Monday, March 9, 2009

15 Years Ago Today: Charles Bukowski Dies in San Pedro, CA

Henry Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994), was a German American poet, novelist and short story writer. Bukowski's writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles, and is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of marginalized poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, the drudgery of work, and horseracing. A prolific author, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels, eventually having over 60 books in print. He is often remembered as "The Poet Laureate of Skid Row".

a poem I wrote about Bukowski:

"To a man I never met, yet know so well"

There is one night I remember well...

walking down Hollywood Blvd.
walking into a bookstore where you once roamed
I smelled the history
I felt you in there with me...

when asked of you -

"he used to come in and sell his autograph for a dollar
and then he'd go buy a drink across the street"
said the woman working the counter

walking back down the famed boulevard,
smiling, thinking of your life that once was

the past met the present in a whirl of Hollywood ghosts -

a lone dollar bill blew up the boulevard,
finding its ways to my feet, stopping there

Was that your dollar, Mr. Bukowski?

I'm quite sure that it was

Your tales of :

shitty jobs

have all given me much more than you will ever know

thanks for the dollar (I needed the drink)

and thanks for sanity amidst madness

- Mikeal P. Davis

My favorite Charles Bukowski poem:


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 you"

there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but, I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke
the whores
and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that he's 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 works?
you want to blow my book sales in Europe?"

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 sad..."

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

Charles Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9th, 1994, in San Pedro, California, at the age of 73, shortly after completing his last novel, 'Pulp'. The funeral rites, orchestrated by the widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin's book 'Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet'. His gravestone reads: "Don't Try", an epitaph that has sparked some speculation over its true meaning.

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