Charles Bukowski

(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain


call it the greenhouse effect or whatever

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Mark Leash (11/19/2013 1:52:00 PM)

    call it the greenhouse effect or whatever
    but it just doesn't rain like it
    used to.

    I particularly remember the rains of the
    depression era.
    there wasn't any money but there was
    plenty of rain.

    it wouldn't rain for just a night or
    a day,
    it would RAIN for 7 days and 7
    nights
    and in Los Angeles the storm drains
    weren't built to carry off taht much
    water
    and the rain came down THICK and
    MEAN and
    STEADY
    and you HEARD it banging against
    the roofs and into the ground
    waterfalls of it came down
    from roofs
    and there was HAIL
    big ROCKS OF ICE
    bombing
    exploding smashing into things
    and the rain
    just wouldn't
    STOP
    and all the roofs leaked-
    dishpans,
    cooking pots
    were placed all about;
    they dripped loudly
    and had to be emptied
    again and
    again.

    the rain came up over the street curbings,
    across the lawns, climbed up the steps and
    entered the houses.
    there were mops and bathroom towels,
    and the rain often came up through the
    toilets: bubbling, brown, crazy, whirling,
    and all the old cars stood in the streets,
    cars that had problems starting on a
    sunny day,
    and the jobless men stood
    looking out the windows
    at the old machines dying
    like living things
    out there.

    the jobless men,
    failures in a failing time
    were imprisoned in their houses with their
    wives and children
    and their
    pets.
    the pets refused to go out
    and left their waste in
    strange places.
    the jobless men went mad
    confined with
    their once beautiful wives.
    there were terrible arguments
    as notices of foreclosure
    fell into the mailbox.
    rain and hail, cans of beans,
    bread without butter; fried
    eggs, boiled eggs, poached
    eggs; peanut butter
    sandwiches, and an invisible
    chicken
    in every pot.

    my father, never a good man
    at best, beat my mother
    when it rained
    as I threw myself
    between them,
    the legs, the knees, the
    screams
    until they
    separated.

    I'll kill you, I screamed
    at him. You hit her again
    and I'll kill you!

    Get that son-of-a-bitching
    kid out of here!

    no, Henry, you stay with
    your mother!

    all the households were under
    siege but I believe that ours
    held more terror than the
    average.

    and at night
    as we attempted to sleep
    the rains still came down
    and it was in bed
    in the dark
    watching the moon against
    the scarred window
    so bravely
    holding out
    most of the rain,
    I thought of Noah and the
    Ark
    and I thought, it has come
    again.
    we all thought
    that.

    and then, at once, it would
    stop.
    and it always seemed to
    stop
    around 5 or 6 a.m.,
    peaceful then,
    but not an exact silence
    because things continued to
    drip
    drip
    drip

    and there was no smog then
    and by 8 a.m.
    there was a
    blazing yellow sunlight,
    Van Gogh yellow-
    crazy, blinding!
    and then
    the roof drains
    relieved of the rush of
    water
    began to expand in the warmth:
    PANG! PANG! PANG!

    and everybody got up and looked outside
    and there were all the lawns
    still soaked
    greener than green will ever
    be
    and there were birds
    on the lawn
    CHIRPING like mad,
    they hadn't eaten decently
    for 7 days and 7 nights
    and they were weary of
    berries
    and
    they waited as the worms
    rose to the top,
    half drowned worms.
    the birds plucked them
    up
    and gobbled them
    down; there were
    blackbirds and sparrows.
    the blackbirds tried to
    drive the sparrows off
    but the sparrows,
    maddened with hunger,
    smaller and quicker,
    got their
    due.

    the men stood on their porches
    smoking cigarettes,
    now knowing
    they'd have to go out
    there
    to look for that job
    that probably wasn't
    there, to start that car
    that probably wouldn't
    start.

    and the once beautiful
    wives
    stood in their bathrooms
    combing their hair,
    applying makeup,
    trying to put their world back
    together again,
    trying to forget that
    awful sadness that
    gripped them,
    wondering what they could
    fix for
    breakfast.

    and on the radio
    we were told that
    school was now
    open.
    and
    soon
    there I was
    on the way to school,
    massive puddles in the
    street,
    the sun like a new
    world,
    my parents back in that
    house,
    I arrived at my classroom
    on time.

    Mrs. Sorenson greeted us
    with, we won't have our
    usual recess, the grounds
    are too wet.
    AW! most of the boys
    went.

    but we are going to do
    something special at
    recess, she went on,
    and it will be
    fun!

    well, we all wondered
    what that would
    be
    and the two hour wait
    seemed a long time
    as Mrs. Sorenson
    went about
    teaching her
    lessons.

    I looked at the little
    girls, they looked so
    pretty and clean and
    alert,
    they sat still and
    straight
    and their hair was
    beautiful
    in the California
    sunshine.

    then the recess bells rang
    and we all waited for the
    fun.

    then Mrs. Sorenson told
    us:
    now, what we are going to
    do is we are going to tell
    each other what we did
    during the rainstorm!
    we'll begin in the front row
    and go right around!
    now, Michael, you're
    first! ...

    well, we all began to tell
    our stories, Michael began
    and it went on and on,
    and soon we realized that
    we were all lying, not
    exactly lying but mostly
    lying and some of the boys
    began to snicker and some
    of the girls began to give
    them dirty looks and
    Mrs. Sorenson said,
    all right! I demand a
    modicum of silence
    here!
    I am interested in what
    you did
    during the rainstorm
    even if you
    aren't!

    so we had to tell our
    stories and they were
    stories.

    one girl said that
    when the rainbow first
    came
    she saw God's face
    at the end of it.
    only she didn't say
    which end.

    one boy said he stuck
    his fishing pole
    out the window
    and caught a little
    fish
    and fed it to his
    cat.

    almost everybody told
    a lie.
    the truth was just
    too awful and
    embarrassing to
    tell.

    then the bell rang
    and recess was
    over.
    thank you, said Mrs.
    Sorenson, that was very
    nice.
    and tomorrow the grounds
    will be dry
    and we will put them
    to use
    again.

    most of the boys
    cheered
    and the little girls
    sat very straight and
    still,
    looking so pretty and
    clean and
    alert,
    their hair beautiful in a sunshine that
    the world might never see
    again. (Report) Reply

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