nobody but you
nobody can save you but
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
to make you submit, quit and /or die quietly
nobody can save you but
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don't, don't, don't.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
do you want to experience
death before death?
nobody can save you but
and you're worth saving.
it's a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.
think about it.
think about saving your self.
your spiritual self.
your gut self.
your singing magical self and
your beautiful self.
don't join the dead-in-spirit.
maintain your self
with humor and grace
wager your self as you struggle,
damn the odds, damn
only you can save your
do it! do it!
then you'll know exactly what
I am talking about.
Charles is my favorite author. I have almost everyone of his books. His poetry and short stories touch me deeply. He was a chronic alcoholic. He lived in the mean streets. He has helped me with my life and my job. I just wanted to do a post on him. I lift my glass of wine and I toast to the greatest writer that ever lived.
Birthday: August 16, 1920
Birthplace: Andernach, Germany
Real Name: Henry Charles Bukowski
Parents: Henry Charles and Katharina [Fett] Bukowski
Description of Father: "[A] cruel shiny bastard with bad
breath . . ."
Education: Attended Los Angeles City College, 1939-41
Work History: Manual worker in a dog biscuit factory,
slaughterhouse, potato chip warehouse and various
other dead-end jobs; Postal Carrier; Postal Clerk; Drunk
Medical History: Suffered from Acne Vulgaris,
Hemorrhoids, Acute Alcoholism
Literary Influences: Conrad Aiken, Louis Ferdinand Celine
(Journey to the End of the Night), Catullus, Fyodor
Dostoevsky (Notes from the Underground), John Fante,
Knut Hamsun (Hunger), Ernest Hemingway (early writings),
Robinson Jeffers (long poems), James Thurber
Nonliterary Influence: Red Strange (aka Kid Red),
a mentally ill tramp and derelict friend of Bukowski who
wandered the highways and byways of America.
Bukowski often plied Red with beer and encouraged
him to relate his wildest stories, many of which ended
up in Bukowski's own poems and short stories.
Interests: Horse playing, classical music, fat whores
Alter Ego: Henry "Hank" Chinaski
Drug of Choice: Alcohol
Long-time Publisher: Black Sparrow Press (defunct)
On Solitude: "I was a man who thrived on solitude;
without it I was like another man without food or water.
Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride
in my solitude; but I was dependent on it.
The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me."
On Work: "It was true that I didn't have much ambition,
but there ought to be a place for people without ambition,
I mean a better place than the one usually reserved.
How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at
6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress,
force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair,
and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially
you made lots of money for somebody else and
were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?"
On Skid Row: "Those guys down there [in skid row] had
no problems with women, income tax, landlords,
burial expenses, dentists, time payments, car repairs,
or with climbing into a voting booth and pulling the
curtain closed." [Factotum, 1975]
On Rejection Slips: "And rejections are no hazard; they
are better than gold. Just think what type of miserable
cancer you would be today if all your works had been
[Letter to Jory Sherman, April 1, 1960, included in
Screams from the Balcony, 1993]
First Published Short Story: "Aftermath of a Lengthy
Rejection Slip," March-April issue of Story magazine, 1944
On Short Stories: "I do not believe in writing a short story
unless it crawls out of the walls. I watch the walls daily but
very little happens." [Letter to Ann Bauman, May 21, 1962,
in Screams from the Balcony, 1993]
On Hemingway: "Hem had style and genius that went
with it, for a little while, then he tottered, rotted,
but was man enough, finally, and had style enough,
finally." [Letter to Neeli Cherry, 1962, in Screams
from the Balcony, 1993]
On The Beat Generation: "Now, the original Beats, as
much as they were knocked, had the Idea. But they were
flanked and overwhelmed by fakes, guys with nicely
clipped beards,lonely-hearts looking for free ass,
limelighters, rhyming poets, homosexuals, bums,
sightseers - the same thing that killed the Village.
