Have you seen Barfly, friend? That Hollywood glitzified Bukowski fairy tale from 1987, starring Mickey Rourke before he went totally off the rails? No? Well, you should; it’s pretty silly, but also pretty great, and I’ve embedded it, courtesy of whoever uploaded it to the ever-less-concerned-about-movie-uploads-as-time-goes-on Youtube. Enjoy your Friday.
Look, I’m 49 years old. I know Charles Bukowski was an asshole — a drunk and a bastard and a pig. I don’t even like poetry, and I spent long enough years living the life before I figured out that squalor isn’t romantic, it’s just squalor. I’ve long since grown out of needing to have heroes, and long since learned more than enough about the writerly heroes of my youth to be completely disabused of the notion that they were anything but human. Deeply flawed and weak and broken humans just like rest of us.
Every time Charles Bukowski comes up on the internet, though, at least the internet I hang out in, where people at least know who the fuck he was, comments invariably turn to the phenomenon of the young, dumb, drunk anti-bro who LOVES BUK and WANTS TO BE LIKE HIM because BOOZE UNLEASHES HIS CREATIVE POWER and STUFF. There’s nothing wrong with that, even if it can annoy, though. Most of them will grow out of it once they realize that a) the booze doesn’t make you a poet unless you’re a poet already or b) being a poet doesn’t fix your life when you break it with booze. There are people who dislike things because the… enthusiasm of other people who like those same things can get on their nerves — The Big Lebowski fans being a good example — but I do try not to be one of them.
So, like I said, I’m nearly 50, and I still occasionally read or hear something new-to-me or long-forgotten by old Charlie B that just sends chills coursing down my scarred-up old spine, like this poem I’m about to paste down below.
So, calm your shit down for second. Take a breath. Forget about the latest Twitter timeline top-up or Buzzfeed bullshit product placement. Rest your goddamned internet-shattered mind for a minute, and then just read this like you’re navigating the rock-strewn rapids of a river.