5 Poems by Charles Bukowski…

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Charles Bukowski told Sean Penn in an interview:

“I always remember the schoolyards in grammar school, when the word “poet” or “poetry” came up, all the little guys would laugh and mock it. I can see why, because it’s a fake product. It’s been fake and snobbish and inbred for centuries. It’s over-delicate. It’s over-precious. It’s a bunch of trash. Poetry for the centuries is almost total trash. It’s a con, a fake.”

“There have been a very few good poets, don’t mistake me. There’s a Chinese poet called Li Po. He could put more feeling, realism, and passion in four or five simple lines than most poets can in the twelve or fourteen pages of their shit. And he drank wine too.” [1]

Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski August 16, 1920 in Andernach, Germany, Bukowski’s family moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1923. His American serviceman father and native German mother met after WWI and married a month before his birth. [2] The family moved to his South Central Los Angeles, where his father had grown up, in 1930. His child hood was troubled by his abusive father. [3] He began drinking in his early teens, believing alcohol a helpful medication for coming to terms with himself. [4] He graduated from Los Angels High School and went on to Los Angeles City College for two years.

Bukowski was arrested for draft evasion during WWII and held in a prison in Philadelphia for two and a half weeks. He failed a psychological exam for entrance to the military and was deemed unfit for service. [5]

Bukowski wrote short stories but became disillusioned with publishing and took odd jobs. For ten years he lived in rooming houses. During this time he drank. [6] Bukowski began writing poetry in 1955 after having had serious health issues. [7] He was married to Barbara Frye for a couple of years in the late fifties. He began drinking again after his divorce. [8]

Bukowski was deeply troubled by the death of Jane Cooney Baker in 1962. She had been his first close relationship, and he wrote about her passing in his work after her death. [9] From 1967 to 1969 he wrote “Notes of A Dirty Old Man,” a regular column in an underground L.A. Paper. [10] In 1969 Bukowski began a relationship with Black Sparrow Press, and grateful for their support, he published nearly all his future works with Black Sparrow Press. [11]



Text of Poems


The Mockingbird


Startled Into Life Like Fire


About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter




The trash men



Sources and References

[1] Tough Guys Write Poetry, Charles Bukowski by Sean Penn, Interview magazine, September 1987


[2] Wikipedia: Charles Bukowski, from Howard Sounes, Charles Bukowski; Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life.


[3] [4] Wikipedia: Charles Bukowski from Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye, Ecco, 1982


[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [11] Wikipedia: Charles Bukowski


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