'THE SOLDIER, HIS WIFE AND THE BUM'
I was a bum in San Francisco that once managed to go to a symphony concert along with the well dressed people. And the music was good but something about the audience was not. And something about the orchestra and the conductor was not. Although the building was fine and the acoustics perfect I preferred to listen to the music alone on my radio.
And afterwards I did go back to my room and I turned on the radio. But there was a pounding on the wall. 'Shut that god damn thing off!' There was a soldier in the next room bubbling with his wife and soon he would be going over there to protect me from Hitler. So I snapped the radio off and then I heard his wife say 'You shouldn't have done that'. And the soldier said 'Fuck that guy' which I thought was a very nice thing for him to tell his wife to do. Of course she never did.
Anyhow I never went to another live concert. And that night I listened to the radio very quietly, my ear pressed to the speaker.
War has it's price and peace never lasts. And millions of young men everywhere will die. As I listened to the classical music I heard them making love. Desperately and mournfully, through Shostakovich, Brahms, Mozart, through crescendo and climax and through the shared walls of our darkness.
BY CHARLES BUKOWSKI
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