have an unhappy love
affair, hemorrhoids, bad teeth
and to drink cheap wine,
to keep switching the head of their
bed from wall to wall
and then I’d tell them to have
another unhappy love affair
and never to use a silk typewriter
avoid family picnics
or being photographed in a rose
read Hemingway only once,
stare at photos of Gertrude Stein
and read Sherwood Anderson in bed
while eating Ritz crackers,
realize that people who keep
talking about sexual liberation
are more frightened than you are.
listen to E. Power Biggs work the
organ on your radio while you’re
rolling Bull Durham in the dark
in a strange town
with one day left on the rent
after having given up
friends, relatives and jobs.
never consider yourself superior and /
and never try to be.
have another unhappy love affair.
watch a fly on a summer curtain.
never try to succeed.
don’t shoot pool.
be righteously angry when you
find your car has a flat tire.
take vitamins but don’t lift weights or jog.
then after all this
reverse the procedure.
have a good love affair.
and the thing
you might learn
is that nobody knows anything–
not the State, nor the mice
the garden hose or the North Star.
and if you ever catch me
teaching a creative writing class
and you read this back to me
I’ll give you a straight A
right up the pickle