happy (belated) birthday Bukowski

For a very long time, I've had an intense admiration and poet's crush on Charles Bukowski. I've shared his poems and how deeply I've felt them, used them as mantras; discovering his work changed me as a writer and rescued me in oh, so many ways. Yesterday was his birthday. 

I thought I'd share a poem of his I've been thinking about lately. This week as I am meeting other new faculty across campus, we introduce ourselves and say things about our lives and try to remain composed and professional. My goal was to be open and make connections. I was explaining to someone that I often feel like this Bukowski poem, but they didn't know it so I talked about roasted marshmallow instead. But this, this is more beautiful. It is from The Last Night of the Earth poems.

"The 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?