Clint Margrave

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Young Bukowski

Some people online said it wasn’t him,
but I’d know that face anywhere.
He must be in his twenties.
Dressed fashionably.
Wears a white butterfly collar
and a black blazer. His dark hair
slicked back in the fashion
of the time.

“He looks like Nick Cave,” my girlfriend said.
“He looks malnourished,” said another friend.

I’ve seen other pictures from this era.
The one where he’s standing with his parents
wearing a suit and smiling.
The one where he’s lying on the grass
at LA City College.

But in this picture he isn’t smiling.
His eyes are earnest and lonely.
Behind them the memory
of his father’s razor strop across his back.
His scarred face, the face
of the introverted outcast
more than the self-parodying ham
of later years.

I wonder who took this photo.
Was it Jane, his alcoholic lover
who he’d eventually
have to bury?

Whoever it is, he isn’t looking
at them.  He isn’t even
looking at the camera.
He’s looking somewhere else.
Somewhere past it all.
Somewhere into the future. 


Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage(2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012),both published by NYQ Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, New York QuarterlyThe Writer’s AlmanacRattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK),among others.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA.