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To You,

...and bukowski.

By Kathleen HairPublished 3 years ago 14 min read
Dear Bougainvillea's, I tried to do you justice.

To you,

… and Bukowski,

Recently a book was handed to me, ‘Notes of a Dirty Old Man,’ and though Charles Bukowski and I likely wouldn’t have ‘gotten on;’ or however the Brits say it, I am sure that he would appreciate the tone and style in which I write.

Besides that, there is a sentence in this book where he says, “…and, so now, my friend in the army fatigues, you write yours…”

And though I don't don the uniform anymore Bukowski, something about the things you said in that excerpt about JFK’s assassination really got me thinking.

"... a thing like that assassination is that we not only lose a man of some worth but we also lose political, spiritual and social gains, and there are such thing, even if they do seem high-sounding."

Not only this portion but many of your thoughts were like the net of a fishing boat, just swooped me up out of the sea, giving me permission or forcing me to be seen; doesn't matter which I thank you.

For anyone who hasn’t read him, the man is quite hilarious… it wouldn’t be a waste of time to give him a whirl. I laughed out loud many times…

Then again, it has been said to me that my sense of humor is dry, very dry. As a matter of fact, like an extra dry martini. Bukowski might get the reference seeing as I don’t, even after trying the drink. Other people seem to get it though, which is why i use it as an example, for me though I see it as just one of those things that I won’t get, for no other reason than my mind doesn’t roll that way. Like murderers, or hardcore criminals for example, I'll never understand or be able to relate to their actions or motivations and I paint myself fortunate for such blessings.

When people question their choices though, I few things cross my mind. The most obvious why ask why?

People are people and we make mistakes, we are the only creature capable of murder, and some people have been exposed to some serious abuse. I’m just saying, how could such things not torment and dement the mind to such an extent that the body eventually takes action? - Consider that largely as a nation it's almost encouraged to drink, eat or smoke ourselves to death. We are no doubt seeking some kind of solace at the bottom of some kind of container due to the state of affairs generally speaking for the last one-hundred years or so.

I always used to tell my family that I was glad that they could not understand the experiences I had in the Military, for had they the understanding, they too would have had the experience. I believe that the Military isn’t for everyone, it likely wasn’t even for me but I couldn’t live without trying for a better life. Who wants to just stand still in quicksand anyway?

Heck, I feel as if you do not and cannot think the way those who can and do justify their inhumane behavior... Well, to me it says something about your soul not being so full of holes that the lights nearly snuffed out. Saying this, it cannot go without mentioning that I believe, know rather that those holes in our soul are created by our decisions; how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. When we, IF we choose to turn away from darkness and walk into the light long enough, we're capable of eventually shaking all those shadows out of our lives, and sometimes those shadows are family, or our reflections.

Believe what you will, I don’t judge. And it is ok with me if you do. Matter of fact my enlistment is evidence enough that I fought for your right to judge me and whomever, however you please. Have an opinion. But pleasse, just… make it your own.

About belief? I choose to believe the hearts energy is strongest for the same reason that I understand all emotions, therefore feelings, derive from love. Besides, fighting fire with fire only gets you so far, and that distance is somewhere between naivety and wisdom. Happy trails!

Talking of souls makes some people uncomfortable or agitated, while others want to contest their existence. I will say this and let you ponder for as long as you like. My atheist friend even agreed that the 21 grams theory means they haven’t scientifically proven, or disproven the existence of a soul...

Soo? Personally, I feel that if we disagree about the existence of souls or anything else, this would make for interesting conversation. You do not have to share my opinion or even ‘like’ me, for me to ‘like,’ respect or appreciate your opinion. So… come one, come all if you’ve any knowledge that may turn my thinkin’, just mind your manners and your cool. Debate should be fun.


Because I always have you in the back of my mind, I must address this to you because it is easier for me to express myself this way. It bothers me because I can tell that you have, or perhaps are thinking that I ‘play it small’. It has been said of me that I am not ‘hungry’, as it were, for opportunity I suppose.

