Charles Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920. He came to America in 1922 and stayed here until his death in 1994. He is considered by many to be one of the original "bad boys" of modern poetry, and is still the bane of many "Academic" poets since his passing.
Published in over twenty different languages, his 40+ books are still being sold world-wide. His principal publisher is Black Sparrow Press. As of this date (1998) "Hank" is still missed daily by those of us who cherish his memory. Wherever you are, this one's for you, baby!
“Bone Palace Ballet” - Charles Bukowski - Black Sparrow Press, 1997
I’ll make no bones about it (sorry), I’m a Bukowski fan. I have been one for years, the whole of my adult life (28 years) in fact. I have read most of his books, two or three times, although my collection has expanded and contracted over the years (people have a habit of ‘borrowing’ and then forgetting to return his books). With each new publication, my collection grows; as does my appreciation. This book only enhances my opinion of this great writer.
Unlike “Betting on the Muse”, this book is all poems. And unlike previous books of all poetry, where there might be ten poems out of a hundred that I really like, “Bone Palace” literally drips with very good poetry! Don’t get me wrong here, Bukowski is a master of the modern American short story, mixing humor with ordinary events to produce a believable, if not sardonic take on things. But, my money will always be on the poem, the Bukowski poem.
Gerry Locklin has written a lot about Bukowski over the years. He just sent me a piece for the August 1997 (LUMMOX Journal) All Bukowski issue; Reflections and Recollections. In it he talks about what he calls Bukowski’s “Art Of The Ordinary”. He refers to the ability to take simple events and chronicle them as just that: simple events. Not to turn them into metaphors for some greater nobility or cause celebre.
In “Bone Palace Ballet”, we again witness this process of observation the he has come to represent. My only regret is that he is not still among us (it’s petty, I know) so that we could congratulate him on another job well done. We can only continue to hold his memory dear and uphold the “Art of the Ordinary” in our own work. This is, perhaps, the best kind of acknowledgment.
"Bone Palace Ballet” is available at most (if not all) bookstores.
Raindog (LUMMOX Journal - June 1997)
The following poem was inspired by the book "Bone Palace Ballet":
THE POEM WILL SAVE YOU by Raindog (World-wide rights reserved, 1997)
“even their nightmares are ringed with tinsel” Charles Bukowski
It’s the middle of May and a warm tropical rain is falling turning dusty streets into greasy ones. I’m reading the newest book of poesy from my favorite, now dead, poet and marveling at his clarity and the strength of his lines. He said it “The poem will save your ass from madness” The poem will save you while fat drops of acid rain descend while the bills pile up while the paint peels while you wait and wait and wait for something to change it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something The poem will save you while your auto insurance climbs while the phone screams your name while the pipe calls to you from the other room while your heart considers the pros and cons of retirement while the babies scream for attention while your mind begins to go while lovers dream of each other while you dream of becoming someone else while hookers hook and junkies junk and the stoner gets steadily dimmer while the whole county flatlines from a bad batch of crystal while the beer goes flat while the women come and go while you jerk into the hollow memories of their brief laughter while someone lets the air out of your tires and the wind out of your sails and the joy out of your days while the life seeps out of your windows and each breath takes you farther away from life and closer into death’s final orbit while the warranty on your vcr runs out while the internet sucks you off while the open grave waits patiently and the orange waits to be peeled and the lights flicker and the ground moves and the really important stories wait to be sold and the needle crawls across the floor at 3 a.m. like an inch worm while you wait for it’s promise of happy stupidity while you binge on lollypop dreams of power and glory while they plot the next turn in your life while the streets are overrun with anger and revenge while you grab as much of the pie as you can carry while the 911 call goes unanswered while the oven begins to look very inviting while you place a razor blade on your tongue and swallow while you eat all the right food groups and still get cancer while you starve to death on a diet of empty promises still-born dreams and low-fat hopes
The poem will save you The poem will save you.
FOR CHINASKI by Raindog (world-wide rights reserved C.1994)
I could never get it up for anyone like I did for Chinaski Oh, I tried the other boys ( some of the old-school is interesting) but I didn’t think the odds of survival in the nineties, pretty boy, soundbyte, mini-mall, computer-enhanced, MTV landscaped, SPOKEN word world, would be too good, for the boys of yesteryear. But Chinaski...... Now there was a man! Chinaski was the voice, the Walter Winchell of the damaged, the drunken, and the loner... Chinaski took sloth and made it sound virtuous he took debauchery and turned it into a democratic right he made the D.T.’s sound like a rite of passage and he cooed to us, he lulled us into bed willing and able, wanting to be raped. Chinaski He worked the crowd like Elmer Gantry he didn’t have to pick your pocket while he mesmerized you with tales of madness; you paid willingly! You bought that lake front property in Arizona- you bought the myth... Step right up! Three for a dollar! Chinaski was the whore with a heart of gold He could blow away your troubles and mercifully let you sleep it off between clean sheets...
Even the name sounded good, tough and clean He was the “x” rated Indiana Jones, bullwhipping his way thru skid row rescuing madwomen from nazi power junkies of corporate America and their ass-licking toadies: “40 hour week” and “overtime”. He always kicked ass and even got some along the way, as he fought for the next pint, the next long shot winner...
he was the long shot that finally paid off the horse that snuck out of the pack on the last turn and beat the odds-on favorite by a nose. And what a nose! In his last days, as everything shrank, only the nose remained feeding on the dying embers of his face, the nose loomed...
After cheating at so many things, after cheating the hell outa life, with only so many ways to cheat death, only so many cards, his hand played out, finally Chinaski folded ( someone else will cash in his chips...)
A name, a nose, a voice Women Hot Water Music Ham On Rye Post Office Factotum Love is a Dog from Hell You get so Alone War all the time Mockingbird The Days run Away Earth Poems Screams Living on Luck Betting on the Muse
The body of work lives on, the memory of the man lives on But the body of Chinaski is gone, vanished
And we... We move on, excitement junkies waiting for the next turn-on But I doubt I’ll ever get it up again like I did for him For Chinaski!
This page last updated 6/15/98
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