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Change of Habit PDF Print E-mail
Shirley came to town with a broken leg
and met the Chicano who smoked
long slim cigars
and they got a place together
on Beacon street
5th floor;
the leg didn't get in the way
too much and
they watched television together
and Shirley cooked, on her
crutches and all;
there was a cat, Bogey,
and they had some friends
and talked about sports and Richard Nixon
and how the hell to
make it.
it worked for some months,
Shirley even got the cast off,
and the Chicano, Manuel,
got a job at the Biltmore,
Shirley sewed all the buttons back on
Manuel's shirts, mended and matched his
socks, then
one day Manuel returned to the place, and
she was gone-
no argument, no note, just
gone, all her clothes
all her stuff, and
Manuel sat by the window and looked out
and didn't make his job
the next day or the
next day or
the day after, he
didn't phone in, he
lost his job, got a
ticket for parking, smoked
four hundred and sixty cigarettes, got
picked up for common drunk, bailed
out, went
to court and pleaded
guilty.

when the rent was up he
moved from Beacon street, he
left the cat and went to live with
his brother and
they'd get drunk
every night
and talk about how
           terrible
life was.

Manuel never again smoked
long slim cigars
because Shirley always said
how
handsome he looked
when he did.

Charles Bukowski
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