Saturday, September 25, 2010

Love One Another

Day 229 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and David is reading The Last Night on the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski, because his mother died last night.

By coincidence, I was with my mother last night at the same time.

We seek comfort, wisdom, beauty, truth wherever we can, and so often in our imaginative literature--poetry and fiction.  Truth in fiction, in poetry.

Kathryn is reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and cannot put it down, because it is good.

People are beautiful, aren't they?  Oh, let us love one another.


DJ Vorreyer said...

The last line of this post should be the ending of a poem. :)

Kathleen said...

Well, I think "Love, let us be true to one another" from "Dover Beach" is close, eh?

Kathleen said...

Plus, Jesus.

Kim said...

It's always Jesus. And love. Love one another, love thy neighbor, the fundamental glue is love. All we need is love. Imagine.

Kathleen said...

Bananas also make a very strong glue.

ron hardy said...

Especially when they're nestled with peanut butter and honey. We need bananas in boats next to nuts under a fudge or butterscotch tarp.

Kathleen said...

Or when they get really ripe, drip down from where they are hanging onto the wooden lazy Susan and glue the pegs in place. But, really, bananas can be made into glue, paper, and kimonos.

ron hardy said...

I didn't know that Kathleen. This is crazier than crazy glue. Can I wash my banana pants?

Mark Kerstetter said...

Do you recommend Bukowski's poetry? I keep seeing so many references to him that I wonder if I should give him another chance (read some of his fiction years ago and found it of limited interest).

Kathleen said...

I have read some Bukowski poems that I really liked and some that I sort of shrugged at, but I was younger then. I have not sought him out, but I did like "Gas," posted today on the Writer's Almanac, because it is hilarious and bitter and godawful and true. Some people are really like that grandmother....

I know that we can't keep Bukowski on the shelves here at Babbitt's for more than a day or two because so many people like him--mostly men. Must strike a chord.

Harlow Flick said...

I am a loyal Bukowski fan.

Having said that, I would be reluctant to recommend him to anyone. His pieces are often casually composed, redundant, misanthropic, misogynistic, and crude. I do think that his best work is very good, though I suspect the thousands of pieces could easily be boiled down to two hundred. But I am glad for all of it.

He writes about drinking, whores, horse racing, death, aging, fame, the writing process, cats, sex, boredom, jobs, literature, classical music, and day to day existence in a very plain spoken, non-poetic language. Though it helps, you don’t have to be particularly perceptive or learned to read him.

I also find his simple back story interesting. As a boy, his father beat him with a leather strap if he missed a few blades of grass when mowing. As a teenager, he had horrible acne so bad that he regularly had it drained at the hospital (thus, the facial scars), and it made him an outsider.

He spent many years living in boarding houses working a series of menial jobs. He also worked 11 years at the post office. But he wrote and wrote the entire time. He sat at his manual type writer to the early hours of morning, listening to classical music on the radio, smoking, drinking, and writing. At around age fifty, he rather suddenly became successful. This did not appear to change him much.

A musical equivalent might be Tom Waits, who is also a Bukowski fan.

He is perhaps the most half-assed and crude writer I have ever read, but in the mix is a good and aching heart, and somehow, I love him.

Below is what I consider to be one of his best pieces.

-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 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

Kathleen said...

There you go, Mark, in answer to the Bukowski question. Harlow Flick puts it well, indeed, as does Bukowski, himself.