I cannot stand tears (1 Viewer)

This is especially interesting, as it was changed during Hank's lifetime. And even though the changes are only 2 words, they give a whole different meaning and feeling to the poem.

Here's what 'THE ROOMINGHOUSE MADRIGALS' (1988, p.69) say:

I Cannot Stand Tears

there were several hundred fools
around the goose who broke her leg
trying to decide
what to do
when the guard walked up
and pulled out his cannon
and the issue was finished
except for a woman
who ran out of a hut
claiming he'd killed her pet
but the guard rubbed his straps
and told her
kiss my ass,
take it to the president;
the woman was crying
and I cannot stand tears.

I folded my canvas
and went further down the road:
the bastards had ruined
my landscape.

... and here's the version from 'SAN FRANCISCO REVIEW' #1 (1958, p. 66):


I didn't have a look (yet) at the other sources, where this poem appeared. Might be interesting.
On the King Mob CD 'At Terror Street and Agony Way' (recorded in 1969) the version Bukowski reads (as you no doubt expect) the same as the SF Review text.
Amazing. It really does change the entire meaning. The poem never totally made sense to me before. Now it does.
I don't know about changing his to her, but I have to admit that I can see the logic in changing the line about the bird crying, since the guard killed the bird. Unless dead birds can cry, I dunno.
...unless the guard was telling the woman that he killed the bird because it was crying and that he cannot stand tears. Yes, these small changes sure do change the poem meaning.
In the 1971 Druid Books (2nd printing, 1973) version of A Bukowski Sampler it is the same as the SF Review poem except there is no stanza break at the end.

Checking the photocopy I made of the earlier version of the Sampler (Quixote Press) "tears" has no stanza break either.
Except for the stanza-break, the versions in the 'Penguin'-book and in 'It Catches' are also like the earlier SF-version.

And, yes, in the earlier version, the man who shot the bird is talking to the woman (about the bird crying), while in the 'alternate' version Bukowski is talking - about the woman crying.

What I still find most remarkable is, that this is a pre-mortem change and I think we didn't have many of those before, did we? (except for 'Women' that is)
There are a few, but you're right, not many. Of course in comparison to what happened post-mortem, maybe it just seems like only a few.

All I know is when I'm adding stuff to the database, by default I choose "not altered" when adding something published during his lifetime and "altered" for everything after Betting on the Muse, and I have very, very rarely had to change that field after doing a comparison.

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