Happy Birthday Bukowski

Well, I was gonna post this on his actual birthday (August 16th), but I decided to turn it into a question. So today I am celebrating Charles Bukoski’s birthday. Not celebrating the way I should, of course. If I were, I would already be drunk. But I’ll probably read a couple of his poems and drink a Miller High Life or something. The first time I ever heard his poetry was on a camping trip and I was transfixed. The guy who was reading his poems was one of those friends you see every 3 or 4 years and thoroughly enjoy the time you spend hanging out with them and you both say you should do it more often and then you never do. Bukoski’s not for everyone. I have a number of friends who actively hate him, and many critics say he’s untalented and that he’s well known in America simply because we love turning our drunks into heroes. There’s no accounting for taste, I suppose, but I like his stuff. Here’s a really good intro to him in a Rolling Stone article from 1976. And below I have enclosed a couple of poems, though I think you’ve gotta read several and kind of fall into a groove with him.

to the whore who took my poems

some say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don’t keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; it’s stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn’t you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I’m not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won’t be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there’ll always be money and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

the trash can

this is great, I just wrote two
poems I didn’t like.

there is a trash can on this
I just moved the poems
and dropped them into
the trash can.

they’re gone forever, no
paper, no sound, no
fury, no placenta
and then
just a clean screen
awaits you.

it’s always better
to reject yourself before
the editors do.

especially on a rainy
night like this with
bad music on the radio.

and now–
I know what you’re
maybe he should have
trashed this
misbegotten one

ha, ha, ha,