Friday, October 18, 2013

Pleasures Of The Damned <- -> Charles Bukowski (Poems 1951 – 1993)


the bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be

then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do


Henry Charles Bukowski, was born Heinrich Karl Bukowski  on August 16,1920 a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. As a writer he used his home city of Los Angeles as his muse, writing poetry from the viewpoint of the poor, the homeless, the bums on skid row and the bar flies strung out on booze.  In his lifetime Bukowski wrote constantly, amassing thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, he would eventually publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose - earning the title of the "laureate of American lowlife" from Time magazine.  In the poem “ A poem is a city” he states that:

“a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers
filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen,
filled with banality and booze,”

This seems to be an apt description of his poetry and as such came to define the man himself, as though he was setting himself up as the “eternal loser”, the patron saint of the lost and lonely –  yet  he goes on to say in this same poem

“and now I stick this under glass
for the mad editor’s scrutiny,”

Thus acknowledging his role in the process, as an onlooker, placing  an image onto a Petri dish magnified, dissected and defined for our perusal, a knowing glance at us the reader, of his own role in the drama on the page.

Woman on the Street

her shoes themselves
would light my room
like many candles.


she walks like all things
shining on glass,
like all things
that make a difference.


she walks away.

This is what makes Bukowski as a writer interesting, and makes me think that the first poem on this page sums up my perception of this poet, there’s a bravado, a vulgarity that is merely surface, whilst just below the surface is the real poet, trapped in a web of his own creation, although willingly.

about the PEN conference

take a writer away from his typewriter
and all you have left
the sickness
which started him
in the

Pleasures of the Damned , is probably the definitive collection of Charles Bukowski’s poetry, and as such will come to define any future perception of him as a poet.  This is not a bad thing as it was compiled by John Martin who was Buksowski’s editor for most of his career & also the man who convinced him to leave his post office job and become a writer. Publishing his work first as Black Sparrow Press and since it closed in 2002, for Ecco.charles-bukowski-pleasures of the damned

For this collection Martin read through over 2500 poems and whittled them down to around 270, which in his opinion constitute  the “Best of”, making The Pleasures of the Damned, a celebration of Charles Bukowski’s life and his poetry, raising a glass to the writer and the whores, hookers, barflies and bums who danced through his words.

Van Gogh

vain vanilla ladies strutting
while Van Gogh did it to

girls pulling on silk
while Van Gogh did it to
in the field

unkissed, and

I pass him on the street:
"how's it going Van?"

"I dunno man," he says
and walks on.

there is a burst of colour:

one more creature
dizzy with love.

he said,
I want to leave.

and they look at his paintings
and love him

for that kind of love
he did the right

as for the other kind of love
it never arrived.

Charles Bukowski(Wiki)

Ecco - Bukowski

Pages on Bukowski





Suko said...

Power-full poetry. (My favorite is the bluebird....shh...)

Mel u said...

I must read him! This collection might be a good starting point. I was deeply moved by his poem on Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers

"she died of alcoholism
wrapped in a blanket
on a deck chair
on an ocean

all her books of
terrified loneliness

all her books about
the cruelty
of loveless love

were all that was left
of her

as the strolling vacationer
discovered her body

notified the captain

and she was quickly dispatched
to somewhere else
on the ship

as everything
continued just
she had written it."

Charles Bukowski

Brian Joseph said...

I had never heard of Bukowski but I really like the verse that you have posted. the bluebird is indeed very insightful. It certainly apples to poets but I think that it applies to many other people too.

Violet said...

Oh, Buk. He just breaks my heart sometimes. But, he lived and wrote with intention, and that takes a lot of courage. I will have to seek out this poetry collection.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Suko, it's great poetry isn't it.

Hi Mel this is a good place to start & you can see how that individuals life would chime with him.

Hello Brian, yes it would, but with this writer it has added depth to how he saw himself or how he projected himself.

Hi Violet, whilst checking him out for this piece, I read that he was more worried that his editor/publisher would die before him & wouldn't be around to publish his works. He was more concerned about his possible legacy than his day to day reality - I think that definitely shows his intent.

pukeowski said...

Bukowski has been a great influence to many of today's writers. His poetry is powerfull and dirty, grimy and so true.
Check out this link

It is about someone serving the best to bukowski's poetry by crafting some dark soundscapes around.

James said...

Sewers and banality do not appeal to me, but poems like the one on McCullers do, so I may try some Bukowski.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi pukeowski. Checked your link & liked what I heard on bandcamp. So thanks highlighting this to me

Hi James, sometimes you get known for what is only one facet of your personality & you go with it, because this is a definitive collection you get to see the lesser known aspects of this poet.