Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 51.1 (Charles Bukowski)

Bukowski, Charles
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills

I have read a few of Bukowski's books of poetry. I find a few of his poems to be pretty amusing. He's an especially effective writer of punch line poems. That is, poems that are more or less short stories cut into lines and are structured around the delivery of a punch line at the end of the poem. In one that I recall, he sits silently listening to a woman tell him what a lousy human being he is for about three pages. At the end of her diatribe she says something like -- "This fucking scotch is great. Let's play Scrabble." It's funny, but like a comedy record, once you've heard the punch line, the pleasure's gone. Unless of course, you are one of those people that is capable of listening to the same comedy record a hundred times. I am not.

I feel like I bought this at East Village Books in New York. At least, I remember that they were a used books store that had one small section of new books, about 90 percent of which were Black Sparrow titles, about 80 percent of which were Bukowski titles. They were more or less the first thing you would see when you walked in the door.

Anyhow, this is not one of the books that contains poems I remember having read by Bukowski. I think it's an early book, because many of the poems seem to have literary pretensions, unlike his later books which seem deliberately and often affectedly anti-literary. The end of this carries a faint echo Celan's poem "Psalm," which ends:

our pistil soul-bright,
with our stamen heaven-ravaged,
our corolla red
with the crimson word which we sang
over, O over
the thorn

And Bukowski:

Mongolian coasts shining in light

Mongolian coasts shining in light,
I listen to the pulse of the sun,
the tiger is the same to all of us
and high oh
so high on the branch
our oriole

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