Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Snipppet

It's National Poetry Month in the United States. I try throughout the year to post a few poems on The Pagan Sphinx. And when April rolls around, I kick it up a notch. I'm experimenting with posting poems  (or snippets of) by poets that I'm not familiar with. Previously I've gone with trusted favorites such as Emily Dickinson, Yeats, William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings and Anne Sexton.

The poem for this Sunday is by Charles Bukowski. I've read him in quick spurts in the past. Usually while dusting my bookshelves! It always takes me all day to dust because I pull out a book and start reading. Before I'm aware of it, I've picked up and leafed through a dozen. Reading, dreaming, reminiscing...and sneezing from the dust!

When I went to dust the stacks this time, though, I was missing my one collection of Bukowski so I took myself over to Raven Books in Greenfield (electric kool-aid moment) and browsed the poetry and fiction sections. I came home with Charles Bukowski's Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way and Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

Perhaps in another installment of Sunday Snippet, I will take a passage from the latter. I've been on a Vonnegut kick recently, when I was really never a huge fan of his in the past. I did meet Kurt Vonnegut once and shook his hand but it was so uneventful in terms of actual details, that I won't get into it.  Well, I did get into it. That was it!

And now without further gibber, is the Charles Bukowski poem:

about competition

the higher you climb
     the greater the pressure

those who manage to
                                                                  that the distance
                                                                  between the
                                                                  top and the

                                                                 and those who
                                                                 this secret:
                                                                 there isn't

~Charles Bukowski


  1. That's kind of a sneaky poem. Clever, and true.

  2. I like very much.

    As for dusting after a year o so it doesn't get any worse and only annoys if you try to move it!

  3. I never once figured out how they kept all the books at Powell's clean and nobody would tell me either. At home it takes me ages to dust them too but I have only half as many now.

    I've only ever been a casual fan of poetry. This one is indeed very cool and clever.

  4. There isn't one. I believe that's true.

    Thanks for this.

  5. Yogi - sneaky - yes!

    Jams - speaking of sneaky...dust is...sneaky

    Susan - I have such a difficult time getting rid of books. I can shed a lot of baggage without looking back but books, that is another story!

    As for Bukowski - he's rather plain-spoken, if you will. I think one article I read about him referred to him as the "poet laureate of low-lifes"! I'm not a huge fan of his, yet his style intrigues me. His work appears as a casual viewpoint at first but then grows on you and into you and somehow rings true.

    Sandy and CR - thanks!

  6. I like this. it needed to be written and he does it well. thanks for sharing. and about that dust - it's thick as could be by the time I get around to doing anything about it at my house. I dust perhaps a few times a year...

  7. Becky - I think you have a point about the poem needing to be written. Bukowski strike me as the type of poet who HAD to write, with little regard for popularity or for what his critics thought.

    All serious writers wish to be successful, I think. But what has always distinguished an exceptional writer from a common-place one (in my mind) is that the motive for writing is not usually popularity or money or grandeur. It is a real need to write.

  8. hee hee... «Louis'» variation on the Bukowski quote: "You have to be a little crazy to keep from going nuts!".

  9. Sorry I took so long to get around to resonding to this, Gina!

    I have an ambivalent relationship to Bukowski - sometimes I love him, sometimes he makes me sick. Maybe this reaction is typical for a "dry" alcoholic, who experienced personally some of the huge personal bills alcohol addiction usually presents.

    B.'s cutting cynicism is often very funny - and accurate, as in this poem. But it is often also an ultimately dishonest protective instrument for alcohol junkies, who use it to refuse to face up to a personal sensitivity and vulnerability which is what makes it so difficult for them to face the world sober.

    And I admit to an - in some quarters unfashionable - liking for the film portryal of Bukowski by Mickey Rourke in Barfly.


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