The truth is I have seen from a distance what it takes for people who want to make it big, those who want or need to 'fit in'. There are sacrifices - I think, that more people should struggle with. For example I cannot watch people fall, or condone setting them up for failure even if it were to my benefit.

Getting up there - in my mind. Involves helping each other up, reaching back, or below you in order to propel the next person further ahead, or up. You see it right? They could do the same for you. Screw baby steps, let’s take leaps and bounds.

In the Army one of the first obstacle courses involves this very tall wall that the entire platoon must climb over to begin the course. If I remember right, the wall was something like fifteen feet. I remember being the third person; standing atop the shoulders of a man, who was standing atop the shoulders of another man, and I was barley touching the ledge with the tips of my fingers. I had been the base at the top for everyone because I was the smallest person who could - and did very quickly, scramble up the backs of the two other men to hold top of the pyramid. The last most agile dude helped the last of us to the top - I forget his name but remember his face, he scaled our backs and snatched my arm while pulling me to stand atop the wall, he patted me on the back and smiled before he leapt down. I figured it was to show me it could be done. I followed him, would 'a followed him anywhere. I heard he passed in Afgan a few years later, dude was one of the best men I hardly knew. A strong heart energy, I can still feel it.


A man at a local pot shop I frequent, who could very well be straight out of a Dracula movie, mainly because his eyes flash in the way they make the vampires eyes flash on the big screen just before they strike. Too many times he has made it evident he does not appreciate my business. On one such occasion after helping an older woman he scuffed almost appreciatively as he shouted into my face at his friend behind me,

"Can you believe that? A hustler, tryin’ to hustle a hustler.”

It got me to thinking about the hustle and wondering how he and others, myself included, have fallen slave to ‘the hustle’. Think on it, how many things we pay for monthly now and how quickly the minimum wage paychecks fly, regardless of where you live. I know the lot of y’all are where I’ve been many times throughout my life. Paycheck to paycheck praying for a lifeline, or one of those cool telephone calls that might help you win five million on a game show.

What I am driving at in a round about way is, to get on top, to be one of the ‘haves’… to really have in a world where competition reigns supreme. To really, really have.

It seems like you got to sacrifice pieces of your soul.

…And Tupac’s Angels sing,

“To live and die in LA, it’s the place to be. You’ve got to be here to know it, when everybody wanna see...”

Rip Sir, unless the rumors were true… OH! or if that spirit world I am reading about is where you at, I hope to meet you. You too Bukowski.

The West Coast, specifically southern California, calls many people and the rumors about LA are true. It’s glam, and grit, tussling with a cut-throat alley cat in an atmosphere saturated with the stench of urine and trash during downtown, mid-summer.

This pandemic changed the stakes, customer service looks more like an inquisition and somehow the game’s shifted. Except for the richest. I am referring to those with riches who are so high above the public eye, the term invisible doesn’t even do their magic trick justice.

To quote Bukowski, " those who got wanta keep and they are going to tell you how wrong everything is that might strip them of their golden drawers."

It’s this thing about the media that kills me. With the numerous amounts of studies done on mob mentality, crowd reaction, the anomaly of a community’s response to a natural disaster. For the media to constantly pump people for an emotional reaction the way they do… it’s shameful, truly. I know I am not the only one that feels it, the implied perpetual state of fear that began sometime around, if not before 9/11.

I don’t even watch the news, and yet I find that I don’t have to. All I must do is wait to hear what jargon people are spouting universally in my community, country, world. When the narrative is controlled by something other than the people… when the narrative is basically a monopoly… and people in your community attempt to judge you based on the media outlet you watch. Mmm, I begin to ask myself, what are we debating really?


If so, I got to go.

Anyway, I bring all of this up because I know that my views and opinions are not popular so they will not be accepted. My family, the Military and largely most people I meet do not accept my views. I have a few good friends, and that’s all I need... Perhaps I am a minimalist.

