Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski , was a Los Angeles, California poet and novelist often mistakenly associated with Beat Generation writers because of alleged similarities of style and attitude. Bukowski's writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles. He wrote more than fifty books and countless smaller pieces. He is often mentioned as an influence by contemporary authors and his style is frequently imitated.
Found 114 thoughts of Charles Bukowski

A Radio With Guts

it was on the 2nd floor on Coronado Street
I used to get drunk
and throw the radio through the window
while it was playing, and, of course,
it would break the glass in the window
and the radio would sit there on the roof
still playing
and I'd tell my woman,
"Ah, what a marvelous radio!"
the next morning I'd take the window
off the hinges
and carry it down the street
to the glass man
who would put in another pane.
I kept throwing that radio through the window
each time I got drunk
and it would sit there on the roof
still playing-
a magic radio
a radio with guts,
and each morning I'd take the window
back to the glass man.
I don't remember how it ended exactly
though I do remember
we finally moved out.
there was a woman downstairs who worked in
the garden in her bathing suit,
she really dug with that trowel
and she put her behind up in the air
and I used to sit in the window
and watch the sun shine all over that thing
while the music played.

Charles Bukowski

How Is Your Heart?

during my worst times
on the park benches
in the jails
or living with
I always had this certain
I wouldn't call it
it was more of an inner
that settled for
whatever was occuring
and it helped in the
and when relationships
went wrong
with the
it helped
through the
wars and the
the backalley fights
to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade-
this was the craziest kind of

and to walk across the floor
to an old dresser with a
cracked mirror-
see myself, ugly,
grinning at it all.
what matters most is
how well you
walk through the

Charles Bukowski

My First Affair With That Older Woman

when I look back now

at the abuse I took from


I feel shame that I was so


but I must say

she did match me drink for


and I realized that her life

her feelings for things

had been ruined

along the way

and that I was no mare than a



she was ten years older

and mortally hurt by the past

and the present;

she treated me badly:

desertion, other


she brought me immense



she lied, stole;

there was desertion,

other men,

yet we had our moments; and

our little soap opera ended

with her in a coma

in the hospital,

and I sat at her bed

for hours

talking to her,

and then she opened her eyes

and saw me:

"I knew it would be you,"

she said.

then hse closed her


the next day she was


I drank alone

for two years

after that.

Charles Bukowski

The History Of One Tough Motherfucker

he came to the door one night wet thin beaten and
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway
and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said,"not much
chance...give him these pills...his backbone
is crushed, but is was crushed before and somehow
mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at
these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets
are still there...also, he once had a tail, somebody
cut it off..."
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough
one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.
"you can make it," I said to him.
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up.
you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left...
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!"
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
graphed together.
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.

Charles Bukowski

Another Day

having the low down blues and going
into a restraunt to eat.
you sit at a table.
the waitress smiles at you.
she's dumpy. her ass is too big.
she radiates kindess and symphaty.
live with her 3 months and a man would no real agony.
o.k., you'll tip her 15 percent.
you order a turkey sandwich and a
the man at the table across from you
has watery blue eyes and
a head like an elephant.
at a table further down are 3 men
with very tiny heads
and long necks
like ostiches.
they talk loudly of land development.
why, you think, did I ever come
in here when I have the low-down
then the the waitress comes back eith the sandwich
and she asks you if there will be anything
snd you tell her, no no, this will be
then somebody behind you laughs.
it's a cork laugh filled with sand and
broken glass.

you begin eating the sandwhich.

it's something.
it's a minor, difficult,
sensible action
like composing a popular song
to make a 14-year old
you order another beer.
jesus,look at that guy
his hands hang down almost to his knees and he's
well, time to get out.
pivk up the bill.
go to the register.
pick up a toothpick.
go out the door.
your car is still there.
and there are 3 men with heads
and necks
like ostriches all getting into one
they each have a toothpick and now
they are talking about women.
they drive away first
they drive away fast.
they're best i guess.
it's an unberably hot day.
there's a first-stage smog alert.
all the birds and plants are dead
or dying.

you start the engine.

Charles Bukowski

Young In New Orleans

starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for hours,
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, mabye it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the
New Orleans was a place to
I could piss away my life,
except for the rats.
the rats in my small dark room
very much resented sharing it
with me.
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
that spoke
an unblinking
women were beyond me.
they saw something
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
brought my
that was plenty for
me, that was
there was something about
that city, though:
it didn't let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
it let me alone.
sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape
as I heard the rats
moving about the
I preferred them
being lost,
being crazy mabye
is not so bad
if you can be
that way:
New Orleans gave me
nobody ever called
my name.
no telephone,
no car,
no job,
no anything.
me and the
and my youth,
one time,
that time
I knew
even through the
it was a
of something not to
but only

Charles Bukowski


We are like roses that have never bothered to
bloom when we should have bloomed and
it is as if
the sun has become disgusted with

