Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Act of Bravery


Let's pretend we're in a bar in Los Angeles, an area near Echo Park. It's August 16th, let's say 1979 (that way, I could attend this soiree, as I was between marriages at the time). Just for tonight, we'll overlook the heavy smoke and make our way to the corner table where a rather rough-edged fellow, who has returned for this occasion, is seated with a few friends. RZ has just bought a round of drinks to celebrate. Someone else has brought a cake decorated with a 1950's pin-up girl in a sailor's hat (I can't say for certain, but I think "Hank" would like that). We've gathered to celebrate the birthday of a man I don't know well, probably not well enough to call him Hank, as his friends do, but I feel I've come to know him a bit through his poetry. He's not going to read his poetry tonight, though, he's just here to have a good time, as are we all, to celebrate life a bit more enthusiastically than usual. As is often the case, he has some words of wisdom to share with us, and we're ready to listen. He seems to be a brave man and brave men should be celebrated. We've learned it comes in many forms, but exposing your soul might be the bravest act of all. It's something he does well, and, it seems, fearlessly. Here's what he's telling us:

"War Some of the Time"

when you write a poem it
needn't be intense
it
can be nice and
easy
and you shouldn't necessarily
be
concerned only with things like anger
or love or need;
at any moment the
greatest accomplishment might be to simply
get
up and tap the handle
on that leaking toilet;
I've
done that twice now while typing
this
and now the toilet is
quiet.
to
solve simple problems: that's
the most
satisfying thing, it
gives you a chance and it
gives everything else a chance
too.

we were made to accomplish the easy
things
and made to live through the things
hard.


~ Charles Bukowski, from Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way.


Happy Birthday, Charles, and thank you for helping me to better understand another side of life.


Henry Charles Bukowski  (August 16, 1920 - March 9, 1994)






35 comments:

  1. Yes! That Is Something Often Missed.Poetry is not Solitary ...It should be a communal thing.

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  2. Hello Teresa:
    Yes, we are quite sure that baring the soul must be amongst the bravest actions any human being can do. To expose oneself in such a fashion, risking rejection or ridicule or, perhaps, even worse complete indifference would surely make even the strongest amongst us think twice before doing it.

    A wonderful birthday tribute to Charles Bukowski.

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  3. ". . . to solve simple problems: that's the most satisfying thing. . . " How that grabbed me, just now, as I'm struggling with so many things, hoping to just solve one. A wonderful poem by Bukowski, and a beautiful tribute to him on his birthday, Teresa. I loved your own lead-in to it. You are truly a gifted writer.

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  4. Provocative poem. Thanks for sharing the inspiration and the information.

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  5. Wonderful!
    Reading this made my afternoon. I have something in common with a writer!

    I need to remember to let go of the big problems and work on the little things that make up life. I have to go now and make a pie for a someone who needs it.

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  6. A toast to Charles, an influence in my life.

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  7. Thank you Teresa! Today I oiled the back door hinges and the handle. They don't squeak any more!

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  8. Great poem and wonderful idea. Thanks for posting - yet another poem you have found which I don't know but is worth knowing.

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  9. Such an original and interesting post. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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  10. Thank you all for coming to the celebration, for your comments and contributions!

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  11. Thank you for this gentle soul being introduced to me. I LOVE that poem. Hugs to you...

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  12. Okay, I can do something small like that. Like right now, I'm going to make dinner out of leftovers, and we won't be hungry for a while. It's kind of encouraging to count one's small victories, isn't it?

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    1. It certainly is. And this is a great example.

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  13. I loved your set up more than the poem - and I loved the poem! Always such a pleasure reading you, m'friend =]

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  14. I love this, Teresa. I never read blogs. I never really read much at all these days. But I was compelled to visit your blogsite. You have made such a beautiful place here. The great prose. The art. The great poetry. I'm a big Bukowski fan. And now I'm also a big Evangeline fan.

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    1. Joe, I'm so honored that you've visited my site. Thank you for taking the time and for all the encouraging words.


      I encourage anyone reading this to visit Joe's blog. He's Such a good writer.

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  15. Life is poetry. Even fixing the toilet can be Haiku. It's paying attention and truly seeing what happens. It's picking your battles, surviving, one foot in front of the other... and writing about a butterfly on a petunia. Bukowski wasn't so much celebrating a birthday as he was celebrating LIFE.
    I'm really into this post. Thank you for it.

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    1. Yes, agreed, all of us there "to celebrate life a bit more enthusiastically than usual" - Life, in capital letters, as you've suggested. It's really the seemingly little things that give it meaning. Bukowski captured it so well in this poem, I thought.

      Thanks, Connie! It's nice to hear from you.

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  16. I read over today's post a few times and really enjoyed it Teresa! I've never read any of Bukowski but I'm being prompted I think...I keep bumping into him, the other day someone text me to ask had I read any of his work. In the last week I've seen several other mentions of him, and now here he is again.
    I loved your story at the start of your post. I was right there with you, I too was between marriages..well running into the ending of the first actually. I'm sitting next to you in my flared jeans and jazzy tight tshirt!
    Cheers!

    Hugs Jane

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Jane. It's interesting, isn't it, how someone will suddenly be everywhere?

      To bell-bottoms and tight t-shirts, and Charles Bukowski! :)

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  17. Ah the simple and mundane things of life somehow loom large nowadays. That quote about democracy really strikes home.

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  18. I'll gladly help you celebrate the birth of a poet; I can think of nothing more life-affirming.

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  19. Dear Teresa, I was talking to a Minneapolis friend yesterday on the phone. She's a poet and I was telling her about you and the poems you share with us on this blog. I said that reading them made me want to take a course on contemporary poetry--oh, to take that course at the U of M! And she recommended that I begin my own course for myself by reading "Next Word Better Word" by Stephen Dobyns. The library didn't have it, so I've ordered it from Amazon. She said that I'd meet a lot of contemporary poetry in it and could, in reading the samples, decide which poets I'd like to follow up on. What do you think of that plan?????? Peace.

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    1. It's a perfect plan. And you sure can't go wrong with anything Stephen Dobyns has his hand in. He's another of my favorite poets. How many is that now? :) I like anthologies for the very reason you mentioned.

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  20. I am never disappointed stopping here. Thank you, thank you, for helping me today, and from the looks of it, lots of others, to see value in small accomplishments and in the art of daily living.

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    1. I'm glad you stopped and that it helped. It's gratifying to find that what is helpful to me is to others, as well.

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  21. Sehr schöne Worte in Zeilen gefasst...

    Lieben Gruß
    CL

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting my site and for those kind words.

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  22. I love CB. I read much of what he wrote in his early years and then lost touch. My youngest son started to read him about eight or nine years ago and picked up the old habit again. Reread some of the early stuff (especially his short stories which are kinky and satisfying) and I also read some of his later stuff. In his own way a genius, wouldn't you say, but I can't help but wonder what he would have written like if he were sober most of the time.

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    1. It might have changed everything, it might have changed nothing. I suspect he would be a different writer. Creativity doesn't require existential angst, to put it kindly, but it sure has introduced us to some fine writers, artists of every nature. Genius, for some, has been a double-edged sword.

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    2. I'll never know about genius, but I can pretend. In the meantime I'll be happy that Bukowski was there for all of us no matter what was his motivation.

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  23. Your blog is a fine pull-off spot on life's scenic highway

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