Art can't operate in Crowds. Art does not belong
at parties, nor does it belong at Inauguration Speeches."
[Letter to Jon Webb, 1962, in Screams from the Balcony,
First Book of Poetry: Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail, 1960
(shortly after the publication of this chapbook, Bukowski
attempted suicide by gassing himself in his room, but
quickly changed his mind . . .)
Post Office (1971)
Erections, Ejaculations and General Tales of
Ordinary Madness (1972)
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974)
Love is a Dog from Hell (1977)
Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981)
Ham on Rye (1982)
War All the Time (1984)
On Drinking: "Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what
a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep
himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank.
When you drank the world was still out there,
but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat."
On Personal Hygiene: "Nothing is worse than to finish
a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper
container empty. Even the most horrible human being
on earth deserves to wipe his ass." [Factotum, 1975]
Films Based on Work:
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983 - Italian) - Director:
Marco Ferreri. Starring: Ben Gazzara, Ornella Muti,
Susan Tyrell, Tanya Lopert, Roy Brocksmith.
Gazzara is severely miscast in this debacle based
loosely on "The Most Beautiful Woman in Town."
Barfly (1987) - Director: Barbet Schroeder. Starring:
Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige, Jack
"Eraserhead" Nance, J.C. Quinn,
Frank Stallone. Bukowski wrote the screenplay for
this cult classic based on his early experiences in skid
row. He even appears in a cameo as one of the barflies.
Love is a Dog from Hell (1987 - Belgium) - Director:
Dominique Deruddere. Starring: Geert Hunaerts,
Josse De Pauw. Adapted
from Bukowski short stories, mainly "The Copulating
Mermaidof Venice, California." Bukowski considered
it the most faithful adaptation of his work.
Walls in the City (1995) - Director: Jim Sikora.
Starring: David Yow, Michael James, Tony Fitzpatrick,
Paula Killen, Bill Cusack.
Three short films based on Bukowski short stories
about assorted barflies.
On Movies: "Want me to name [my favorite films]?
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,'
'Elephant Man,' 'Eraserhead,'
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' - that's a classic.
[Akira] Kurosawa and those great battle scenes.
And all those great samurai films where guys
are chopping heads off." (Film Comment interview, 1987)
On Barfly: "Mickey Rourke is a real human guy,
on and off the set.
And in 'Barfly' he really came through with the acting.
I felt his enjoyment and inventiveness.
Faye Dunaway just can't match his talent or
his humanness but she filled her role."
[Film Threat interview, 1987]
On Television: "We got cable TV here, and the
first thing we switched on happened to be
'Eraserhead.' I said, 'Oh,
this cable TV has opened up a whole new world. We're
gonna be sitting in front of this thing for centuries.
What next?' So starting with Eraserhead we sit here,
click, click, click - nothing."
(Film Comment interview, 1987)
On Politics: "I used to lean slightly toward the liberal left
but the crew that's involved, in spite of the ideas, are
a thin & grafted-like type of human, blank-eyed
and throwing wordslike vomit." [Letter to Tom McNamara,
July 14, 1965,
in Screams from the Balcony, 1993]
On Luck: "I'm one of those who doesn't think there
is much difference/between an atomic scientist and
a man who cleans the crappers/except for the luck
of the draw - /parents with enough money to point
you toward a more/generous death./of course,
some come through brilliantly, but/there are thousands,
millions of others, bottled up, kept/from even the
most minute chance to realize their potential."
["Horsemeat" in War All the Time, 1984]
On Death: "I want to die with my head down on
this/machine/3 lines from the bottom of the/
page/burnt-out cigarette in my/fingers, radio
still/playing/I just want to write/
just well enough to/end like/that."
["suggestion for an arrangement" in
War All the Time, 1984]
Cause of Death: Leukemia
Date of Death: March 9, 1994
Final Resting Place: Green Hills Memorial Park,
Palos Verdes, California
Epitaph: "Don't Try"