The man with the beautiful eyes

A poem by Charles Bukowski, from his collection The Last Night of the Earth poems. when we were kids there was a strange house all the shades were always drawn and we never heard voices in there and the yard was full of bamboo and we liked to play in the bamboo pretend we were Tarzan (although there was no Jane). and there was a fish pond a large one full of the fattest goldfish you ever saw and they were tame. they came to the surface of the water and took pieces of bread from our hands. our parents had told us: “never go near that house.” so, of course, we went. we wondered if anybody lived there. weeks went by and we never saw anybody. then one day we heard a voice from the house “YOU GOD DAMNED WHORE!” it was a man’s voice. then the screen door of the house was flung open and the man walked out. he was holding a fifth of whiskey in his right hand. he was about 30. he had a cigar in his mouth, needed a shave. his hair was wild and and uncombed and he was barefoot in undershirt and pants. but his eyes were bright. they blazed with brightness and he said, “hey, little gentlemen, having a good time, I hope?” then he gave a little laugh and walked back into the house. we left, went back to my parents’ yard and thought about it. our parents, we decided, had wanted us to stay away from there because they never wanted us to see a man like that, a strong natural man with beautiful eyes. our parents were ashamed that they were not like that man, that’s why they wanted us to stay away. but we went back to that house and the bamboo and the tame goldfish. we went back many times for many weeks but we never saw or heard the man again. the shades were down as always and it was quiet. then one day as we came back from school we saw the house. it had burned down, there was nothing left, just a smoldering twisted black foundation and we went to the fish pond and there was no water in it and the fat orange goldfish were dead there, drying out. we went back to my parents’ yard and talked about it and decided that our parents had burned their house down, had killed them had killed the goldfish because it was all too beautiful, even the bamboo forest had burned. they had been afraid of the man with the beautiful eyes. and we were afraid then that all throughout our lives things like that would happen, that nobody wanted anybody to be strong and beautiful like that, that others would never allow it, and that many people would have to die.