Not many poets can write of the emotional labyrinth that our hearts tread on quite like Charles Bukowski. Drunken words dripping with all that’s witty and downright philosophic, well that’s Charles Bukowski for you!
One of the most imitated poet in pop culture, Bukowski’s unique view of the world needs to be witnessed through his relationship with the animals he considered his most profound teachers, cats and dogs.
In his poetry collection, Love is a dog from hell, comes this neat little poem, Dog:
a single dog
walking alone on a hot sidewalk of
appears to have the power
of ten thousand gods.
why is this?
Often ridiculed by some critics as being crude, there’s a gentleness in Bukowski’s crusty words, reserved for his feline and canine friends. Something so puerile that it makes you wonder if Mary Oliver penned it.
In 2007, a collection of Charles Bukowski’s selected poems from 1951-1993 was published, The Pleasures of the Damned. This, along with the complete Calvin & Hobbes were the books I purchased with my first paycheck. It was here that I came across this gem of a poem, White Dog:
I went for a walk on Hollywood Boulevard.
I looked down and there was a large white dog
walking beside me.
his pace was exactly the same as mine,
we stopped at traffic signals together.
a woman smiled at us.
he must have walked 8 blocks with me.
then I went into a grocery store and
when I came out he was gone.
or she was gone.
the wonderful white dog
with a trace of yellow in its fur.
the large blue eyes were gone.
the grinning mouth was gone.
the lolling tongue was gone.
things are so easily lost.
things just can’t be kept forever.
I got the blues.
I got the blues.
that dog loved and
trusted me and
I let it walk away.
Sublime sensibility, isn’t it?
SEE ALSO: White Dog Movie review
Edgy, raw and astoundingly brilliant, the hard living writer knew his prose as he did his cats. In ‘My Cats’, he ruminates over his life long companions.
I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
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
when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
I study these
they are my
They knew you too Hank, these cats and dogs. Like this world never knew love or anything worth knowing.
Here’s to you Chinaski, the one poet this dog can read all his life.