“Law” by Charles Bukowski

[One of my favorite Bukowski poems.]

“Look,” he told me,
“all those little children dying in the trees.”
And I said, “What?”
He said, “look.”
And I went to the window and sure enough, there they were hanging in the trees,
dead and dying.
And I said, “What does it mean?”
He said, “I don’t know it’s authorized.”

The next day I got up and they had dogs in the trees,
hanging, dead, and dying.
I turned to my friend and I said, “What does it mean?”
And he said,
“Don’t worry about it, it’s the way of things. They took a vote. It was decided.”

The next day it was cats.
I don’t see how they caught all those cats so fast and hung them in the trees, but they did.
The next day it was horses,
and that wasn’t so good because many bad branches broke.

And after bacon and eggs the next day,
my friend pulled his pistol on me across the coffee
and said,
“Let’s go,”
and we went outside.
And here were all these men and women in the trees,
most of them dead or dying.
And he got the rope ready and I said,
“What does it mean?”
And he said, “It’s authorized, constitutional, it passed the majority,”
And he tied my hands behind my back then opened the noose.
“I don’t know who’s going to hang me,” he said,
“When I get done with you.
I suppose when it finally works down
there will be just one left and he’ll have to hang himself.”
“Suppose he doesn’t,” I ask.
“He has to,” he said,
“It’s authorized.”
“Oh,” I said, “Well,
let’s get on with it.”