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The Last Night of the Earth Poems

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The final poetry collection published in Bukowski's lifetime, The Last Night of the Earth Poems explores writing, death, immortality, city life, war, and the past.

408 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1992

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About the author

Charles Bukowski

768 books27k followers
Henry Charles Bukowski (born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books

Charles Bukowski was the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways.

Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (1994), Screams from the Balcony (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992).

He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
960 reviews6,799 followers
April 23, 2015
I am exactly what I am supposed to be.

This is likely my favorite collection by Charles Bukowski. A man made famous for his vulgarity and debauchery—though to cling to such things misses the point and heart of his poetry—The Last Night of the Earth Poems removes the caustic armor and lets the tender heart beat out prose without fear, without need for deflection. While it is often the boozing and whoring and bitterness of Bukowski that is spoken of, particularly in college dorms, I've always felt that his abrasive nature was a mask for a fragile soul wincing away from pain, that there was something beautiful and passionate lurking beneath the gutters. Last Night was Bukowski's final collection written while alive and his awareness of inevitable demise creeps into the pages and allows him to speak more freely and passionately than ever before. A fitting collection to be revisiting as I sit silently with my beer, awaiting the next family funeral, awaiting the sharp daggers of held-back tears and gut-clenching awareness of mortality while a man I love and respect breaths through a tube in a nearby hospital with mere days left. Poetry keeps us eternal, keeps our conquests and regrets, our loves and shames alive and on display for all to learn from and imbibe like a fine wine to satisfy the soul and abate our nerves through the knowledge that we all share the same fate and fears and pains. The Last Night of the Earth is a splendid array of all things Bukowski, from his bitter wit to his most impassioned confessions, and is certainly a collection any fan should have at their fingertips.

waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the

I am so very sorry for
my wife

she will see this
shake it once, then


Hank won’t

it’s not my death that
worries me, it’s my wife
left with this
pile of

I want to
let her know
that all the nights
beside her

even the useless
were things
ever splendid

and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be

I love

This collection is nearly painful to read at times. Bukowski offers a reflection on his life that is often funny, bitter and, in this collection, very heartbreaking. The ever-famous Bukowski poem Bluebird is found here (I've never felt much for this poem and wonder about its fame, it feels so detached from his typical style and reminds me of some of his extreme early works that I also didn't care much for as they felt as if he was overtly playing too much at 'being poetic' than simply letting the poetry flow freely as he argues for in many of his fine poems about the art of being a poet), as well as the awe-inspiring Dinosauria, We (you can listen to Bukowski read that poem himself here) and many others. There are angry tirades against false poets, hostile statements towards humanity, yet always a tenderness lurking beneath that reminds us of the importance of being good to one another, of appreciating the life we have, or keeping true to ourselves and striving towards our wildest dreams lest we become another fake and phony that Bukowski so detested. Let yourself be stricken with poverty and debauchery, he would say, as long as it was who you are and you stayed true to yourself. There are powerful statements of the ways literature can move us, memories of being driven to the heights of excitement and passion from Knut Hamsun's Hunger or Huxley's Point Counter Point, the pride in betraying his parents wishes and joining the obscene masses of writers (a absolutely fantastic account of this is found in Them and Us). There are humorous poems on feeling out of touch with the forward-moving world such as in Hemingway Never Did This which recounts accidentally deleting a poem from his computer, or the regret that fame came too late in life to make much use of it as in Creative Writing Class . More heartbreaking is his awareness of death and his testimonies to the agonies of old age. 'young or old, good or bad, I don't think anything dies as slow and as hard as a writer,' wrote Bukowski. It truly hurts to read a tired and dying Bukoswki, but it fills the heart to the point of beautiful overflow.

