“There’s too much bad poetry being written today. People just don’t know how to write down a simple easy line. It’s difficult for them: it’s like trying to keep a hard-on while drowning – not many can do it. Bad poetry is caused by people who sit down and think, Now I am going to write a Poem. And it comes out the way they think a poem should be.” —New York Quarterly interview, 1985
“Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, at the age of 73 and is buried in Green Hills Memorial Park, Palos Verdes, California. His epitaph? ‘Don’t Try.'” —Drinking With Bukowski: Recollections of the Poet Laureate of Skid Row, edited by Daniel Weizmann, 2000, Thunder’s Mouth Press
When I was 13 I decided to jump a freight train
after running away from home. I watched
my father shout my name leaning out the front
door, a letter crumpled in his dangling hand.
A letter of adieu, in dramatic cursive, my vengeful
farewell. Exeunt, stomping feet.
Ink bruised my palm from all that sweaty rewriting,
whittling those words to needle point, to cut deep.
I watched the sprinkler on our manicured lawn.
Watched the clockwork of grass growing, the grownups
staring from the porch like sailors on a deck.
But the Ocean was too far.
There were no train lines to jump, no roads to Kerouac.
No-one trusts hitchhikers anymore.
Bukowski lied. He never even saw
the inside of a boxcar.
I stole food from my own kitchen, clean socks
from my own bedroom, and slept in the shed
with all the power tools and wood chips.
Father knew the whole time, he told me, years later,
with a gruff chuckle. Thought it was best
I ride this out.