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.

***

Bluebird

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
you.
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
he’s
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
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
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
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

***

Posted by Steve

Eddie Stern, Ray Bradbury and Mr. Rogers walk into a blog

Eddie Stern finished off last week with two blog posts on two seminal figures from, I imagine, both my and his youth: Mr. Rogers and Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury, the great sci-fi writer, the one who perhaps elevated it to a respectable form of literary art (beyond what Edgar Rice Burroughs ever managed before him, for instance), passed away last week. Eddie links to a remembrance from the NY Times and then this video from David Bowie:

If you haven’t noticed, Eddie tends to have some musical touchstone for events. This makes sense if you know him or his history.

The Mr. Rogers post was brought on by auto-tune video that made the viral rounds last week. But leave it to Eddie to find a moment that points us to, you guessed it, yoga. He quotes from the Mr. Rogers’ Wikipedia page, a description of Mr. Rogers’ accepting an Emmy Award in 1997:

“Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.”

And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, “I’ll watch the time.” There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly “May God be with you,” to all his vanquished children.”

Get it?

Posted by Steve