Saturday, April 23, 2011

FEATURE 77 - A Bukowski Poem

Read through some late poems this morning from The Last Night On Earth by Charles Bukowski, written two years before he died in 1994 at the age of 73. Unsurprisingly there's plenty of reflection on the growing immanence of his death, and rather sanguine summaries of a lifetime lived largely on the edge of poverty and success. He kept himself afloat on a stream of sex-drink-gambling-fights -and most of all writing.

Reading this poem - Air and light and time and space - somehow resonated with me, probably because I know I've done what he's describing -waiting for the right time or space to arrive for creativity - which rarely does of course.

Bukowski spent most of his life working long hours in deadbeat jobs, but wrote none the less, mostly by depriving himself of sleep to write through the night. To write he had to make it something he just had to do, in spite of, not because of the circumstances he found himself in. In the past I know I made the incompatibility of my circumstances an excuse for my lack of creative accomplishment - if only I didn't have to work! Impatiently waiting for that right moment of air, light, time or space, to arrive.

According to Bukowski these only arrive if you're prepared to make huge personal sacrifices to obtain them, and that this will greatly inconvenience you, and be discomforting. He'd say any work arrived at without that element of personal sacrifice, will inevitably become a contrived artifice and indulgent, and what's worse would be existentially untruthful.


"-you know,I've either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
but now
I've sold my house, I've found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light
for the first time in my life I'm going to have a place and the time to

no baby, if you're going to create
you're going to create
you're going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you're going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you're on
you're going to create with part of your mind and your
body blown
you're going to create blind
you're going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don't create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

from The Last Night on Earth.
published byECCO

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