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Two Poems For Charles ( Hank ) Bukowski - Here's To Charles Bukowski - & Poems For Sale
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Two Poems For Charles ( Hank ) Bukowski - Here's To Charles Bukowski - & Poems For Sale
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Two Poems For Charles Bukowski
by Gordon Coombes

For Charles Bukowski NO. I
by Gordon Coombes

And here's to Charles Bukowski
I raise a glass of cold beer
I will not shed a tear
for his death
I know he lived
as best he could
gave as well as he got
living on skid-row
becoming a barfly
never wanted pity or love
scribbling away late at night
on bits of paper on liquor store receipts
with the remains of a broken chewed up pencil
listening to symphonies of Gustav Mahler
on a creaking scratchy little old record player
always drunk or hung -over
taking his chances on the horses-

for years I only heard about him in rumours
having lost everything myself
having hit rock-bottom
stumbling over his broken raggedy lines
they touched me to the bone
raw ragged & passionate
abandoning all I had written before
all of it barely touched the surface
all of it too abstract-

I raise another glass of cold beer
for Bukowski who called himself Hank
some days I give thanks to Hank
sometimes in the middle of a dark lonely
insomniac night facing the blank page
which stares me down I curse his name
I know he probably feels smug
but he is not to blame for the road I am on
I didn't want to be as desperate as he was
I just wanted - just a bit - a tad
- a smidgen of his talent-

I raise another cold glass of beer for Hank
a most unlikely poetic genius
a miserable cynical mystic
wrapped up in a gargantuan ego
& we'd probably hate each other on sight
for him I raise another glass of cold beer
as the night wears me down
as I sit here in Café Apollinaire
for his eyes I tell you were open
even in his drunkenness
his lines little flickering flames
attracting would-be-poets
& suicidal moths
so join me & we'll drink
another glass of cold beer to ah...
you know don't give me that blank look
the one you know who wrote about love
yeah...that's it love is a dog from hell
& the days runaway like wild horses
over the hills
his stupid thick as a brick father
beating him with a strap
his face like the moon
covered by craters
looking like an old man at seventeen
living as an outsider
writing a couple of thousand poems
finding fame & fortune late in life-

So let us raise another glass of beer for Hank
& another one for Baudelaire
to hell with it I down a few more beers
for a dozen more poets
just to blacken out the fear which comes to me
night after night -

Bukowski :Poems For Sale
by Gordon Coombes

This poem has gone through a number of versions. This version hopefully works best. The poem is in part a result of several dreams & attempts to capture this dream like quality & feelings of being observing the world as an outsider. It was originally entitled 'In Search Of Charles Bukowski" as a homage to him but it took on a life of its own. Sometimes we are taken in directions we did not expect.
The Cafe Apollinaire is mentioned in this poem. The Cafe Apollinaire is the title of a group of poems which I will be presenting here at a later date. It eventually took on epic proportions but more of this at another time.

Poems for Sale

I search these crowded
glittering neon-dripping streets
where everything is for sale
whores pimps drug-pushers
lawyers & politicians
sell you artful lies
seducing you for your money
your vote of confidence
stroking your ego
giving you a soothing massage
for your enfeebled mind & emaciated soul
all part of the art of seduction
handing you a lie
a bit of New Age bullshit
t.v. & barroom clichés
served up dishes of deep-fried insights
profound fortune-cookie wisdom-

newly arrived slumming pseudo-Bohemians
haven't a clue young men & women
trying to get close to the ground
it's too far down & it can't be done
with a safety net
the middle-aged former accountant explains
how he can live on a dollar a day
though it helps to have a fat bank account
to fall back on just in case
this soul crushing life of hunger & want
for him it's just an experiment
let him try to do it for real-

all those young kids hiding out
in some abandoned building
in the dead of winter
not getting any wiser
just thinner & desperate
believing in nothing at all-
old men in long grey beards
wearing six layers of coats & sweaters
begging to buy a cup of coffee
sitting on stone walls
reading a paper-back
smoking discarded cigarette butts
the sad-eyed woman
saying she's looking for the right man
always finds a guy who steals
what little she has
brags how easy she was
what a loser she is
while the misanthropic writer
claiming he hates everyone
turns sentimental
in the presence of a beautiful woman
acting like everyone's friend
for fear of making a scene
so many sell themselves
for just a few pieces of silver
setting up their wares in the temple courtyards
where I join them to sell
these sharp-twisted-barbs of words
needing food more than virtue-

standing by my stall on the sidewalk
selling my wares
outside the Public Gardens
on a sunny afternoon
‘Poems For Sale’ the poster explains
‘a few verses for a couple of bucks’
til someone stops
"Ah poetry, I like poetry
& you are a poet."
"Well... I like to think I am'
several more people gather
pointing their fingers at me
forming a Greek Chorus
raising their voices
accusing calling out
labeling my crime
"You've got me " I answer
"I am a poet in the living flesh
dying by the hour."
they pick up pieces of paper
rip them up throwing them into the air
like snow-flakes falling
a ticker-tape parade
I shake my head complaining
of my lack of sales to the Tarot card reader
all dressed in black
to compliment her long black hair
these other poor souls selling their wares
their labours of love their inspiration
the photographer in the black beret
photos of dead cars & groups of scarecrows
dancing round a bonfire
works of art in black & white
the sketch artist with long red hair
drawing people as they would like to be
the big black & grey bearded stone carver
who's always ready for a fight
the woman in a long flowered skirt
who sells little wire animals
they crowd in on me
trying to comfort me
I take my leave-

someone shouts after me
turning around I recognize a fellow-traveller
a writer waiting for a break
working in a laundromat folding clothes
sorting change
washing dishes in some restaurant
peddling stuff on the phone
stacking books at a library
the reward for four or five years
at some college
we head to Café Apollinaire
where after a couple of beers
the world will seem a friendlier place -

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