The Shoelace


The Shoelace


by Charles Bukowski

a woman, a tire that’s flat, a disease, a desire: fears in front of you, fears that hold so still you can study them like pieces on a chessboard… it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse. death he’s ready for, or murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood… no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse… not the death of his love but a shoelace that snaps with no time left … The dread of life is that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and which are always there – license plates or taxes or expired driver’s license, or hiring or firing, doing it or having it done to you, or roaches or flies or a broken hook on a screen, or out of gas or too much gas, the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk, the president doesn’t care and the governor’s crazy. 


light switch broken, mattress like a porcupine; $105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at sears roebuck; and the phone bill’s up and the market’s down and the toilet chain is broken, and the light has burned out – the hall light, the front light, the back light, the inner light; it’s darker than hell and twice as expensive. then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails and people who insist they’re your friends; there’s always that and worse; leaky faucet, christ and christmas; blue salami, 9 day rains, 50 cent avocados and purple liverwurst. or making it as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift, or as an emptier of bedpans, or as a carwash or a busboy or a stealer of old lady’s purses 
leaving them screaming on the sidewalks with broken arms at the age of 80. 

suddenly 2 red lights in your rear view mirror and blood in your underwear; toothache, and $979 for a bridge, $300 for a gold tooth, and china and russia and america, and long hair and short hair and no hair, and beards and no faces, and plenty of zigzag but no pot, except maybe one to piss in and the other one around your 

with each broken shoelace out of one hundred broken shoelaces, one man, one woman, one 
thing enters a madhouse. 

so be careful when you bend over.