Archives for category: Charles Bukowski

In honor of National Poetry Month, from Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, 2020, the Silver Birch Press BUKOWSKI ANTHOLOGY  is available for FREE in a Kindle version. Find the Kindle version here.

This 272-page collection features poetry and prose about Charles Bukowski as well as portraits of the author by over 75 writers and artists around the world. Contributors include people who knew Bukowski — friends, fellow poets, and people he met along the way — as well as those who feel as if they knew the iconic author.

Cover Art: Mark Erickson and Katy Zartl (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Contributing Editors: Jocelyne Desforges, S.A. Griffin, Suzanne Lummis, David Roskos, Joan Jobe Smith, Eddie Woods

Contributors (in alphabetical order): Christopher R. Adams / Sheril Antonio / RD Armstrong / The Art Warriors (Antonio Gamboa) / David Barker / William Barker / Black Sifichi / Harry Calhoun / David Stephen Calonne / Jared A. Carnie / Neeli Cherkovski/ Kim Cooper / Abel Debritto / Henry Denander / Jocelyne Desforges / Rene Diedrich / John Dorsey / Mark Erickson / Dan Fante / Paul Fericano / Karen Finley / Jack Foley / FrancEyE / Ed Galing / Joan Gannij / Anggo Genorga / Marjorie Gilbert / Jeffrey Graessley / S.A. Griffin / win harms / Donna Hilbert / Rodger Jacobs / Linda King / Harvey Kubernik/ Dana Laina / Lautir (Fabrizio Cassetta) / Suzuki Limbu / Michael Limnios / Gerald Locklin / Suzanne Lummis / Marvin Malone / Adrian Manning / Dean Marais / Germa Marquez / Catfish McDaris / Ann Menebroker / Heather Minette / Austin Mitchell / Richard Modiano / Jon Monday / Jeff Morgan / Paul Nebenzahl / Gerald Nicosia / Michael O’Brien / bart plantenga / David S. Pointer / Alvaro Pozo / D.A. Pratt / Wendy Rainey / Steve Richmond / David Roskos / Russ Runfola / Richard Schave / Raymond King Shurtz / Joan Jobe Smith / Ben Talbot / Mark Terrill / dirk velvet / Melanie Villines / Fred Voss / Scott Wannberg / Vanessa Wilken / A.D. Winans / Bradley Wind / Erik Woltersdorf / Pamela “Cupcakes” Wood / Tim Youd / Katy Zartl


For Bukowski on his 95th Birthday
by Bunkong Tuon

The punch clock rings like a tumor
as he steps into the late afternoon light.
The boarded-up windows hang like terrible
hangovers while plastic bags, soda cans,
cardboard boxes litter the sidewalks.
Mick Jagger screams I Can’t Get No
Satisfaction from someone’s broken window.
Chevrolets parked along broken fences
and graffiti walls. Teenagers watch him
trudge by. Heads down, parents exhausted
from their 9-to-5’s at factories and hospitals.
The little children stop running and screaming,
stare at this man in his sweat-stained shirt,
fascinated momentarily with his acned face,
then return to their hide-and-seek game.
He crosses the street. A car screeches
to a stop. The driver sticks her head out
the window cursing, one hand pressing
the steering wheel, the other holding up
a middle finger. But the man ignores her,
turns a corner, and disappears into a boarding
house. In his one-room apartment he pours
cheap red wine into a dirty glass, turns
on his radio with guts, then sits down
at the desk. A Remington typewriter hums,
purrs, and sings along to Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony. He pushes his index fingers,
one stroke at a time, his breath
measured, heart simmers, home at last.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bunkong Tuon teaches writing and literature in the English Department at Union College, in Schenectady, New York. His recent publications include poems in Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, Más Tequila Review, Misfit, and Patterson Literary Review. Gruel, his first full-length collection (which features other poems about Bukowski), was published recently by NYQ Books.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: On Sunday, August 16, 2015 — Charles Bukowski’s 95th birthday — the San Pedro International Film Festival will host a celebration of the author’s life and writing. For more information, visit

by Charles Bukowski

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so

they complain but never
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
hesitation or

when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my

I study these

they are my

On March 23, 2014, Ea Oerum, a journalist from Copenhagen, Denmark, interviewed Joan Jobe Smith at Charles Bukowski‘s gravesite. Joan did her best to answer Ea’s many young-exuberant, impish-probing questions — but did not want to Tell All, trying to to remain respectful to Buk and his Women. One of the questions: “Why did Buk act that way, get so drunk, be crazy, when he was a genius and had become rich. And why did his Women put up with it?” Joan wondered how to answer accurately without further substantiating the vulgarity, low-life myth that Buk seemed to purposely perpetuate.


About Buk’s gravesite, Joan Jobe Smith noted, “Each time we visit the site, it is decorated with appropriate zeal, bottle caps, cig butts. But this time the decor was especially remarkable. A visitor had adorned Buk’s grave with two pine cones below the tip of a bottle of Cutty Sark protruding from the vase beneath the headstone. When I placed into the vase the bird of paradise, spearmint and Belgian lily from our garden, however, it changed the raison d’etre of the protruberance. So the concept changed considerably but I hope Bukowski didn’t mind.”