Are You Drinking?
washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook
out again
I write from the bed
as I did last
will see the doctor,
"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-
aches and my back
"are you drinking?" he will ask.
"are you getting your
exercise, your
I think that I am just ill
with life, the same stale yet
even at the track
I watch the horses run by
and it seems
I leave early after buying tickets on the
remaining races.
"taking off?" asks the motel
"yes, it's boring,"
I tell him.
"If you think it's boring
out there," he tells me, "you oughta be
back here."
so here I am
propped up against my pillows
just an old guy
just an old writer
with a yellow
something is
walking across the
oh, it's just
my cat

The Last Night of the Earth Poems is a perfect Bukowski collection that contains all the joys from his range of poetry but keeps to the most heartfelt of messages. While it isn't an ideal introduction to his work, it is certainly a necessity for anyone who holds any love for the man in their heart. Painful as it may be, this is truly brilliant and a perfect examination of a life as it was lived.

'So this is the beginning / not the / end.'

Dinosauria, We
Born like this
Into this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
By this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The gun
The knife
The bomb
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
The pill
The powder
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante's Inferno will be made to look like a children's playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews37 followers
August 26, 2020
The Last Night of the Earth Poems, Charles Bukowski

Poems deal with writing, death and immortality, literature, city life, illness, war, and the past. Each poem is like a mini story.

عنوانها: «پیش به سوی قرن بیست و یک»«؛ از چند قدمی یک تیمارستان»؛ «ما دایناسورها»؛ نویسنده و شاعر: چارلز بوکفسکی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه سپتامبر سال 2019میلادی

عنوان: پیش به سوی قرن بیست و یک؛ نویسنده: چارلز بوکفسکی؛ مترجمان علی خادمی، فاطمه درخشانی؛ تهران مانیا هنر‏‫، ‏‫1396؛ در 86ص؛ شابک: 9786009803989؛ موضوع شعرهای داستانی از نویسندگان آلمانی تبار آمریکایی - سده 20م

عنوان: از چند قدمی یک تیمارستان؛ نویسنده و شاعر: چارلز بوکفسکی؛ مترجم: سپیده خداکرمی؛ تهران مانیا ه��ر‏‫، 1396؛ در 158ص؛ شابک 9786008975120؛

عنوان: ما دایناسورها؛ نویسنده: چارلز بوکوفسکی؛ مترجمان علی خادمی، سیدرشاد موسوی‌زاده؛ تهران مانیا هنر‏‫، 1398؛ در 150 ص؛ شابک 9786008975540؛

بوکفسکی در این اثر درباره ی چیزها و رویدادهای روزمره، و به ظاهر به اهمیتی، که همه ی ما وجودشان را چندان مغتنم و باارزش به حساب نمیآوریم، چیزهایی همچون: «مریض شدن»، «دریافت نامه ای از یک دوست» و یا «نشستن پشت کامپیوتر» مینویسند؛ اشعار این مجموعه که رگه های خودزندگی نامه ای فراوانی دارند، همانند داستان کوتاهی جذاب روایت میشوند؛ در این کتاب به راحتی میتوان هنر و توانایی «بوکفسکی» در سخن گفتن از سادگیهای زندگی و جلب توجه خوانشگران به آنها را مشاهده کرد؛ کتاب «پیش به سوی قرن بیست و یک»، از آن دست آثاری است که میتواند تعداد طرفداران این نویسنده و شاعر بزرگ آلمانی تبار آمریکایی را بالاتر ببرد.؛

نقل دو نمونه از متن: «همیشه از ما خواسته اند که / به عقاید دیگران احترام بگذاریم / هر چقدر هم که قدیمی/ مسخره و / احمقانه باشد. / از من میخواهند / عقایدم را برای خودم نگه دارم / تا مبادا وحشت کنند. / سن و سال که جنایت نیست / اما افسوس واقعی / زندگی هدر رفته است / و چقدر زندگیها / که هدر رفته است.»؛ «هیچ چیز بدتر از زل زدن / به همون ماشین جلویی / و همون راننده که پرچ شده به صندلی نیست / و همچنان زمان آب میرفت / و همچنان دماسنج کاملا چرخیده بود به راست / و همچنان درجه گاز چسبیده بود به چپ / و همچنان مبهوت بودیم بوی کلاژ از ماشین کیه / مثل دایناسورهای در حال انقراض شده بودیم / همین طور عاجزانه میخزیدیم ؛ شاید تا مرگ»؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews532 followers
July 1, 2016
The bluebird

