Need Inspiration? A Little Bukowski Never Hurts


June 24, 2013 by Lindsay

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For me, writing and painting are inextricably linked. I am most definitely not a writer. I like to write, but that’s not the same as being good at it. However, the things that I can’t find a way to put into words, I can communicate through painting. Because, for me, the two are so connected– nothing can inspire me to paint like an amazing piece of writing. I plan to go into the writing-art connection more in a future post. For now, I just wanted to pass on a bit of inspiration in the form of Bukowski, one of my favorite writers.

Good ol’ Charles Bukowski is one of my go-to’s when I’m in need of a little amazing, powerful, gut-wrenching writing.  Today, I took a few of his books off my shelves and spent an hour or so reading through all the poems I’d dog-eared at one time or another. As always, he inspired a flood of ideas, not to mention the kick-in-the-pants needed to finish the setting-up of my studio (laundry room). Bukowski will more than likely make frequent appearances on this blog, but today I’ll just kick things off with a few of his poems that are my all-time favorites. Enjoy…

FYI:  I checked the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Poetry to make sure it would be ok to post these– and it seems to be AOK. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, you’re welcome to read a summary of the Best Practices here, courtesy of Samizdat Blog). Bottom line, you can enjoy the following poems free of any guilt associated with being an accomplice to copyright infringement.

Betting on the Muse

Charles Bukowski

Jimmy Foxx died an alcoholic
in a skidrow hotel
Beau Jack ended up shining
just where he
there are dozens, hundreds
more, maybe
thousands more.
being an athlete grown old
is one of the cruelest of
to be replaced by others,
to no longer hear the
cheers and the
to no longer be
just to be an old man
like other old

to almost not believe it
to check the scrapbook
with the yellowing
there you are,
there you are,
victorious; there you are,

the crowd has other
the crowd never
never grows
but the crowd often

now the telephone
doesn’t ring,
the young girls are
the party is

this is why I chose
to be a
if you’re worth just
you can keep your
hustle going
until the last minute
of the last
you can keep
getting better instead
of worse,
you can still keep
hitting them over the

through darkness, war,
good and bad
you keep it going,
hitting them out,
the flashing lightning
of the
beating life at life,
and death too late to
truly win

From Betting on the Muse: Poems & Stories
published 1996


Charles Bukowski

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 ****s 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 nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

From The Last Night of the Earth Poems, circa 1992

A Radio With Guts

Charles Bukowski

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.

3 thoughts on “Need Inspiration? A Little Bukowski Never Hurts

  1. Tracy says:

    Hmm I never read him before. I’ll have to check him out further.

    • Lindsay says:

      If you do, I’d love to hear what you think!
      Two more that I’ve always loved and recommend as good places to start:

      2 flies and tough company.

      both are from Play The Piano Drunk Lie A Percussion Instrument Until The Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit (btw, that’s one of my all-time favorite titles of anything ever)

      And of course, one more thing– Thanks for taking time to visit my blog… and for commenting… AND the likes. You’re awesome :)

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