Charles Bukowski

New Mexico

I was fairly drunk when it
began and I took out my bottle and used it
along the way. I was reading a week or two after
Kandel and I did not look quite as
pretty but
I brought it off and we
ended up at the Webbs, 6, 8, 10 of
us, and I drank scotch, wine, beer, tequila
and noticed a nice one sitting next to me -
one tooth missing when she smiled,
lovely, and I put my arm around her
and began loading her with bullshit.
when I awakened at 10 a.m. the next morning
I was in a strange house
in bed with this
woman. she was asleep but looked
I got up and here was one kid running around in a
crib and another one running around the floor in
pajamas. I picked up a letter addressed to one
"Betsy R.", so I went back and said,
"hey, Betsy, there are kids running around all over
this place."
"oh Hank, damn it, I'm sick. I want to sleep, not
"but look, the ..."
"make yourself some
I put the pot on and the little boy ran up in his
pajamas. I found a shirt and some pants and some
shoes and
dressed him.
then I cleaned a bottle with hot water, filled it
with milk and gave it to the kid in the
crib. he went for
then I went in and squeezed her
hand. "I've got to go. are you all
right ?"
"yes, a little sick. but please don't feel
I called a yellow cab and we went back across
is this what happened to
D. Thomas ? I thought.
if a man didn't think too much he could be proud of his little
conquests -
except that the women were better than we - asking nothing
as we squirted our poetry
our bullshit our
sperm to
we were sick poets sick
across town I knocked on the door of my host and
"what happened ?" they
"nothing. got
they sat a beer in front of me
and I drank it as if I were
a piece-of-ass
"somebody got a
cigarette ?" I asked.
"sure, sure."
I lit up and asked,
"heard from Creely
lately ?"
not giving a damn whether they had or

Charles Bukowski

The Aliens

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
they have moments of
but all in all
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
you may not believe
but such people do
but I am not one of
oh no, I am not one
of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
but they are
and I am

Charles Bukowski

Cause And Effect

the best often die by their own hand
just to get away,
and those left behind
can never quite understand
why anybody
would ever want to
get away

Charles Bukowski

Be Angry At San Pedro

I say to my woman, "Jeffers was
a great poet. think of a title
like Be Angry At The Sun. don't you
realize how great that is?

"you like that negative stuff." she

"positively," I agree, finishing my
drink and pouring another.
"in one of Jeffers' poems, not the sun poem,
this woman fucks a stallion because her
husband is such a gross spirit. and it's
believable. then the husband goes out
to kill the stallion and the stallion
kills him."

"I never heard of Jeffers," she

"you never heard of Big Sur? Jeffers
made Big Sur famous just like D. H. Lawrence
made Taos famous. when a
great writer writes about where he
lives the mob comes in and takes

"well you write about San Pedro," she

"yeah," I say, "and have you read the
papers lately? they are going to construct
a marina here, one of the largest in the
world, millions and billions of dollars,
there is going to be a huge shopping
center, yachts and condominiums every-

"and to think," my woman says smiling, "that you've only
lived here for three years!"

"I still think," I say,
changing the subject,
"you ought to read Jeffers."

Charles Bukowski

The Retreat

this time has finished me.
I feel like the German troops
whipped by snow and the communists
walking bent
with newspapers stuffed into
worn boots.
my plight is just as terrible.
maybe more so.
victory was so close
victory was there.
as she stood before my mirror
younger and more beautiful than
any woman I had ever known
combing yards and yards of red hair
as I watched her.
and when she came to bed
she was more beautiful than ever
and the love was very very good.
eleven months.
now she's gone
gone as they go.

this time has finished me.
it's a long road back
and back to where?
the guy ahead of me
I step over him.
did she get him too?

Charles Bukowski

Yes Yes

when God created love he didn't help most
when God created dogs He didn't help dogs
when God created plants that was average
when God created hate we had a standard utility
when God created me He created me
when God created the monkey He was asleep
when He created the giraffe He was drunk
when He created narcotics He was high
and when He created suicide He was low

when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountians and the sea and fire at the same time

He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.

Charles Bukowski

Rhyming Poem

the goldfish sing all night with guitars,
and the whores go down with the stars,
the whores go down with the stars
I'm sorry, sir, we close at 4:30,
besides yr mother's neck is dirty,
and the whores go down with the etc.,
the whrs. go dn. with the etc.
I'm sorry jack you can't come back,
I've fallen in love with another sap,
3/4 Italian and 1/2 Jap,
and the whores go
the whores go
from "All's Normal Here" - 1985

Charles Bukowski

The Genius Of The Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

Charles Bukowski

Trashcan Lives

the wind blows hard tonight
and it's a cold wind
and I think about
the boys on the row.
I hope some of them have a bottle of
it's when you're on the row
that you notice that
is owned
and that there are locks on
this is the way a democracy
you get what you can,
try to keep that
and add to it
if possible.
this is the way a dictatorship
works too
only they either enslave or
destroy their
we just forgot ours.
in either case
it's a hard

