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we hit skid row



[How Charles Bukowski might have handled the nursery rhyme ‘Hark, hark, the dogs do bark’]



we hit skid row

as the greasy rain


the sidewalks


we threw

our empty bottles

at the mutts



the dumpsters




we crashed out

in a doorway


for the city

to open


Johnny and me

pulled our


round us

feeling in

the torn pockets


I touched

the other guy’s sleeve



told me

just how far









Style / type: 
Free verse
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Posted at the request of CCfire and 49reasons.
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I am so happy you posted this, I wonder if old Hank ever got given a book of nursery rhymes lol your wit shines in this one.

"The perfect woman perpetrates literature as she does a small sin: as an experiment, in passing, to see if anybody notices it - and to makes sure that somebody does." - Nietzsche

I am still laughing at this.
Am so glad Chez didn't mix up her typing when commenting.


"While I'm writing, I'm far away;
and when I come back, I've gone."
— Pablo Neruda

... so am I!!!!


Nah pop no style, a strickly roots.

author comment

A great tribute to Chuck Buck. I'll take a look at your other stuff now. ThanX for posting.


Hi John. It was one of several, in prose and poetry, to try to show how writers such as Raymond Chandler, Samuel Beckett, W B Yeats, and Agatha Christie might have interpreted various nursery rhymes. I was going to do Irvine Welsh too, but someone beat me to it. :)


Nah pop no style, a strickly roots.

author comment

I would have said 17th century - it's supposedly the flight of the Prince of Wales (later Charles II) after the battle of Worcester. He disguised himself in peasant clothing.

Anyhow, I like your 'crooked man'.

It always surprises me just how tenacious folk tales, nursery rhymes, playground games, etc actually are. I hear children reciting stuff that I knew when I was little, and some of those go all the way back to the Middle Ages.


Nah pop no style, a strickly roots.

author comment

Not according to my study. The origin you quote is one which is circulating widely on the internet. It seems that one site 'feeds' off the unreferenced 'information' on the other. The rhyme has often been thought to be a Jacobite slur on the Hanoverians, or to refer to William of Orange and his followers, but the first recorded mention of it is in 1675. I'm afraid I can't give you a reference for my view that the 'one in a velvet gown' is Charles II, because it comes from a pre-internet source, but if the first recorded example is 17th century then the context is just about right; it also fits the account of Charles' flight with his royal clothes hidden under 'rags'.

Granted that R J A White implies that it has Tudor origins, following a statute of 1563, but he in turn gives no reference to his assertion, and does not even try to explain the 'one in a velvet gown'. (WHITE R J A, 1967, "A Short History of England", Cambridge, The Cambridge University Press, p133). There is a reference to a different version of the rhyme in Ashley (ASHLEY W J, 1888, "An Introduction to English Economic History and Theory", London, Longmans, p352) which doesn't really help us much. The reference to William of Orange is supported by editions of the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (OPIE Iona & OPIE Peter [eds], 1951-1997, "Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes", Oxford, Oxford University Press), but Katherine Thomas suggests a Civil War origin with the Royalist siege of Bristol by Prince Rupert's army (THOMAS Katherine Elwes, 1930, "The Real Personages of Mother Goose", Boston, Lothrop Lee & Shepard) although Cullinan and Person throw doubt on her general accuracy (CULLINAN Bernice E & PERSON Diane G, 2001, "The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature", London, Continuum International Publishing Group). I can't find a reputable source that dates the rhyme to a time earlier than any of the above and, to my mind, the 'one in a velvet gown' line, whether an original line or one inserted to suit a particular set of circumstances, is a strong enough piece of evidence for that particular version referring to Charles II.


Nah pop no style, a strickly roots.

author comment

I like this take on "Hark". You capture Bukowski's flavor very well.

My scottish grandmother used to tell me that the nursery rhyme refered to theives: some were innocent beggars dressed in rags, the theives with jags, and their ringleader in velvet. Later I read of Charles II, and William Of Orange, and all seem perfectly valid to me, although William of Orange I thought a stretch, since he appears to have been welcomed by the English.
Perhaps the poem's meaning has changed to fit circumstances, over the centuries.

You poem reminded me of two men I met in Paisley when I was young. They were newly released convicts, both in dark greatcoats with pockets filled with cheap vodka. I invited them to a party I was going to at a friend's flat, and wow, what a time we all had, those guys were celebrating.

Good Stuff Marie, thanks for posting.

Respectfully, Jim

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

Thanks Jim, glad you liked it.


Nah pop no style, a strickly roots.

author comment
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