Recommendation: Bukowski

she gets into a crying-jag, she’s cute, really, and pitiful, all she wants
is what she always wanted, only it’s getting further and further
away.
from “downtown L.A.” by Charles Bukowski

bukowski
Cover of the book discussed in this posting

After starting to read “Love is a Dog From Hell”, a collection of poems by Charles Bukowski, I stopped somewhere after the first third of the book. The poems were interesting and — yup, they touched me, but I guess that was part of the problem. Love is not that comfortable a topic with me at the moment. Let’s just say next time Cupid appears and wants to shot an arrow, I would like to shot him first — with an hunting arrow whose steel tipped head expands upon impact and leaves the kind of injury you don’t want to survive.

Anyway, the second collection I ordered — “You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense” — arrived this week. And it’s … just the thing for me at the moment, I guess. At times, it’s like reading incredibly condensed essays that provide you with different points of view, or an interesting story that conveys rather intense bursts of emotions. Somehow the words have their own melody — and they are anything but cheesy pop. And after you encounter one that really hits you, it’s hard to continue reading the next poem. But then, it’s also hard not to. And some poems take some time before their effect comes through — a bit like the Elvish bread in “The Lord of the Rings”. Bad idea to eat a couple of them quickly.

Hmm, I would have never thought I like “modern” poetry. The school with its uninspired teachers did its best to quench any interest in poetry. But somehow, perhaps via the love of good quotations, it came back.

Anyway, highly recommended.

I probably can’t put (any more) complete poems here, but I guess I can end this posting with a couple of lines from “You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense” by Charles Bukowski:

they sit and watch the night; we’ve got the
power of sanity here.
from “working it out” (about his cats)

 

it’s when you’re on the row
that you notice that
everything
is owned
and that there are locks on
everything.
this is the way a democracy
works:
you get what you can,
try to keep that
and add to it
if possible.
from “trashcan lives”

 

I can’t forgive either of them
for their rich dumb lives
and I can’t forgive their precious toys
either
for being
that.
from “the lost generation” (about a rich pair and the artists which they “befriended”)

 

but, under all that, to me she’s the flower, I see her as she was
before she was ruined by the lies: theirs and
hers.
to me, she’s new again as I am new: we have a chance together.
from “downtown L.A.”

 

let them have the
stage
so long
as I need not be
in the
audience.
from “termites of the page”

 

he still couldn’t write or
what he wrote didn’t
work
because that tremendous
brave optimism
that buoyed everybody up
so well
during the depression
just turned to
sugar water
during
good times.
from “the still trapeze”

 

we are too senseless to go
insane.
from “sunny side down”

 

anyhow, then I went on to
city college
where the only molesting I
could see going on
was what they did to your
mind.
from “the chemistry of things”

 

“nothing matters and
we know nothing matters
and that
matters .. ”
from “rift”

 

thinking, the courage it took to get out of bed each
morning
to face the same things
over and over
was
enormous.
from “the freeway life”

 

I don’t know how he does it
but every woman he meets is
crazy.
he will get rid of one
crazy woman
but he never gets any
relief—
another crazy moves right in
with him.

[…]

he says you can’t tell at the first
meeting
they have their guard up
but after 2 or 3 months the
guard comes down
and there’s Al with
another one.
from “poor AI”

 

you should have seen them back then: raggedy-ass, wild-eyed, raving
against the order
now
they have been ingested, digested, rested
they write reviews for the journals
they write well-worked, quiet, inoffensive poesy
they edit so many of the magazines that I have no idea where I should send this
poem
since they attack my work with alarming regularity
and
I can’t read theirs
yet their attacks upon me have been effective in this country and
if it weren’t for Europe I’d probably still be a starving writer
or down at the row
or diggin weeds out of your garden
or … ?

[…]

and
either they’re right and I’m wrong or I’m right and they’re all
wrong
or maybe it’s some place in between.
most of the people in the world could care less
and
I often feel the same
way.
from “for my ivy league friends”

 

each man’s hell is in a different
place: mine is just up and
behind
my ruined
face.
from “let’s make a deal”

 

I sensed from the beginning, of
course, that there was a strange gnawing
inside of me
but I never dreamed this
luck
this absolute shot of
grace

my death will at most seem
an
afterthought.
from “I’ll take it …”

 

if you get married they think you’re
finished
and if you are without a woman they think you’re
incomplete.
from “for the concerned:”

 

and once great thoughts
often with time
become useless and
stupid.
from “a funny guy”

 

the price of creation
is never
too high.
the price of living
with other people
always
is.
from “final story”

 

finally, starved and beaten, I had to go into
the streets to be interviewed for low-paying and
monotonous
jobs
by strange men behind desks
men without eyes men without faces
who would take my hours
break them
piss on them.
from “friends within the darkness”

 

the secret is in the
imagination—
take that away and you have dead
meat.

a century back
a man could be driven mad
by a well-turned
ankle, and
why not?
one could imagine
that the rest
would be
magical
indeed!

now they shove it at us like a
McDonald’s hamburger
on a platter.

there is hardly anything as beautiful as
a woman in a long dress
from “O tempora! O mores!”

 

“the worst thing,” he told me,
“is bitterness, people end up so
bitter. ”
from “the passing of a great one”

 

that this man died
one of the slowest and
most horrible deaths
that I ever witnessed or
heard
about …

the gods play no
favorites.

I put the book down
beside me.

book on one side,
cat on the
other …

John, meeting you,
even the way it
was was the event of my
life. I can’t say
I would have died for
you, I couldn’t have handled
it that well.

but it was good to see you
again
this
afternoon.
from “the wine of forever” (about a dead writer)

and much much more 🙂

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