Each Year The LUMMOX Journal has published a special issue in August, devoted to Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994). The following is from the 2000 FINAL special issue. You can purchase this issue for $4 (USA) or $6 (World) by sending a check or money order (made out to LUMMOX) to PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301, USA.
If you subscribe to the Lummox Journal ($20 for 12 issues - US, $30 - World) before August 30, 2000 you will also receive a copy of A. D. Winans' Remembering Bukowski as an added bonus!
This was the biggest issue ever! It included (in 5 different languages) poetry, essays, stories, lies, illustrations and photos by the likes of Charles Bukowski, John Thomas, Philomene Long, FrancEye, A.D. Winans, Gerald Locklin, Todd Moore, Raindog, Rene Diedrich, Scott Wannberg, Jay Alamares, Alex Thiltges, Will Merkens, Scott Gordon, Hugh Fox, John Macker, Dave Church, BZ Niditch, Sharon Hudson, Will Taylor, Jr and others.
It'll be "one hell of a Vienna..."
Here are a few samples:
what remains (for & after Hank Bukowski) the sidewalks still shake down beauty & sorrow beaneath the yellow sun but the guts & the gamble are considerably less now as a mutuel ticket datedmarch 9th is faded & folded into the solitude of a bookmark & the gods still laugh as they have always laughed as the ease & madness between a man & a woman continues to breed mysterious chasms the drink goes down good but probably would w/or w/o you as no one anticipates your next move. we are here & you have won. Jay Alamares Riverside, CA 2000
in the young reader's room while I wait for my youngest, I read Sounes' Bukowski bio with Hank's face taking up the entire cover. The blue-haired librarian keeps walking past me, giving me the once-twice- thrice over. I decide she can't decide what kind of pervert brings his child to the library. As she checks out an armload of Amy's books, she asks, "Don't you think that's the best Bukowski biography yet?" Robert Underwood Redlands, CA
March 13, 1994 They showed his picture on TV one night last week, the red swollen eyes like someone staring through slits in a window shade. I just bought a L.A.Times Sunday edition. The greatest poet that L.A. ever produced is dead. And there's not a word in here about him. Daryl Rogers Lexington, KY
Last Stop The old guy sat at the table with his wife his back faced the room a tuft of very white hair stood on his head like a cloud hovering close over San Jaoquin farmland. The old guy was about as big around as a minute his clothes hung loosely on his frame. He was doing his best to fill them with all that was left. The old guy's wife smiled and spoke to him in a low voice inaudible to the rest of the room her eyes twinkled as he worked on a piece of cake and sipped a cappuccino his hands trembling. As they left she balanced his frail frame against her own he was going as fast as he could and soon he would be gone all together. Raindog San Pedro, CA
dirty old men and the new double standard bukowski was right to apply the term to himself before anyone else could. he always had a knack for launching pre-emptive strikes, although they were sometimes unnecessary, even downright paranoid. but i'm sure he would have been accused by the envious of being a dirty old man if he hadn't already blithely applied the label himself. the problem is i've never understood what is supposed to be dirty: is being old dirty? is being old and sexual and finding the young attractive dirty? would it be okay for us to call a mature woman who was sexual with a much younger man a dirty old woman? an old slut? or would we be expected to treat her as some sort of heroic model of female self-realization? maybe the dirty old women don't want to compete with younger women for the attractions of the dirty old men. Gerald Locklin Long Beach, CA (previously published in The Reater magazine, UK, 1999) song 78 she's got scenic ovaries, & a taste for hormonal apocalypse drenched in the slowdripping saliva of the heavens. she's got my ventricle on a string, leading me around with inflamed nostalgia & craving for a simple shrouded tomorrow. dogs still bark outside, the drunks still mangle themselves in the night, but we seldom hear them these days. Scott Gordon Birmingham, AL READING THE LATEST POSTHUMOUS COLLECTION These aren't his best poems I can see them on the closet floor, a paper hill where he'd throw them when they came back from whoever rejected them. Then once in a while Stanley would come over and fine a good one or two and take them for his reading, but most of them he'd look at a minute then throw back: "That's shit." Bukowski would say later I don't see how a man can do that - look at poems for seconds and say This one's good, that's shit. But it's such good shit. I'm so happy hearing that voice and there's something special too about readfing Bukowski not because I'm grabbed and held by the lines that won't let go, but just because I want to. It's a fat book. I turn the page, say "Please. Tell me another story." They're not his best, but for me there's no such thing as a bad one. FrancEye Smith Palms, CA (Editor's note: FrancEye lived with Buk in the early 60s and is the mother of his daughter Marina combat primer they called Celine a Nazi they called Pound a fascist the called Hamsun a Nazi and a fascist. they put Dostoevsky in front of a firing squad and they shot Lorca gave Hemingway shock treatments (and you know he shot himself) and they ran Villion out of town (Paris) and Mayakovsky disillusioned with the regime and after a lover's quarrel, well, he shot himself too. Chatterton took rat poison and it worked. and some say Malcolm Lowry died choking in his own vomit while drunk. Crane went the way of the boat propellor or the sharks. Harry Crosby's sun was black. Berryman preferred the bridge. Plath didn't light the oven. Seneca cut his wrists in the bathtub (it's best that way: in warm water). Thomas and Behan drank themselves to death and there are many others. and you want to be a writer? it's that kind of war: creation kills, many go mad, some lose their way and can't do it anymore. a few make it to old age. a few make money. some starve (like Vallejo). it's that kind of war: casualties everywhere. all right, go ahead do it but when they sandbag you from the blind side don't come to me with your regrets. now I'm going to smoke a cigarette in the bathtub and then I'm going to sleep. Charles Bukowski San Pedro, CA ("combat primer" by Charles Bukowski Copyright © 1999 by Linda Lee Bukowski. Reprinted from WHAT MATTERS MOST IS HOW WELL YOU WALK THROUGH THE FIRE with the permission of Black Sparrow Press.)
