Happy Birthday, Charles Bukowski!

1920-1994

Charles Bukowski 1920-1994

If I were asked to name an unofficial Patron Saint of Hard Living, Charles Bukowski would come to mind.

This prolific writer was unabashed about his drinking, turbulent love affairs with woman, and unconventional lifestyle. To his mind, those who met the status quo were the depraved ones. Read him for a while and you may decide he was right.

Out of his thousands of poems, most weren’t humorous. Here are three that are:

WORKING OUT

Van Gogh cut off his ear
gave it to a
prostitute
who flung it away in
extreme
disgust.
Van, whores don’t want
ears
they want
money.
I guess that’s why you were
such a great
painter: you
didn’t understand
much
else.

 

SHOES

when you’re young
a pair of
female
high-heeled shoes
just sitting
alone
in the closet
can fire your
bones;
when you’re old
it’s just
a pair of shoes
without
anybody
in them
and
just as
well.

 

BOB

the other day we were in a
bookstore in the mall
and my woman said, “look, there’s
Bob!”

“I don’t know him,” I said.

“we had dinner with him
not too long ago,” she said.

“all right,” I said, “let’s get
out of here.”

Bob was a clerk in the store
and his back was to us.

my woman yelled, “hello, Bob!”

Bob turned and smiled, waved.
my woman waved back.
I nodded at Bob, a very
delicate blushing fellow.
(Bob, that is.)

outside my woman asked, “don’t you remember him?”

“no.”

“he came over with Ella. re- member Ella?”

“no.”

my woman remembers everything.

I don’t understand it, although
I suppose it’s polite
to remember names and faces
I just can’t do it
I don’t want to carry all those
Bobs and Ellas and Jacks and Marions
and Darlenes around in my mind. eating and
drinking with them is difficult en- ough.
to attempt to recall them at will
is an affront to my well-
being.

that they remember me is
bad enough.

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