I sent Bukowski some poems, one of which was “Twisted Living” (a 3-pager that later appeared in Hung). He re-wrote “Twisted Living” and titled it “I Know What Love Is” and sent it back to me. He didn’t add anything; he just subtracted.

—Douglas Goodwin

I worried about the woman who lived there
who lived with me and took up part of the bed
and used the telephone and the bathroom
and went out to do certain things at certain times
and then came back again.
She created blips of turbulence
in my vast blank mural
but she aroused love in me too
and the love part gave the blankness
a certain hugeness and roundness.

Now she puts her breathing head next to mine
and I want to reach down and caress her feet
and lick them.
And when she’s asleep in the late morning
I like to wake her up to see if she remembers
who I am
she tells me to
shut up and go back to sleep
she rolls away
all sleepy and sexy and cute and vulnerable
leaving me with a hard-on sometimes
or just the vague unformed desire
in my balls.
I touch her sleeping skin
and watch
as she coils her innocent limbs


Image credit:DAVIDCOHEN

Douglas Goodwin's books include Hung Like a Hebrew National, Half Memory of a Distant Life, and Slamming it Down. The latter two include a foreword by Charles Bukowski, who championed Goodwin's verse and corresponded with Goodwin over several years. Much of the Goodwin-Bukowski correspondence appears in the feature "Letters to Douglas Goodwin" in the 2015/16 edition of the Charles Bukowski Society Jahrbuch 2015/16, edited by Roni and Sönke Mann, out of Bamberg, Germany. Goodwin also collaborated with poet Steve Richmond on the literary magazine stance in the 1980s.