(Editor's note: this tale is offered as history, albeit an oblique history. Anyone with knowledge of the events mentioned is invited to 'hold their tongue' until after the issue is resolved...)
There was Crazy Jack, passed out on the woodpile in the alley by the loading dock. I hadn't seen him in over a year, but I wasn't overly surprised to find him like this. He was bloody and his clothes were torn. One hand was holding onto a mangled bicycle. I woke him, took him inside the warehouse, and sat him down. He mumbled something about wine and fell asleep. I walked to the nearest liquor store for a couple bottles of Tokay.
When I got back to the warehouse, Jack was snoring. He hung halfway off the chair and was drooling contentedly. I rummaged around until I found an intact drinking glass, unscrewed the cap on one of the bottles and poured. For Jack, it was like smelling salts. I held the glass under his nose, and the cheap aroma brought him to partial consciousness.
"Right in front of you, Jack."
He downed the glass in one pull and filled it again. I went to the fridge for some beer. Screw top wine was a little much for me in the morning. I had a cigarette and watched him drink. He looked worse than usual. In fact, he was really bashed up. I wondered what the other guy looked like. When he was half way through the second bottle of Tokay he was ready to enter life again. He looked around the warehouse showing signs of awareness. He looked at me. His brow furrowed and he squinted.
"What're you doing here, man?"
"I live here, Jack."
"What about Jeff and Inara?"
"They're here. Dennis too."
"When'd you move in?"
"'Bout six months back. Got tired of Temple Street. Doug took over my storefront and fixed it up to pristine shape on the inside. He's casting those huge resin sculptures of his there."
Jack poured some more wine and stared down at the glass. I tossed him a pack of butts and got myself another beer. "What the fuck happened to you, Jack?"
He lit a smoke and eyed me suspiciously. "How do you mean?"
"Jesus Christ, Jack. Look in the mirror. You're all fucked up." He looked at his scabbed hands, a bloody knee sticking through his torn pants. He cautiously touched his beat up face. I asked again what happened. He took a drink and started talking. It came out fast like projectile vomit.
"Well man back about two years ago I moved up north to Mendocino and hung out in this little town on the coast which amazed me because everyone was friendly and would smile and say hello even to me out on the street where the air was good and smelled of the ocean and there was this little café with friendly waitresses and a good bar where I could drink and write and nobody was pissing me off and I camped in a lean-to that was upriver a ways and felt like a buddha, man, a fuckin' buddha sitting listening to the water and I'd write about that and about the town and it was good stuff too the best I've written in a long long time and I was in love with the town and I was thinking maybe I could stay and find a little place and I'd have friends and I would be a town fixture and the neighbor lady would bring me a pie once in a while and I'd get a dog and sit on the porch with it and drink moonshine but then something terrible happened man something deadly and evil. A McDonalds hamburger stand was built in the center of town and after a month or so of people lining up to stuff that shitfood into their faces the townspeople started to change and after a while they got kind of glaze-eyed and didn't say hello to each other or me on the street anymore and I realized that I was the only one who could see the truth like that guy in that body snatcher movie about the alien pods who take over the town and I knew it was no good trying to explain that it was the food and the constant smell of burnt meat from the McDonalds and the french fry grease globs floating through the air being breathed by everyone bringing everyone down man so I knew I had to take action and save the town by destroying the McDonalds and everyone would be shocked back to their senses and they'd have a parade and carry me on their shoulders through town and I was gonna be their hero man I was gonna be their FUCKIN' MESSIAH!"
Jack stood wide-eyed with his arms out, kind of leaning forward toward my chair, tense, sweaty and waiting, a bloody scabbed up grimacing evangelist. He teetered for a time, then slowly relaxed, sat down and drank some wine. I asked him what happened next.
"I changed my mind and rode my bicycle down here."
"Jesus, Jack, that's over 500 miles."
