top of page

Looking for Bukowski in Palos Verdes; A Poem is the Chelsea Hotel by M.R. Mandell

Looking for Bukowski in Palos Verdes



I stumble over graves,


crushing flowers with my heels.


The sun fades into the hills,


gates scheduled to lock


at the first hint of night.


I scan the headstones,


they all look the same.


Rows of strangers


tucked under grass.




I am not afraid


as the dark settles in.


I feel alive surrounded


by ghosts, especially


the ones who died drinking


whisky as they typed.


I don’t mind silhouettes


gliding over mausoleum


walls, dead faces staring


through leaves.





I’m looking for the home


of his pockmarked skin,


and voice of a dying beast.


Whose words make witches cry,


and devils blush. They pull me


to my pen, haunt my poems


with their anthems.


They call me to this place,


perched on the peninsula’s tip.


To search for his simple epitaph.



Finally, I see him, resting on the ridge.


Alone. A space by his side,


waiting for his wife.


I kneel, wipe dust off his plaque,


smile as I read Don’t try


etched in stone.


I say a prayer,


and cry.

A Poem is the Chelsea Hotel


                        after Bukowski



A poem is a hotel bed,


with stained sheets,


and bras twisted under silk.



It’s the housekeeper counting


her tips, receptionist singing


the blues. It’s portraits of dead



artists glaring at strangers


slinking up stairs, haunted


eyes following them to their doors.



A poem is marble floors bruised


by the boots of Schuyler, Thomas,


Cohen, Vicious, Smith and Mapplethorpe.



It’s lyrics whispered into smoke,


lines scratched on envelope flaps,


pages crumpled in the trash,


chapters aborted in the dark.







A poem is face-slapping arguments


between lovers, poets coughing


up blood, blowjobs given


by fallen rock stars.




A poem is punks, pockmarked


and pale, shooting heroin


on the toilet tile. Knives thrust


into hearts. Fashion models


shivering on the roof, barefoot,


and alone.


bottom of page