To tell you the truth though, I am realizing more and more that there is true value in standing alone. Sure-sure, strength in numbers blah-blah. But really. Stand alone for an extended period of time, be singled out for some reason or another, and then tell me there isn’t potential for character building in the (potential - because perspective is key y'all.) lessons learned.

I get it, and I keep to myself largely because I understand that this is the norm. I do not strive to be accepted anymore. I strive to appreciate and honor myself and my soul. I figure that eventually I will find my tribe, or more like-minded people who are supportive and understanding.

To the point, I do not want to hurt anyone though, and not only because it’s wrong, but simply because I feel that the way to a better society is through forgiveness, understanding and compassion. Whatever be the cause, concern, discrepancy. We all stumble, we all have been cruel, impatient, aggravated, angry, rude, over-the-top. I mean… at least once, right?

I hear a lot of talk everywhere I go, and what infuriates me the most is when I hear people speak as if there is no hope for… anyone, any-one person; whether they be homeless - or what have you - by choice, force or circumstance. I hear people say that children of lower income families cannot achieve higher intellectual status because they simply do not have the right genes. I balked at this. It simply cannot be true; I don’t gamble, but the odds of his statement being factual… crap-o-la. Bukowski? What would really bad odds look like in a bet? Was that the meaning of 25 to1?

There is talk about this regarding race too, which has me wondering when did all these sub ‘races’ pop up really? As if Asian, African, Western and Middle-Eastern cultures; somehow are of different races. Wouldn’t it, or shouldn’t, wait… or don’t we refer to these as ‘cultures’?

Another thing that stumps me is when in Art school we learned about colors and I was reminded that white is the accumulation of all colors, where black is the absence of all color. Which got me to thinking about whatever intellectual jerk sometime before the Renaissance Era thought it be wise to refer to a person of color as a ‘Negro’? If I’m correct, the term in Spanish defines the color Black. I mention this because these intellectual jerks back in the day were not dumb, and I do not believe it an accident they used this term that means the absence of color.

And what bothers me about it the most, is that its untrue. People of any color cannot be Black.

When I was in the Army the soldiers who stood next to me, their skin tanned and darkened beneath the Iraqi sun the same as mine did. – I was even once confused for a Spaniard one night on Bourbon Street sauntering along the cobblestone pathway drunk. I was speaking Spanish to whomever walked by as myself, and a few other soldiers sort of half carried, half dragged each other to the vehicle. I nearly fell into the river laughing when I was told ‘go back where I came from,’ by some tourist. I imagine someone fell in before, which is why they had that railing there; I silently thanked them for their sacrifice.

My point here is, my homegirls hands - because that was nearly the only part of our body that was not ever covered by sleeves - her hands turned dark, dark, and she was a light skinned female. People confused me little ole’ pasty white me when not in the sun, for a bona fide Spaniard on account of the even brown glow upon my face when we returned stateside. Oh, which brings me to a thought, Spaniards were referred to as ‘white men’ during the days of Columbus, were they not? Funny how definitions and perceptions change over time. Apparently Irish people had the same skulls as 'Negros' in the early 1800’s. Which made them both apparently closer to Neanderthals than any other ‘race’.

If you cannot see the picture I am painting.

As Bukowski so eloquently stated,

“the SOUL has NO SKIN.”

If that doesn’t hit the marker for you, try this. Because I have seen how everyone reacts when they meet someone who was born with serious defects, I also saw how he grew up; bitter, confused, scared, quiet.

CRUELTY has no eyes to see with.

CRUELTY has no ears to hear with.

CRUELTY knows no color, no bounds; it is not racist and it does not discriminate.

It is stupid.

Within us this response or reaction is manifest, and it is within each of us it must be snuffed out until there is nothing left, not even a single ember.

My being “color-blind” as they say, is not because of any ‘privilege’ either. Simply put, I gauge your character on how you treat plants, animals, and people.

Mostly in that order.

That’s it.

All that has any real merit in my mind.


About the Creator

Kathleen Hair


Learning to live.

And living to learn.

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