A Bukowski poem, on moving to LA

I don’t know too many writers — male mostly, I’ll admit — who didn’t go through their Bukowski phase. The question more tends to be whether, maybe how, they come out of it.

Charles Bukowski is, arguably, Los Angeles’ great poet. Ray Bradbury may have him beat as LA’s great writer, and any great number of great writers passed through here, perhaps doing a bit of work in Hollywood. But living, breathing, fighting in LA — that’s Bukowski.

His writing is raw, bare and stark. You can almost hear the clanking of the typewriter.

It’s writing that, for me at this point, doesn’t resonate so much. But yes, I went through the phase. I tend to take my poetry these days a bit more formalized and explicitly crafted. (Look through our old Wednesday poems to see what I mean.) The commonalities, if they ever were real, are largely gone, although the move to LA got me thinking again about his tales of race tracks and bars and alleys.

To learn a little more, here’s one site. And here’s a poem of his that feels relevant on an Ashtanga blog.



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 whores 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


Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “A Bukowski poem, on moving to LA”

  1. Love Bukowski. I agree as you age you grow out of rebelliousness. I recently re read On The Road for the millionth time and it resonated very differently for me this time. I was so far away emotionally from the premise of the story of youth. It’s too bad Kerouac didn’t settle down and raise a family I would have loved to have read his thoughts in that stage of his life. Some stories are timeless and some are of a time and Bukowski and Kerouac are that for me, of a time. Some authors can write about youth but the story is timeless like Tom Sawyer for instance. Bukowski is Rock N Roll all the way, debauchery on a shoe string down and out budget. He was fearless!

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