Charles Bukowski

Gamblers All

sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
I'm not going to make it, but you laugh inside
remembering all the times you've felt that way, and
you walk to the bathroom, do your toilet, see that face
in the mirror, oh my oh my oh my, but you comb your hair anyway,
get into your street clothes, feed the cats, fetch the
newspaper of horror, place it on the coffee table, kiss your
wife goodbye, and then you are backing the car out into life itself,
like millions of others you enter the arena once more.

you are on the freeway threading through traffic now,
moving both towards something and towards nothing at all as you punch
the radio on and get Mozart, which is something, and you will somehow
get through the slow days and the busy days and the dull
days and the hateful days and the rare days, all both so delightful
and so disappointing because
we are all so alike and so different.

you find the turn-off, drive through the most dangerous
part of town, feel momentarily wonderful as Mozart works
his way into your brain and slides down along your bones and
out through your shoes.

it's been a tough fight worth fighting
as we all drive along
betting on another day.

Charles Bukowski

Show Biz

I can't have it
and you can't have it
and we won't
get it

so don't bet on it
or even think about

just get out of bed
each morning

and go out into

outside of that
all that's left is
suicide and

so you just
expect too much

you can't even

so what you do
work from a modest

like when you
walk outside
be glad your car
might possibly
be there

and if it is-
that the tires

then you get
and if it

it's the damndest
you've ever
in it--

low budget
4 billion

and the longest
you ever hope


Charles Bukowski

My Groupie

I read last Saturday in the
redwoods outside of Santa Cruz
and I was about 3/4's finished
when I heard a long high scream
and a quite attractive
young girl came running toward me
long gown & divine eyes of fire
and she leaped up on the stage
and screamed: "I WANT YOU!
I told her, "look, get the hell
away from me."
but she kept tearing at my
clothing and throwing herself
at me.
"where were you," I
asked her, "when I was living
on one candy bar a day and
sending short stories to the
Atlantic Monthly?"
she grabbed my balls and almost
twisted them off. her kisses
tasted like shitsoup.
2 women jumped up on the stage
carried her off into the
I could still hear her screams
as I began the next poem.
mabye, I thought, I should have
taken her on stage in front
of all those eyes.
but one can never be sure
whether it's good poetry or
bad acid.

Charles Bukowski

As The Sparrow

To give life you must take life,
and as our grief falls flat and hollow
upon the billion-blooded sea
I pass upon serious inward-breaking shoals rimmed
with white-legged, white-bellied rotting creatures
lengthily dead and rioting against surrounding scenes.
Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh.
I hated you when it would have taken less courage
to love.

Charles Bukowski

You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.

Charles Bukowski

True Story

they found him walking along the freeway
all red in
he had taken a rusty tin can
and cut off his sexual
as if to say --
see what you've done to
me? you might as well have the

and he put part of him
in one pocket and
part of him in
and that's how they found him,

they gave him over to the
who tried to sew the parts
but the parts were
quite contented
the way they

I think sometimes of all of the good
turned over to the
monsters of the

maybe it was his protest against
this or
his protest

a one man
Freedom March
that never squeezed in
the concert reviews and the

God, or somebody,

Charles Bukowski

I Made A Mistake

I reached up into the top of the closet
and took out a pair of blue panties
and showed them to her and
asked "are these yours?"
and she looked and said,
"no, those belong to a dog."
she left after that and I haven't seen
her since. she's not at her place.
I keep going there, leaving notes stuck
into the door. I go back and the notes
are still there. I take the Maltese cross
cut it down from my car mirror, tie it
to her doorknob with a shoelace, leave
a book of poems.
when I go back the next night everything
is still there.
I keep searching the streets for that
blood-wine battleship she drives
with a weak battery, and the doors
hanging from broken hinges.
I drive around the streets
an inch away from weeping,
ashamed of my sentimentality and
possible love.
a confused old man driving in the rain
wondering where the good luck

Charles Bukowski

The Night I Was Going To Die

the night I was going to die
I was sweating on the bed
and I could hear the crickets
and there was a cat fight outside
and I could feel my soul dropping down through the
and just before it hit the floor I jumped up
I was almost too weak to walk
but I walked around and turned on all the lights
and then I went back to bed
and dropped it down again and
I was up
turning on all the lights
I had a 7-year-old daughter
and I felt sure she wouldn't want me dead
otherwise it wouldn't have
but all that night
nobody phoned
nobody came by with a beer
my girlfriend didn't phone
all I could hear were the crickets and it was
and I kept working at it
getting up and down
until the first of the sun came through the window
through the bushes
and then I got on the bed
and the soul stayed
inside at last and
I slept.
now people come by
beating on the doors and windows
the phone rings
the phone rings again and again
I get great letters in the mail
hate letters and love letters.
everything is the same again.

Charles Bukowski


we were young
at this
machine. . .
it was a most
only now
instead of
moving toward
moves toward
makes each word
into the
feeding a

Charles Bukowski
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