B is for Bukowski

I started reading Charles Bukowski after reading “to the whore who took my poems” on Emily Threlkeld’s blog during National Poetry Month two years ago. I liked that poem quite a bit, so I kept reading Bukowski. I met other people who read Bukowski, and they pointed me to other poems. Because we keep all his books behind our information desk so that people can’t steal them, it’s easy to page through them during rare slow moments at work.

Much as he remains a hit or miss poet for me, his hits are beautiful and shattering. I’ve been rereading “The Icecream People,” “Dreamlessly,” and “the harder you try” to the point where lines from them ring unbidden through my head, mostly when I’m walking alone but also when I’m feeling alone around a lot of people. My favorite Bukowski poem from this year is “Eulogy To A Hell Of A Dame.”

Eulogy To A Hell Of A Dame

some dogs who sleep At night
must dream of bones
and I remember your bones
in flesh
and best
in that dark green dress
and those high-heeled bright
black shoes,
you always cursed when you drank,
your hair coming down you
wanted to explode out of
what was holding you:
rotten memories of a
past, and
you finally got
by dying,
leaving me with the
you’ve been dead
28 years
yet I remember you
better than any of
the rest;
you were the only one
who understood
the futility of the
arrangement of
all the others were only
displeased with
trivial segments,
nonsensically about
Jane, you were
killed by
knowing too much.
here’s a drink
to your bones
this dog
dreams about.

~ Charles Bukowski


3 thoughts on “B is for Bukowski

  1. Bukowski is very influential, and it took me a while to see why. After I came to appreciate his work I wrote (and had published) a sonnet in his memory. I wrote a sonnet because I think its formality would have made him scowl, but secretly he would have been pleased.

    Marie Marshall

  2. A little dark cream, with a memory of a ice cream jingle, a smile and the shock of tears.
    Nice poem. Took me away!

  3. yeah his poems were like drunken haymakers, but when they connected they really packed a wallop. Theres a poem of his (title forgotten sorry) where he celebrates the minuatae of everyday life and concludes: “The politicians and generals may kill us all/but we have won”
    He could be screamingly funny, and gratuitously obnoxious, but in the end, he was a true Poet!

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