"No shit ."
"How'd you get so fucked up?"
"Born that way I guess."
"No, man, I mean who beat you up?"
"Nobody. I rode that fuckin' bike all the way down here and then two blocks away on Western I got hit by a truck. Now my bike is scrap metal. I thought maybe Dennis could make something out of it so I brought it over here. Hey, man, there's a reading at the L.A. Poet's Workshop tonight. A guy named Deely. Bukowski's gonna be there. Wanna go?"
Jack drank and slept the day away, occasionally saying hello to someone who came in and woke him up. If they mentioned his condition, he would point to me and say 'ask him', then go back to sleep.
Later on, Jack cleaned up a little. He pulled an incredibly wrinkled, skinny lapel, black suit out of a bag and put the jacket on over his bloody shirt. He washed his knees and donned the pants. Shoes on, no socks. He washed his face some, donned a pork-pie hat, some shades, and was ready to go. We got in my truck and headed out.
We made it over to East Hollywood to a storefront with a little sign in the window indicating what the place was about. We went through the door into a small room, unfurnished except for an empty display case and a wastepaper basket. The reading would take place in the back. Jack and I sat down at one end of the room and hit from the bottles we had with us. He had a bottle of T-Bird and I had a half pint of gin. People would come in and go to the back room to get their seats. A big guy came in and spit into the trash basket. He looked at us and came over. It was Charles himself.
"Hey-y-y-y-y Ja-a-a-ack. How you been?"
Before Jack answered, Bukowski belched and puked up some wine. It cascaded over his bottom front teeth but was caught by an outstretched bottom lip and diverted backward. Didn't spill a drop. He went back to the basket and spit the wine into it. He stood looking at it, then turned and said, "Came out clean as when it went in. I haven't eaten for days. You got some, Jack?"
Jack offered him some T-Bird. Bukowski made comment on the inadvisability of mixing white and red wine and then took a long drink anyway. I offered him some gin. He held his belly, thought a bit, and said 'maybe later'. A rarified refusal I'd wager. Jack introduced us and we all went into the back room.
Folding chairs were set up in front of a makeshift stage. People were sitting around drinking out of paper cups and trading gossip or info or observations. The poet was on stage adjusting the microphone stand and testing sound levels. Jack and Bukowski were catching up on old times. Finally things were ready to go and someone came out and introduced Deely. There was polite applause and the poet shuffled his papers on the lectern, cleared his throat, and read his first poem. He wasn't a good reader. He affected the classic Ferlinghetti drone combined with an unpleasant whininess. He got a little applause. Jack, who was sitting in the back row, started clearing his throat and coughing. Deely read another one. Jack drowned out the applause with loud coughing and hacking. Some people moved away from him, wary of getting hit by a piece of lung. Deely told Jack to be quiet so he could read. Jack complained that he had come to hear poetry. Deely said he was reading poetry. Jack disagreed strenuously. Bukowski said something to Jack and he sort of cooled out. For two poems. After the second, Jack told Deely what he thought of his work.
"That was a complete piece of shit. All of your work is fucking garbage. How can you read bullshit like that in public, man, don't you have any pride? Don't you care that people will know you're a charlatan?"
"Shut up Jack!! This isn't your reading!! This is my fucking reading and you shut up."
"The next thing you read had better be good, faggot. I want to hear a goddamn poem and not a bunch of sniveling shit! The next one better be something real, you pussy!"
Deely took a moment to pull himself together. He apologized to the audience for Jack's outbursts. Members of the audience fidgeted and looked about nervously. One smug sort turned to Jack and said with disdain, "WILL you be quiet, you vile man."
I could smell the malevolence lurking quietly behind Jack's shades. Halfway through the next poem he screamed out that Deely was a fraud and imposter. Deely yelled for him to fuck himself. Jack stood up, punched Mr. Smug, then charged the stage, knocking people off their chairs, kicking over chairs, cutting a violent swath towards Mr. Deely. Women screamed, men ducked and ran, and Jack flew into Deely, knocking down the lectern, scattering papers like dandelion seeds in the wind. Deely and Jack pummeled each other, and rolled off the stage. Deely connected with his best punch and Jack was stunned for a few seconds. Then he started throwing chairs. Deely ducked out the back door. Bukowski watched as Jack was finishing off the chairs. He kind of shrugged and walked out the door after Deely.
Jack laid himself out on the pile of chairs to catch his breath, looking much like he had this morning on the woodpile. I could hear someone crying outside. I suggested to Jack the strong possibility of police intervention and got him up and outside the building. We got in my truck and Jack lit a smoke. I gave him a shot of my gin. He grinned and said, "Stimulatin' poetry reading, huh?"
Will Merkens Long Beach, CA
This page was posted on July 6, 2000 and last updated:Dec. 6, 2000
LUMMOX Productions c/o PO Box 5301
San Pedro, CA 90733-5301