Aug. 8, 2001

the finger

by Charles Bukowski

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Poem: "the finger," by Charles Bukowski from Bone Palace Ballet (Black Sparrow Press).

the finger

the drivers of automobiles
have very little recourse or
when upset with
they often give him the

I have seen two adult
florid of face
driving along
giving each other the

well, we all know what
this means, it's no

still, this gesture is
so overused it has
lost most of its

some of the men who give
the FINGER are captains of
industry, city councilmen,
insurance adjusters,
accountants and/or the just plain
no matter.
it is their favorite

people will never admit
that they drive

the FINGER is their

I see grown men
FINGERING each other
throughout the day.

it gives me pause.
when I consider
the state of our cities,
the state of our states,
the state of our country,
I begin to

the FINGER is a mind-
we are the FINGERERS.
we give it
to each other.
we give it coming and
we don't know how
else to respond.

what a hell of a way
to not

It's the birthday of essayist, short story writer, and novelist Elizabeth Tallent, born in Washington, D.C. (1954), who studied anthropology at Illinois State University and had no intention of becoming a writer. She was, in fact, on her way to graduate school in New Mexico when she and her husband came upon a fork in the road between Taos and Santa Fe. The couple decided to toss a coin to decide which way they would go. The coin said Santa Fe, and graduate school was off. Tallent began writing short stories, and sold her first one, Ice (1980), to the New Yorker. Two years later she published her first work of nonfiction, Married Men and Magic Tricks: John Updike's Erotic Heroes (1982). Her first novel, Museum Pieces (1985), takes place largely in the basement of an archeologist's New Mexico museum. Her short-story collection, Honey: Stories (1993), is a collection of nine short pieces about nine men and women struggling to cope with failing marriages, stepchildren, and newborn babies.

It's the birthday of novelist and journalist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, born in Washington, D.C. (1896). In 1926, when she was 30 years old, she and her husband went to visit relatives in the relatively undeveloped region of north-central Florida. Two years later, they bought a farm with an orange grove in Cross Creek, near Gainesville, Florida, and she began writing stories about the poor whites in the area. The stories caught the attention of Scribners editor Maxwell Perkins, who urged her to write more about the region. After several books and short stories, Rawlings wrote her most notable work, The Yearling (1938), the story of a young boy named Jody Baxter and his initiation into manhood when he has to kill his pet deer, because it is destroying his family's meager crops. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, and was made into a movie in 1946. Rawlings' second most popular work is Cross Creek (1942), a nonfiction account of how she adapted to the heat, frosts, mosquitoes, and people of rural Florida.

It's the birthday of poet Sara Teasdale, born in St. Louis, Missouri (1884), a shy and fragile girl who grew up to be a nervous, fragile woman. In 1918, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection called Love Songs.

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