• Charlotte Eriksson

My favorite Charles Bukowski poems

I picked up a worn-out copy of The Pleasures of the Damned by Bukowski while living on the road in England back in 2011. I was tired of order and tidy people, everyone acting fine. Bukowski was raw and real, dirty and decadent and I loved it.

the pleasures of the damned is still my favorite Bukowski collection if you're looking to get into his writings.

You can find it on amazon here.




“Great writers are indecent people

they live unfairly

saving the best part for paper.

good human beings save the world

so that bastards like me can keep creating art,

become immortal.

if you read this after I am dead

it means I made it.”

– Charles Bukowski



"Today I will walk in the sun. I will simply walk in the sun."

– Charles Bukowski, Selected Letters 1960 - 1970







"I want so much that is not here and I do not know where to go."

– Charles Bukowski



"I want to be with you, it is as simple, and as complicated as that." – Charles Bukowski


"when you left

you took almost

everything.

I kneel in the nights

before tigers

that will not let me be.


what you were

will not happen again.

the tigers have found me

and I do not care."

– Charles Bukowski







That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.

—  Charles Bukowski



“I will remember the kisses

our lips raw with love

and how you gave me

everything you had

and how I

offered you what was left of

me,

and I will remember your small room

the feel of you

the light in the window

your records

your books

our morning coffee

our noons our nights

our bodies spilled together

sleeping

the tiny flowing currents

immediate and forever

your leg my leg

your arm my arm

your smile and the warmth

of you

who made me laugh

again.”

– Charles Bukowski




“Don’t you have a knife somewhere deep in your heart where love left?” – Charles Bukowski



Roll the Dice

if you’re going to try, go all the

way.

otherwise, don’t even start.


if you’re going to try, go all the

way. this could mean losing girlfriends,

wives, relatives, jobs and

maybe your mind.


go all the way.

it could mean not eating for 3 or

4 days.

it could mean freezing on a

park bench.

it could mean jail,

it could mean derision,

mockery,

isolation.

isolation is the gift,

all the others are a test of your

endurance, of

how much you really want to

do it.

and you’ll do it

despite rejection and the

worst odds

and it will be better than

anything else

you can imagine.


if you’re going to try,

go all the way.

there is no other feeling like

that.

you will be alone with the

gods

and the nights will flame with

fire.


do it, do it, do it.

do it.


all the way

all the way.

you will ride life straight to

perfect laughter,

it’s the only good fight

there is.

– Charles Bukowski





"How can you say you love one person when there are ten thousand people in the world that you would love more if you ever met them? But you’ll never meet them. All right, so we do the best we can. Granted. But we must still realize that love is just the result of a chance encounter."

– Charles Bukowski




"Human relationships were strange. I mean, you were with one person a while, eating and sleeping and living with them, loving them, talking to them, going places together, and then it stopped." – Charles Bukowski, Women







"question and answer"

he sat naked and drunk in a room of summer

night, running the blade of the knife

under his fingernails, smiling, thinking

of all the letters he had received

telling him that

the way he lived and wrote about

that--

it had kept them going when

all seemed

truly

hopeless.


putting the blade on the table, he

flicked it with a finger

and it whirled

in a flashing circle

under the light.


who the hell is going to save

me? he

thought.

as the knife stopped spinning

the answer came:

you're going to have to

save yourself.


still smiling,

a: he lit a

cigarette

b: he poured

another

drink

c: gave the blade

another

spin.

– Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems




"The less I needed, the better I felt." – Charles Bukowski



"In the days when I thought I was a genius and starved and nobody published me I used to waste much more time in the libraries than I do now. It was best to get an empty table where the sun came through a window and get the sun on my neck and the back of my head and my hands and then I did not feel so bad that all the books were dull in their red and orange and green and blue covers sitting there like mockeries. It was best to get the sun on my neck and then dream and doze and try not to think of rent and food and America and responsibility. Whether I was a genius or not did not so much concern me as the fact that I simply did not want a part of anything. The animal-drive and energy of my fellow man amazed me: that a man could change tires all day long or drive and icecream truck or run for Congress or cut into a man’s guts in surgery or murder, this was all beyond me. I did not want to begin. I still don’t. Any day that I could cheat away from this system of living seemed a good victory for me. I drank wine and slept in the parks and starved…."

