I never understood people like Bukowski because I grew up in a different world, one of a warm family. School was the enemy, not my parents or home.
I felt that Bukowski and others were trying to tear the world apart or make it seem ugly for whatever reasons were making them unhappy.
Only much later did I realize that a huge number of people grew up in broken homes and poverty and were expressing their rage and hurt.
Still, that dark side of life was always far more represented in the media than the rewarding home life I enjoyed along with so many others.
The divorce rate may have been 50% in real life but in modern poetry it was 100%.
Domestic tranquility was ridiculed as impossible, dreamlike, or something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. To a literary or media critic, home life was divorce, drinking, and drugs.
Happiness doesn’t sell.
The rat, by Charles Bukowski
with one punch, at the age of 16 and 1/2,
I knocked out my father,
a cruel shiny bastard with bad breath,
and I didn’t go home for some time, only now and then
to try to get a dollar from
it was 1937 in Los Angeles and it was a hell of a
I ran with these older guys
but for them it was the same:
mostly breathing gasps of hard air
and robbing gas stations that didn’t have any
money, and a few lucky among us
worked part-time as Western Union messenger
we slept in rented rooms that weren’t rented
and we drank ale and wine
with the shades down
being quiet quiet
and then awakening the whole building
with a fistfight
breaking mirrors and chairs and lamps
and then running down the stairway
just before the police arrived
some of us soldiers of the future
running through the empty starving streets and alleys of
and all of us
getting together later
in Pete’s room
a small cube of space under a stairway, there we were,
packed in there
without anything to drink,
while the rich pawed away at their many
choices and the young girls let
the same girls who spit at our shadows as we
it was a hell of a
3 of us under that stairway
were killed in World War II.
another one is now manager of a mattress
me? I’m 30 years older,
the town is 4 or 5 times as big
but just as rotten
and the girls still spit on my
shadow, another war is building for another
reason, and I can hardly get a job now
for the same reason I couldn’t then:
I don’t know anything, I can’t do
sex? well, just the old ones knock on my door after
midnight. I can’t sleep and they see the lights and are
the old ones. their husbands no longer want them,
their children are gone, and if they show me enough good
leg (the legs go last)
I go to bed with
so the old women bring me love and I smoke their cigarettes
talk talk talk
and then we go to bed again and
I bring them love
and they feel good and
until the sun comes
up, then we
it’s a hell of a Paris.