By Ken Bruen

"AWAIT THE OLDEST CURSE OF ALL"                                                 

-Charles Bukowski


"One Night Stand" from Poems Written Before Jumping Out of a Six Story Window


A recent interview I did, they asked me about the blog on Murderati

“How could you expose yourself so openly?”

Never my plan

When Alex invited me to join the crew, I thought

“No way, not even for Alex.”

And then I thought, maybe you can write a different kind of blog, where writers are not


Then life took over and I wrote about how things are on a daily basis

James Taylor …. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain ………….

Something Louise wrote in her last blog triggered a memory, my first time in America, I was 17 and oh so damn scared

Of everything

I got a job as busboy in Central Park

And learned what it’s like to be truly bottom of the food chain, Led Zepplin had their first album out and people were murmuring about a coming event at some place

called ……. Woodstock

Yeah, right, how long have I been around

Too long

The chef, I dunno why, took a shine to me and taught me how to ride a Harley and introduced me to heroin

I was flying

On all cylinders

I met a woman named Nancy, she was 25 ………… and that was so Mrs. Robinson for me

She thought my accent was cute and my naiveté even cuter

My visa ran out after five months and my last night in New York, before I went home to

attend Trinity in Dublin, I told her I loved her

Her laugh resonates even now

She said

“You crack me up.”

I gave her a ring I’d saved for and she looked at it, said

“It’s fake.”

My late brother came over for a weekend, he was a high flyer then, money to am …. burn ………..  and women just adored him, honest to god, we’d go in a bar, two seconds, he’d have a woman chatting him up and he’d say to me

“You need to lighten up, women don’t like that serious look you always have?”

They’d agree in Arizona

He thought life was just one massive joke and me, I never got the punchline, still don’t

I took him to Times Square, back then it was dangerous and not Disneyfied and went to see a movie that had just opened called The Wild Bunch

When I left him at the airport, he said

“Why do you always look on the dark side?’

He was already on his second bourbon, eyeing up a gorgeous lady and said

“Them books will be the death of you.”

His flight was called and he was already chatting up the lady, shouted

“Learn how to smile for fooksake.”

I did


Smiling is easy

He looked like David Cassidy, if anyone remembers him ……… and everything came easy to him, and that was his curse

I loved him to bits, still do

He never read a book in his short un-encumbered life, he saw his existence as …………… party on

I don’t regret for one moment not being invited to that party

And it’s unlikely at this stage I’ll ever get an invite

For a real smart guy, he was wrong about one thing

Books were my salvation

And remain so

I so deeply regret he never got to see either of my daughters, they saw his photo and asked

“Gee dad, were you jealous?’

Not one moment

He was my brother, gold and burning

Years later, I remember so much of my life that appeared gold, was indeed ………. fake

Nancy married a doctor, god bless her, no doubt he gave her real stuff

I don’t look back on that summer when I grew up, with bitterness, I do regret the three awful days, locked in a room going cold turkey from heroin

Rehab, like the internet, was unheard of

My next stint in New York, I was a security guard at The Twin Towers and gee, I’d really grown up, not tough cos I hate that shite, but as they say able to mind me own self and

Thank god, not one bit cynical

I swear on all that’s holy, I hadn’t learned how to be bitter or cynical then, I did later, but then I still, if not outwardly, at least lived in hope

How dumb was that

I still believed ….  in basic human goodness, all the shite that Oprah makes a friggin

Fortune upon

I got me Doctorate and was good to go


Am …………?

Stuff happened, ugly, violent and dark

I continue go to New York, I just love that city ………..  but live there ……….  I wish………… I

Lost something along the way, I know, not so much spirit as commitment

Jason Starr was asked in Arizona last weekend what I was like……….. that I sounded controlling, intense and dark

Nailed right there

A guru I heard recently said  …………..  go with the flow


I do the only thing I know

I write

Get in fights

And recently had a woman tell me

“I think you’re not quite what I’d been led to expect”

Fake perhaps?

Nancy would agree with her

I read my daily dose of philosophy and today it’s Jorge

“If only morning meant oblivion”

But God forbid I end on a dark note, I had an email from a lieutenant in Iraq, saying

American Skin is getting us through this horror.”

That is all I need to know

It’s been worth it for that

In Galway they say, the old people,

“He meant well.”

I didn’t  ……………  not a lot of the time but now and again  …………….

You know ……………

Fire and ……………………… the damn rain

Mostly I remember my brother loved James Taylor, I’m glad he didn’t get to see James lose his hair

He loved James’s hair, not unlike his own

Go figure

And when I played him Led Zepplin’s first, he said

“That shite will never sell.”

He was Bukowski, without the poetry


16 thoughts on “Await

  1. J.D. Rhoades

    “He was my brother, gold and burning”

    This line knocked me on my ass. Pure distilled 200 proof poetry. It’s that kind of beauty, even sometimes just the knowledge that it exists, that gets me through the day.

    Thanks, Ken.

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I agree about that line, Dusty.

    (Could so be said about my sister, too…)

    I often feel guilty that I ever asked you to do this, Ken. But every time I read a new post I think… well, somebody had to!

    You BETTER be in Anchorage when I get there. I’m still mad about Thrillerfest.

  3. Bryon Quertermous

    With so many blogs popping about about writers and writing, I’m ripped open every time I read one of your posts, Ken. I avoided reading them for a bit because they looked weird and I thought they were gimmicky, but it’s so natural and real and beautiful that I can’t imagine them any other way.

    Thank you for making blogs emotionally raw again, Ken.

  4. Evil Kev

    I am thankful that you are so honest in your posts about how you are feeling and how life can be so challenging. The courage to lay bare the darkness inside takes strength of character.

    I think being a good writer is one of the hardest jobs there is. To dreg up the most horrible experiences you have had and reliving them so you can capture on the page the pain and the horror you felt in the most realistic way possible and still managing to not let it destroy you, well, that is the bravest thing I can think of.

  5. billie

    The thing I love most about your posts is that in addition to being honest and real about the personal, daily life stuff, you teach us the most important thing about writing good fiction.

    Take on the dark stuff, take on the raw emotion, and illuminate it with poetry.

    It’s magic. You do it so well.

  6. Maryann Mercer

    You are a blessing, Ken, whether you believe it or not, and we are all the richer for your presence in this world. Thanks for that.


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