Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A favourite Bukowski poem


I awakened to dryness and the ferns were dead,
the potted plants yellow as corn;
my woman was gone
and the empty bottles like bled corpses
surrounded me with their uselessness;
the sun was still good, though,
and my landlady's note cracked in fine and
undemanding yellowness; what was needed now
was a good comedian, ancient style, a jester
with jokes upon absurd pain; pain is absurd
because it exists, nothing more;
I shaved carefully with an old razor
the man who had once been young and
said to have genius; but
that's the tragedy of the leaves,
the dead ferns, the dead plants;
and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
and screaming
screaming for rent
because the world has failed us


R. W. Watkins said...

Yeah, I've always dug Bukowski too. I haven't read that much; and while he was alive, his personality dominated and sometimes overshadowed his actual work; but still, I like what I've read over the years. I haven't read any of them, but I've heard his short stories are quite the breath of fresh air as well. I know there's one book that features illustrations from the one and only Robert Crumb, with whom you are most likely familiar.

Brian Campbell said...

No, I was not familiar with him by name (you just made me do a Google scurry), but I think I had one of his comics (done in the same quite inimitable style) on my door back in /around university days. It had been passed on to me by a friend. It features a guy standing by an open dryer door in a laundromat holding a gun to his head. The caption beneath says something like "JOHN HARNEY of FLAT PLAINS,NEBRASKA went out for a BEER during the SPIN CYCLE and came back to find his CLOTHES ALL GONE." In the speech bubble above his head, he's crying out, "All my DRESS PANTS! All my T-SHIRTS! All my JOCKEY SHORTS!" The comic struck me as emblematic of the cultural poverty of North America, particularly the mid-west. I had never seen anything like it. It was a good measure of who shared my sensibility: people who did laughed out loud, people who didn't thought it was just stupid. Obviously it remains unforgettable to this day.

Brian Campbell said...

... oh, and I meant to add, click on the Bukowski label underneath this post and you'll find another featuring a couple of other good poems by him.

Jack Botkins said...

one of the best poems ever written.