– Charles Bukowski



"I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. It didn’t make for an interesting person. I didn’t want to be interesting, it was too hard. What I really wanted was only a soft, hazy space to live in, and to be left alone." – Charles Bukowski


"there are worse things than

being alone

but it often takes decades

to realize this

and most often

when you do

it’s too late

and there’s nothing worse

than

too late."

– Charles Bukowski, oh, yes



"The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence."

– Charles Bukowski



"Something else is hurting you - that’s why you need pot or whiskey, or whips and rubber suits, or screaming music turned so fucking loud you can’t think." – Charles Bukowski


“there is a loneliness in this world so great

that you can see it in the slow movement of

the hands of a clock.


people so tired

mutilated

either by love or no love.


people just are not good to each other

one on one.


the rich are not good to the rich

the poor are not good to the poor.


we are afraid.

our educational system tells us

that we can all be

big-ass winners.


it hasn’t told us

about the gutters

or the suicides.


or the terror of one person

aching in one place

alone


untouched

unspoken to

watering a plant.”

– Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell



“Nobody can save you but yourself 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.” — Charles Bukowski


So you want to be a writer?

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don’t do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your

typewriter

searching for words,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it for money or

fame,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don’t do it.

if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,

don’t do it.

if you’re trying to write like somebody

else,

forget about it.


if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,

then wait patiently.

if it never does roar out of you, do something else.


if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend

or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all,

you’re not ready.


don’t be like so many writers,

don’t be like so many thousands of people

who call themselves writers,

don’t be dull and boring and pretentious,

don’t be consumed with self- love.

the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind.

don’t add to that.

don’t do it.

unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder,

don’t do it.

unless the sun inside you is burning your gut,

don’t do it.


when it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by itself and

it will keep on doing it until you die

or it dies in you.


there is no other way.

and there never was.

– Charles Bukowski



"The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them." – Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness


“… and we are in bed together

laughing

and we don’t care

about anything.”

– Charles Bukowski



“I was laying in bed one night and I thought I’ll just quit. To hell with it. And another little voice inside me said “Don’t quit. Save that tiny little ember of spark. And never give them that spark because as long as you have that spark, you can start the greatest fire again.”

– Bukowski



Want to read some more?

Drunk on someone else's love

I will be a writer now

I’m a completely independent artist, living all by myself with no other support than yours. If you find any comfort or hope in what I do, my music or my writings, please consider supporting me, in order to be able to keep doing this. To keep learning, creating, growing and sharing what I learn. Everything matters, between a coffee to a donation for my next album. 

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5am
again,
drunk on someone else’s love,
or couch,
and I’ve never felt more at home.

I fled myself,
from the life I’ve built
because I’ve been inhabiting routines I don’t want to stand for.

Inhabiting skin I’d rather shed
but still took on
like a soldier serving his country,
for that’s what they told me to do.
But I was not
strong
or wise,
but young and foolish,
for what is this thing? Trading passions for a tiny bit of acceptance,

and I am not a Sunday morning inside four walls
with clean blood
and organised drawers.
I am the hurricane setting fire to the forests
at night when no one else is alive,
or awake,
however you choose to see it,
and I live in my own flames.
Sometimes burning too bright and too wild
to make things last 
or handle
myself or anyone else
and so I run.
Run run run,
far and wide
until my bones ache and lungs split
and it feels good.
Hear that, people? It feels good,
because I am the slave and ruler of my own body
and I wish to do with it exactly as I please,
and living in this skin is hard and painful, most of the times,

because I never volunteered to take this on.

The daily sacrifice of heart over mind,
the forever on going task of explaining this and that,
and why I don’t want to look like this and
be like that
but still here I am and if this is the body I’ve been given I’m sure as hell gonna make it work.
If this is the place I’ve been given, I’m sure as hell gonna make this work.

So I fled the me that was never really me and I’m on my way. To newer lands and uncleaned streets
for I’ve had enough of childish safety in comfort.
Enough of all telling me to look and do, like this and that,

and I never meant to please anyone but myself
and you can call me selfish,
throw words like knives in the dark but I will not listen,
for not listening to sharp words brought me to where I am today
and I believe in the path I’ve been given. If my only task in this life is to walk it,
I surely will walk it
prouder than anyone else.

If this is the path I’ve been given, I will walk it
prouder than anyone else,
for no one else can.

// from my book You’re Doing Just Fine ☾

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