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night some times
when everybody’s asleep.
I say I know that you’re there,
so don’t be

then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and its nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Happy Canada Day goodreaders!
Profile Image for Nikoline.
106 reviews387 followers
July 26, 2015
The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski is without doubt one of the best modern poetry books I have ever read in twenty years of existing. His way with words is very complicated to get around, but once the reader breaks his many linguistic codes, the reader enters a world of... I am not even sure how to describe it.

Bukowski's understanding of the world, is rather rare yet both dark and poetic in a way very few can handle the way he does it. He manage to describe feelings, rather complicated by comparing them to something very simple, something most people can somehow relate to. He also manage to turn a situation most people would find disturbing completely upside down, which is illustrated in his poem the man with beautiful eyes.

when we were kids
there was a strange house
all the shades were
and we never heard voices
in there
and the yard was full of
and we liked to play in
the bamboo
pretend we were
(although there was no
and there was a
fish pond
a large one
full of the
fattest goldfish
you ever saw
and they were
they came to the
surface of the water
and took pieces of
from our hands.
Our parents had
told us:
“never go near that
so, of course,
we went.
we wondered if anybody
liveed there.
weeks went by and we
never saw
then one day
we heard
a voice
from the house
it was a man’s
then the screen
of the house was
flung open
and the man
he was holding a
fifth of whiskey
in his right
he was about
he had a cigar
in his
needed a shave.
his hair was
wild and
and uncombed
and he was
in undershirt
and pants.
but his eyes
they blazed
and he said,
“hey, little
having a good
time, I
then he gave a
little laugh
and walked
back into the
we left,
went back to my
parents’ yard
and thought
about it.
our parents,
we decided,
had wanted us
to stay away
from there
because they
never wanted us
to see a man
a strong natural
our parents
were ashamed
that they were
like that
that’s why they
wanted us
to stay
we went back
to that house
and the bamboo
and the tame
we went back
many times
for many weeks
but we never
or heard
the man
the shades were
as always
and it was
then one day
as we came back from
we saw the
it had burned
there was nothing
just a smouldering
twisted black
and we went to
the fish pond
and there was
no water
in it
and the fat
orange goldfish
were dead
drying out.
we went back to
my parents’ yard
and talked about
and decided that
our parents had
burned their
house down,
had killed
had killed the
because it was
all too
even the bamboo
forest had
they had been
afraid of
the man with the
we were afraid
all throughout our lives
things like that
that nobody
to be
strong and
like that,
others would never
allow it,
and that
many people
would have to

Normally, most people would have found the drunk man disturbing and very much unappealing, but the way Bukowski writes and makes life clear turns the entire experience up side down. I can only recommend his works, especially this one, The Last Night of the Earth Poems, to everyone who has the slightest interest in poetry, modern literature or simply Bukowski. If you have not read any of this work, this would be a significant place to start.
Profile Image for Madeleine.
Author 2 books867 followers
May 23, 2009
I knew from the very first page that Charles Bukowski is what I've spent my entire life looking for in a poet. His slice-of-life poems, be they three lines or three pages, are so raw, so simple yet so significant, that they're so perfectly representational of the embittered writer who has both no patience for bullshit and miles upon miles of talent.

The word choice, construction and basic subject matter (usually a fleeting moment from Bukowski's life that would have been rendered trite and self-aggrandizing in any other hands) make for an in-your-face trifecta of thoroughly addicting observations. Reading these poems is like listening to the slightly off-kilter but mostly harmless older guy next door rattle off some of the most beautiful vignettes, proving that even the most hopeless scenario at least can be seen in an aesthetically brilliant light. The rawness of his language, the baseness of the subject, the stark and mincing perspective, and the lines that are so damn clever they make your breath hitch in your throat come together for simply, profoundly affecting compositions.

