Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Bukowski

Posted on: September 26, 2008

I’ve never been much of a reader of poems, but recently, someone introduced me to the poetry of Charles Bukowski. The depth, poignance, freshness and importantly, truth of his poems struck me immediately.

Oh Yes

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late.

 

THE ALIENS
from The Last Night Of The Earth Poems

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction of distress.
they dress well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy death, usually in their
sleep.

you may not believe
it
but such people do
exist.

but i am not one of
them.
oh no, I am not one of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
them.
but they
are there

and I am
here.

Alone With Everybody

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else
fills.

 

Let It Enfold You

either peace or happiness,
let it enfold you

when I was a young man
I felt these things were
dumb, unsophisticated.
I had bad blood, a twisted
mind, a precarious
upbringing.

I was hard as granite, I
leered at the
sun.
I trusted no man and
especially no
woman.

I was living a hell in
small rooms, I broke
things, smashed things,
walked through glass,
cursed.
I challenged everything,
was continually being
evicted, jailed,in and
out of fights, in and out
of my mind.
women were something
to screw and rail
at, I had no male
freinds,

I changed jobs and
cities, I hated holidays,
babies, history,
newspapers, museums,
grandmothers,
marriage, movies,
spiders, garbagemen,
english accents,spain,
france,italy,walnuts and
the color
orange.
algebra angred me,
opera sickened me,
charlie chaplin was a
fake
and flowers were for
pansies.

peace an happiness to me
were signs of
inferiority,
tenants of the weak
an
addled
mind.

but as I went on with
my alley fights,
my suicidal years,
my passage through
any number of
women-it gradually
began to occur to
me
that I wasn’t different

from the
others, I was the same,

they were all fulsome
with hatred,
glossed over with petty
greivances,
the men I fought in
alleys had hearts of stone.
everybody was nudging,
inching, cheating for
some insignificant
advantage,
the lie was the
weapon and the
plot was
empty,
darkness was the
dictator.

cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments of
peace in cheap
rooms
just staring at the
knobs of some
dresser
or listening to the
rain in the
dark.
the less I needed
the better I
felt.

maybe the other life had worn me
down.
I no longer found
glamour
in topping somebody
in conversation.
or in mounting the
body of some poor
drunken female
whose life had
slipped away into
sorrow.

I could never accept
life as it was,
i could never gobble
down all its
poisons
but there were parts,
tenous magic parts
open for the
asking.

I re formulated
I don’t know when,
date, time, all
that
but the change
occured.
something in me
relaxed, smoothed
out.
i no longer had to
prove that I was a
man,

I did’nt have to prove
anything.

I began to see things:
coffee cups lined up
behind a counter in a
cafe.
or a dog walking along
a sidewalk.
or the way the mouse
on my dresser top
stopped there
with its body,
its ears,
its nose,
it was fixed,
a bit of life
caught within itself
and its eyes looked
at me
and they were
beautiful.
then- it was
gone.

I began to feel good,
I began to feel good
in the worst situations
and there were plenty
of those.
like say, the boss
behind his desk,
he is going to have
to fire me.

I’ve missed too many
days.
he is dressed in a
suit, necktie, glasses,
he says, “I am going
to have to let you go”

“it’s all right” I tell
him.

He must do what he
must do, he has a
wife, a house, children.
expenses, most probably
a girlfreind.

I am sorry for him
he is caught.

I walk onto the blazing
sunshine.
the whole day is
mine
temporailiy,
anyhow.

(the whole world is at the
throat of the world,
everybody feels angry,
short-changed, cheated,
everybody is despondent,
dissillusioned)

I welcomed shots of
peace, tattered shards of
happiness.

I embraced that stuff
like the hottest number,
like high heels, breasts,
singing,the
works.

(dont get me wrong,
there is such a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems just for
the sake of
itself-
this is a shield and a
sickness.)