ABOVE PHOTO: Poet Fred Voss, Danish journalist Ea Oarum, and poet/author Joan Jobe Smith at Charles Bukowski‘s gravesite in Green Hills Memorial Park (Rancho Palos Verdes, California). Photo by Clint Margrave, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Joan Jobe Smith is the author of Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (& me), available at

by Charles Bukowski

I get on the train on the way to the track
it’s down near Dago
and this gives some space and rolling and
I have my pint
and I walk to the barcar for a couple of
and I weave upon the floor–
and some of it comes back
a little of it comes back
like some green in a leaf after a long

and the sun crashes into the barcar like a
bull and the bartender sees that
I am feeling good
he smiles a real smile and
“How’s it going?”

how’s it going? my heels are down
my shoes cracked
I am wearing my father’s pants and he died
ten years ago
I need 8 teeth pulled
my intestine has a partial blockage
I puff on a dime cigar

“Great!” I answer him,
“how you making?”

glory glory glory and the train rolls on
past the sea
past the sand and
down in between the

SOURCE: “On the Train to Del Mar” appears in Charles Bukowski‘s collection The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (Black Sparrow Press, (1969), available at

IMAGE: “Amtrak Surfliner” by Traci Lehman. Prints available at

the railroad yard
by Charles Bukowski

the feelings I get
driving past the railroad yard
(never on purpose but on my way to somewhere)
are the feelings other men have for other things.
I see the tracks and all the boxcars
the tank cars the flat cars
all of them motionless and so many of the
perfectly lined up and not an engine anywhere
(where are all the engines?).
I drive past looking sideways at it all
a wide, still railroad yard
not a human in sight
then I am past the yard
and it wasn’t just the romance of it all
that gives me what I get
but something back there nameless
always making me feel better
as some men feel better looking at the open sea
or the mountains or at wild animals
or at a woman
I like those things too
especially the wild animals and the woman
but when I see those lovely old boxcars
with their faded painted lettering
and those flat cars and those fat round tankers
all lined up and waiting
I get quiet inside
I get what other men get from other things
I just feel better and it’s good to feel better
whenever you can
not needing a reason.

SOURCE: “the railroad yard” appears in Charles Bukowski‘s collection what matters most is how well you walk through the fire (Ecco, 1999), available at

PHOTO: Mission Junction railroad yard, downtown Los Angeles.


what will the neighbors think? (excerpt) by Charles Bukowski

I think that was the question asked most of me
by my parents.
of course, I didn’t really care what the
neighbors thought.
I felt sorry for the neighbors, those frightened
people peeking from behind their
the whole neighborhood was watching
and in the 1930s there wasn’t much else to
except me coming in drunk late at

“this is going to kill your mother,”
my father told me,
“and besides what will the
neighbors think?”

me, I thought I was doing very well.
one way or the other
I managed to get drunk
without having any
money at all.
a trick that would stand me in good
later in my life.

to make things worse for my poor
I began to write letters to the
editor of one of the large
most of which were published
and all of which
backed unpopular causes.

“what will the neighbors think?”
my parents asked

SOURCE: Read “what will the neighbors think?” in its entirety in Charles Bukowski’s collection Bone Palace Ballet (Ecco, 2001), available at

PHOTO: Charles Bukowski with his parents, late 1930s.


Joan Jobe Smith, author of Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& Me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012) is featured in the Charles Bukowski Society‘s yearbook covering 2011, 2012, and 2013 with a story entitled “Beer Can in a Garden.”

Consisting of a section in German and a section in English, the yearbook is dedicated to Bukowski’s German translator and friend Carl Weissner and includes two interviews with Weissner (one in each language section) as well as a short memoir about him by Linda Bukowski.

To purchase a copy of Charles Bukowski Society’s 2011/12/13 yearbook, visit

To learn more about the Charles Bukowski Society, visit


Charles Bukowski: Up Close and Personal, a popup exhibition of nine portraits by Joan Gannij will be on display at the American Book Center Treehouse Gallery on Thursday, March 13 & 20, 2014, from 6-9 p.m., and during the weekend of March 22 & 23 from 1-5 pm.

These oversized portraits of Charles Bukowski (118cm x 84cm — approximately 4 x 3′) on museum quality paper in a limited edition will be available for sale after the exhibition. For further information, contact

PHOTO CREDIT: “Joan Gannij with her Bukowski images” by Thom van der Heijden

by Charles Bukowski

oh, forgive me For Whom the Bell Tolls,
oh, forgive me Man who walked on water,
oh, forgive me little old woman who lived in a shoe,
oh, forgive me the mountain that roared at midnight,
oh, forgive me the dumb sounds of night and day and death,
oh, forgive me the death of the last beautiful panther,
oh, forgive me all the sunken ships and defeated armies,
this is my first FAX POEM.
It’s too late:
I have been


“On February 18, 1994, Hank had a fax machine installed at his home. He sent me his first fax message in the form of that poem. I’m sure he visualized sending me his future letters and poems via fax, but sadly 18 days later he was gone. I ran off nine photocopies of the fax, for a total of ten, and numbered and initialed them. Over the next few months and years I gave copies to individuals who were Bukowski collectors and regular customers of Black Sparrow. I think I gave away the last one more than 10 years ago. That poem has never been published (except as described here) and the poem has never been collected in a book.”

JOHN MARTIN, Black Sparrow Press

IMAGE:  Whitmore Rare Books.