For Charles Bukowski

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 toched 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 -

by gordon coombes

Comments (1)

I really didn't care for his poetry when I finally read it, but there are many who do. Your tribute to him is a well conceived and thought out poem. It flows smoothly to its conclusion and contains some solid powerful imagery. very well done.