The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
gas
again
but when the good
moments arrived
again
I did’nt fight them off
like an alley
adversary.
I let them take me,
i luxuriated in them,
I bade them welcome
home.
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
ugly,
I now liked what
I saw,almost
handsome, yes,
a bit ripped and
ragged,
scares, lumps,
odd turns,
but all in all,
not too bad,
almost handsome,
better at least than
some of those movie
star faces
like the cheeks of
a baby’s
butt.

and finally I discovered
real feelings of
others,
unheralded,
like lately,
like this morning,
as I was leaving,
for the track,
i saw my wife in bed,
just the
shape of
her head there
(not forgetting
centuries of the living
and the dead and
the dying,
the pyramids,
Mozart dead
but his music still
there in the
room, weeds growing,
the earth turning,
the toteboard waiting for
me)
I saw the shape of my
wife’s head,
she so still,
I ached for her life,
just being there
under the
covers.

I kissed her in the,
forehead,
got down the stairway,
got outside,
got into my marvelous
car,
fixed the seatbelt,
backed out the
drive.
feeling warm to
the fingertips,
down to my
foot on the gas
pedal,
I entered the world
once
more,
drove down the
hill
past the houses
full and empty
of
people,
I saw the mailman,
honked,
he waved
back
at me.

 

 

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17 Responses to "Bukowski"

Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of Victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.

— Emily Dickinson

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

HW Longfellow

VIII

Don Juan had got out on Shooter’s Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity;
While every thing around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard, — and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum: —
IX

I say, Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation,
Walk’d on behind his carriage, o’er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to ‘t, since he could not overcome it.
“And here,” he cried, “is Freedom’s chosen station;
Here peals the people’s voice, nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.
X

“Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
‘T is only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
Traps for the traveller; every highway’s clear:
Here” — he was interrupted by a knife,
With, — “Damn your eyes! your money or your life!” —
XI

These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
May find himself within that isle of riches
Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.
XII

Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, “God damn!”
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought ‘t was only their “Salam,”
Or “God be with you!” — and ‘t is not absurd
To think so: for half English as I am
(To my misfortune), never can I say
I heard them wish “God with you,” save that way; —
XIII

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant’s pudding —
Who fell, as rolls an ox o’er in his pasture,
And roar’d out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
“Oh Jack! I’m floor’d by that ‘ere bloody Frenchman!”
XIV

On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan’s suite, late scatter’d at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon’s late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish’d he had been less hasty with his flint.
XV

“Perhaps,” thought he, “it is the country’s wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don’t
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
But what is to be done? I can’t allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up; I’ll help you with the load.”
XVI

But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, “Hold! I’ve got my gruel!
Oh for a glass of max! We’ve miss’d our booty;
Let me die where I am!” And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, — he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying, “Give Sal that!” — and died.
XVII

DON JUAN

Don Juan: CANTO THE ELEVENTH
I

When Bishop Berkeley said “there was no matter,”
And proved it — ‘t was no matter what he said:
They say his system ‘t is in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it? I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the world a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.
II

What a sublime discovery ‘t was to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all’s ideal — all ourselves! — I’ll stake the
World (be it what you will) that that’s no schism.
Oh Doubt! — if thou be’st Doubt, for which some take thee;
But which I doubt extremely — thou sole prism
Of the Truth’s rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven’s brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.
III

For ever and anon comes Indigestion,
(Not the most “dainty Ariel”) and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of beings, stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The world, which at the worst’s a glorious blunder —
IV

If it be chance; or if it be according
To the old text, still better: — lest it should
Turn out so, we’ll say nothing ‘gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They’re right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what no one ever could
Decide, and everybody one day will
Know very clearly — or at least lie still.
V

Traditional Scottish Songs
– Scots wha’ hae’

From time to time there is a debate about a new Scottish National Anthem. “Scots wha’ hae'” and “Scotland the Brave” were early contenders for the honour. Here, is “Scots wha’ hae'” (Scots who have) written by Robert Burns as he imagined Robert the Bruce addressing his troops at Bannockburn.

You can also access an MP3 version of this song. Right click here and choose “Save link as” or “Save target as” to save the MP3 file to your hard disk (1.3Mb) or access the Web site if you want to play it first.

Scots wha’ hae’

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie!
Now’s the day, and now’s the hour:
See the front o’ battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn, and fleel
Wha for Scotland’s King and Law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa’,
Let him follow me!
By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

Return to the Index of Traditional Scottish Songs

I hate Bukowski. He’s as much a poet as I am a philosopher. Steer clear from crap I say. (and RIP Paul Newman).

liked some of them…and nice template.

Interesting poems, thanks.

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