I often watched Factotum and smoked and drank alone. Matt Dillon is an excellent Bukowski. Not that I even enjoy Bukowski, mind you. His novels are awful. Women throw themselves at him and it’s hard to believe a word of it. But in Factotum he drinks and smokes and writes and the writing made it feel okay to drink and smoke and watch it. The dingy, dark neon interiors of the bars soft and safe and welcoming. Welcome. Give me a dive bar in a squat brick building in a rust belt city. Give me a seat where no one knows my name. Give me two dollar you-call its and smoke that hangs like the lace over my mother’s cast iron half tester bed. In the movie Bukowski drinks and writes and at the end he publishes something. It doesn’t matter then, the drinking. Publishing something makes it okay to die. When England banned coal burning stoves the suicide rate dropped and never recovered. Because suicide is so often an impulsive thing. Thought out, the would-be suicide thinks again. The unexamined suicide is not worth doing. A pint and some beers, a few one shooters and if I finished the movie before passing out I’d scroll through my poems on my phone, my fingers gently gliding across the glass like tracing the neck of a lover who carried my unborn daughter in her belly, waiting to someday remember me as a complicated father, attentive when he was there, a ghost when he was drunk, someone she’s still trying to learn to forgive so many years later.
Craig Finlay is a poet and librarian currently living in rural Oklahoma. His poems have appeared or will be appearing in numerous publications, most recently, The Ilanot Review, Little Patuxent Review, Levee Magazine and After Happy Hour Review. His first collection, The Very Small Mammoths of Wrangel Island, is being published this year by Urban Farmhouse Press.