Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Bukowski…the uninhibited bachelor: drunk, slobby, anti-social, vulgar, utterly free, and possibly the best American poet of the 20th century. I watched a movie the other day where one of the characters said the secret words of life were ‘be present’. Bukowski was the only poet I got as a young adult (yea--so I was a bit slow when it came to such things) probably because he was so present and direct, as Bono says in the documentary ‘Bukowski: Born Into This’ he went to the bone, the marrow of the bone with his direct style.

He didn’t even start writing poetry until he recovered from a life threatening illness in his 30’s, but continued to work as a postal clerk to pay the bills. It wasn’t until he was 49 that he started writing full time. As he explained in a letter at the time, "I have one of two choices -- stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

Be Kind

we are always asked
to understand the other person's
no matter how
foolish or

one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
especially if they are

but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
because they have
out of focus,
they have refused to

not their fault?

whose fault?

I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their

age is no crime

but the shame
of a deliberately

among so many


Charles Bukowski

1 comment:

Scott Lahti said...

I trust you've seen the Barbet Schroeder-directed BARFLY from 1987, with Mickey Rourke channeling Snagglepuss in the title role in a blend of patrician loftiness and jaunty swagger. Here is Anthony Lane on Matt Dillon pulling off a like rendition of Chinaski/Bukowski:

"The beautiful joke of 'Factotum' is that Dillon is nobility itself. He may also be savage, swiping Taylor off her barstool with a backhand smack, and he is certainly wounded, rising from his bed to throw up and then swig his first beer of the day, yet there is something graven and classical in the brow and bearded chin which speaks of disappointed hauteur; he is like a leftover Roman, beaten up by the places he once aimed to conquer and falling, inch by inch, on his sword. In the words of one onlooker, 'You look like you’ve been around. You look like you’ve got class.'"

I enjoyed reading POST OFFICE and HOLLYWOOD, the latter a version of his stint with Schroeder, Rourke, Dunaway and Co. bringing BARFLY to the screen. I owe to that film also my introduction to Alice Krige, on whom my enduring crush hatched instanter.