If it wasn’t bad for you, I’d be all in.
I wouldn’t have been proud to have Charles Bukowski as a son; he tried to smack women, was a raging alcoholic and was as crude as men get. I’ve dropped my fair share of F-bombs, but there’s a sure limit when cursing leans from a directed, shocking and sometimes comedic act to just poor taste and an indication of one’s intelligence or lack thereof.
On the other hand, Bukowski was a genius poet and, given his addiction and attitude, and that he worked for the United States Postal Service, it was a miracle he didn’t go postal before going postal was cool. For most of his life he denounced that institution, but at least he didn’t kill anyone.
Bukowski is known as a drinking, puking, pissing, fighting fall-down drunk poet, who started in the a.m and ended in the a.m., too. I’m not sure that is something to be proud of.
Despite those woes, he was a productive writer and penned numerous books, one of my favorites being a collection of poems called, Betting on The Muse, which Alaskan author Troy Letherman introduced me to. Letherman is so enamored with Bukowski’s work and was so eager for me to read Bukowski, that he penned a lengthy Bukowski poem on lined pieces of paper and presented it to me. I’ve thrown away a lot of papers over the years, but I’ve held those as treasure.
A few of the lines in that poem, An Empire of Coins, which aren’t nearly as influential in this broken context, go as follows:
the legs are gone and the hopes—the love of outpouring
and I haven’t shaved in sixteen days
but the mailman still makes his rounds and
water still comes out of the faucet and I have a photo of
myself with glazed and milky eyes full of simple music
in golden trunks and 8 oz. gloves when I made the
only to be taken out by a German brute who should have been locked in a cage for the insane and allowed to drink blood
“darling,” says one of the girls, “you’ve got to snap out of it, we’re running out of MONEY. How do you want your toast?”
light or dark?
a woman’s a woman, I say, and I put my binoculars between
her kneecaps and I can see
where empires have fallen
No, I don’t think Bukowski would have been a role model son, but he felt and wrote about it well. If you read his work you’ll identify with some of the frustration—it’s a life and life in general wrapped into those pages. I’m not sure what Bukowski most liked to drink—probably it was always the next one he might have, whatever it might be—but some have suggested that the boilermaker was his big ticket. If you’re into pageantry, you can pour a shotglass of whiskey into a glass of lager and drink a boilermaker that way. If you’re barebones and just want to get it down, let your stomach do the mixing.
2 oz. bourbon, rye or blended whiskey
8 oz. lager
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