Staff Picks: 4 Favourite Bukowski Poems

• Nov 30, 2016 • Tags: ,

To celebrate this month’s release of Essential Bukowski: Poetry by Charles Bukowski, we’ve rounded up the gang to share their favourite lyrics from this compact yet comprehensive collection. Some of us are first time Bukowski readers, some are longtime devotees. Wherever you are in your Bukowski journey, these four poems will ease you in (or shock you to the core) to the brilliance of a Los Angelino legend.


Bukowski was pretty spot on with this one until the 2016 US election, when the face suddenly became bright orange and leering. Can we go back to the good old days? — Tara

face of a political candidate on a street billboard

there he is:
not too many hangovers
not too many fights with women
not too many flat tires
never a thought of suicide
not more than three toothaches
never missed a meal
never in jail
never in love
4 pairs of shoes
a son in college
a car one year old
insurance policies
a very green lawn
garbage cans with tight lids
he’ll be elected.


A passionate rallying cry for the poet and his art, ‘beans with garlic’ celebrates the elevated and the everyday – and man’s endeavour, however foolhardy, to capture both on the page.  — Sarah

beans with garlic

this is important enough:
to get your feelings down,
it is better than shaving
or cooking beans with garlic.
it is the little we can do
this small bravery of knowledge
and there is of course
madness and terror too
in knowing
that some part of you
wound up like a clock
can never be wound again
once it stops.
but now
there’s a ticking under your shirt
and you whirl the beans with a spoon,
one love dead, one love departed
another love . . .
ah! as many loves as beans
yes, count them now
sad, sad
your feelings boiling over flame,
get this down.


I love the contrasts of it – it has both simplicity and depth, it’s wistful but wry, beautiful but profoundly real.  — Lottie

destroying beauty

a rose
red sunlight;
I take it apart
in the garage
like a puzzle:
the petals are as greasy
as old bacon
and fall
like the maidens of the world
backs to floor
and I look up
at the old calendar
hung from a nail
and touch
my wrinkled face
and smile
the secret
is beyond me.


And for our fourth and final selection (featuring a smattering of feline photography), kindly direct your attention here.


Essential Bukowski: Poetry by Charles Bukowski, Edited by Abel DebrittoEssential Bukowski: Poetry, edited by Abel Debritto, is a new collection of 92 poems from Charles Bukowski’s both published and unpublished work.


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