The Landlord At The Door



The Landlord At The Door

It’s not because of charcoal scarred into
the carpet, after hurling a hookah, sparks and all,
down a flight of stairs. It’s not because
local drunks know the two-car garage doubles
as an open bar. No noteworthy crime was ever
reflected in that bathroom mirror. Not one
vagabond has danced these floors with
the filth of brothels on her boots. There are no
squatter’s here; everyone’s accounted for.
It’s not that anything is wrong with any of the
appliances: The dishwasher isn’t kicked in;
the microwave isn’t caked with blood;
the sinks are not clogged with hair, condoms
and cigarette butts. It’s got nothing to do with
garbage bags full of body parts. Nothing

ever goes wrong. Yes, of course, we’d
love to have you in—It’s just these cockroaches,
see? And the exterminators are here
to take care of it. We’re making sure
the whole place gets wiped out.

by Ryan Dowling

Bukowski Had A Heart?



there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my booksales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

by Charles Bukwoski (1920-1994)

Check out this excellent recitation by actor Harry Dean Stanton Here.


Paralipsis is a rhetorical device by which a writer emphasizes or draws attention to something by either denying it or refusing to talk about it.

Throughout this poem, the speaker suggests that he’s a tough guy: he drinks and smokes, he doesn’t weep and he doesn’t like the idea that this bluebird could “mess me up.” The bluebird, then, becomes a symbol for the speaker’s inner sensitivity, which he conceals with a tough exterior. The speaker insists he’s “too tough” to expose the bluebird in his heart and is very careful about not letting people see it. However, the more the speaker denies and conceals the bluebird, the more he ultimately talks about it and reveals it to the reader. Also, notice how toward the end of the poem the speaker seems on the brink of telling us his secret: “and it’s nice enough to make a man weep.” Only, he backs out of the confession at the last second: “but I don’t weep.” This adds a final punch to the paralipsis element of the poem since it continues to play with revelation and concealment.