Employment history (1 Viewer)

During episode 52 (the final episode) of 'The Bukowski Tapes', Buk talks about working briefly at a meat packing plant. The way he recalled it, it appeared to have taken place in the years immediately after WWII, but does anybody know when this brief employment occurred and where?

Also, did he ever write about this experience in a short story or in a poem? I vaguely remember him writing about working in a meat packing plant somewhere, but don't recall where?
 

mjp

Founding member
"Briefly" indeed. If the story can be believed, he didn't make it past lunch the first day.

He writes about it in confessions of a man insane enough to live with beasts, which was a 1965 chapbook (later collected in South of No North). The same story was re-titled, "Kid Stardust on the Porterhouse" in Erections/The Most Beautiful Woman in Town.

Somewhere else in South of No North he also talks about getting side-eye on the bus on his way home from work at a slaughterhouse because he smelled so bad, but it's just a line or two, there aren't any further details.

That lack of details anywhere outside of the description of the first day (or half day) make me doubt that he was ever employed at a slaughterhouse for any length of time. If he was, the odds are he would have written about it more than once.
 
If I recall, he was supposed to grab the carcasses and hang them and he described the hook as being as dull as a man's thumb, or something to that effect. It's been quite a while since I read that story.
 

mjp

Founding member
I had it. Its dead bones against my living bones, its dead flesh against my living flesh, and the bone and the weight cut in, I thought of a sexy cunt sitting across from me on a couch with her legs crossed high and me with a drink in my hand, slowly and surely talking my way toward and into the blank mind of her body, and Hank hollered, “HANG HER IN THE TRUCK!”

I ran toward the truck. The shame of defeat taught me in American schoolyards as a boy told me that I must not drop the steer to the ground because this would prove that I was a coward and not a man and that I didn’t therefore deserve much, just sneers and laughs, you had to be a winner in America, there wasn’t any way out, you had to learn to fight for nothing, don’t question, and besides if I dropped the steer I might have to pick it up, and I knew I could never pick it up. Besides it would get dirty. I didn’t want it to get dirty, or rather—they didn’t want it to get dirty.

I ran it into the truck.

“HANG IT!”

The hook which hung from the roof was dull as a man’s thumb without a fingernail. You let the bottom of the steer slide back and went for the top, you poked the top part against the hook again and again but the hook would not go through. Mother ass!! It was all gristle and fat, tough, tough.

“COME ON! COME ON!”

I gave it my last reserve and the hook came through, it was a beautiful sight, a miracle, that hook coming through, that steer hanging there by itself completely off my shoulder, hanging for the housecoats and butchershop gossip.

“MOVE ON!”

A 285 pound Negro, insolent, sharp, cool, murderous, walked in, hung his meat with a snap, looked down at me.

“We stays in line here!”

“O.k., ace.”

I walked out in front of him. Another steer was waiting for me. Each time I loaded one I was sure that was the last one I could handle but I kept saying

one more
just one more
then I
quit.
Fuck
it.
 
He also writes about the slaughterhouse in the story beginning on p. 51 in The Bell Tolls for No One. Here he says he only worked one night there.

BellTolls.jpg
 
Don't forget his great poem Something for the Touts:

...
in the slaughterhouse it comes running along
the ceiling on a hook, and you swing it -
one
two
three
and then you've got it, $200 worth of dead
meat, its bones against your bones

...

He must have written that around the same time as confessions of a man insane enough to live with beasts.
 
The final episode on the Buk Tapes would have to be one of my favourites and it brings out the very best of Hank's exceptional storytelling abilities. When he tells a story, he sometimes has this way of making something so intriguing that it makes me want to go back and try to find out something more. I just wish I could post that particular episode on here to illustrate what I mean.

So thanks guys, these are all informative responses. I knew there was a reason why I registered on this site. :DD
 

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