There’s A Bluebird In My Heart

Joyce Peseroff

Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.

Charles Bukowski

Bluebird

by Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)

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
you.
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
he’s
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
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
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
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

 


Bluebird

By Joyce Peseroff

My mother’s voice is at my throat
—”Try a scarf in the neckline”—
and on my lips: “Just a little
lipstick.” Today I’m wearing both.
 
My “mother’s voice,” pitched high, carries
reprimand and care:
“No boom on the table!” My daughter
swats me as I carry her
 
away from the dearest
activity on earth—sticks, stones, struck
as if the coffee table were a flint.
 
“Barbarian,” I croon
in heels. “What’s that?” she asks and rips
a nylon with a fingernail.
 
She cries at the turtleneck
pulled over her head. “I’ll give you something
to cry about!” I hush, succeeding for another
 
day, or an hour—another minute
late for work. Tonight I’ll choose
a lullaby: “Bluebird
at my window,” Mother sang to me,
a voice that could broom sorrow
 
through the door . . . A decal
staggered on the painted bureau,
blue wing seeking, finding no way out.