Drawing from his own life gives Bukowski's poems a sense of existing in a specific place and interacting with the world on its own playing field, as opposed to being poetry that's simply passively enjoyed for a grade. There's something undeniably visceral about Bukowski's poems, and I think it comes largely from the fact that the recurring elements in his pieces are the recurring elements of his life. Something that has an entire poem devoted to it -- Bukowski's past landladies, foppish intellectuals, his cats, gambling -- gets only a few lines in a poem focusing on a broader scope, which just lends this sense of getting it and being there that just makes this collection of poems so tangible.

And I just really like how his poems start off and give a slight indication of where they're going, only to end up way out in left field. You know, just like life.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,887 reviews1,412 followers
August 27, 2014
Le Tigre had a great song titled Mediocrity Rules. A poet loaned me this book. I don't think he liked Bikini Kill. Sometimes I think about Bono and Sean Penn calling Bukowski and I die a little inside. For a number of reasons.
Profile Image for India.
Author 11 books123 followers
January 10, 2018
First time reading a book of Bukowski's poetry cover to cover and I absolutely loved it.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
793 reviews19 followers
September 7, 2011
Unless I remember incorrectly, this was the final book Bukowski published before he passed away. I was very interested in getting my hands in it, in the hopes that something extra would be revealed. Silly, now that I have read the book. The poems were much like his past poems. The topics were mostly the same, though certain trends (his father, remembering his early years, former landladies, bars, classical music, and observations of the everyday and struggling human) were evident more than I have so far noticed in his previous collections. This was not my favorite collection. It might be my least favorite but even considering, it is still better than most anything else I have read, poetry wise, and I loved every single poem in this collection. More were memorable than others, which is the only reason why I rate Bukowski's collections less than 5 stars. Less than half were truly memorable. Drop a star then.

Reading his poetry is like coming home to an empty house, yet with the fire already roaring and a hot tottie waiting on the counter. I find great comfort in Bukowski's words. I like knowing that there was someone more cynical than myself. All the better for that someone to be able to express it clearly. I feel that Bukowski was able to cut through all of the shit in the world and really see the bottom of the bucket though, not all of the poems in this collection were critical and unforgiving.

Some notes on the poems...dinner, 1933 was about how Bukowski's father would eat, slurping and wallowing in his food, and it was disturbing to read. I have an aversion to loud eaters myself so the poem was extra icky. the bully, another involving his father, was satisfying in a vengeful sort of way.

flophouse was depressing and hopeless.

Only Bukowski would consider that telling his wife he loved her as something of a confession, in the poem of the same name. Most people consider love a given, or at least are comfortable enough to say it on occasion.

From Ill, I feast on solitude. I will never miss the crowd and from (crap, can't find the title of the poem) I am my brother's keeper. I keep him away sum up beautifully why I can connect with this author. I feel the same most days.

The insults and stabs seemed better than normal...bunny droppings, ratfucker, piss-biting shrews...

Some of the poems were about other authors who Bukowski respected or at least could relate to somehow. the word, about where he was when he first read each of his favorite authors, was beautifully nostalgic and them and us darkly humorous.

I quite liked show biz, about learning how to be grateful for the little things each day, and they are everywhere, which is omly further proof that Bukowski understood people and how the world really works.

they are everywhere

the tragedy-sniffers are all
they get up in the morning
and begin to find things
and they fling themselves
into a rage about
a rage that lasts until
where even there
they twist in their
not able to rid their
of the petty obstacles
they have

they feel set against,
it's a plot.
and by being constantly
angry they feel that
they are constantly

you see them in traffic
honking wildly
at the slightest
spewing their

you feel them
in lines
at banks
at supermarkets
at movies,
they are pressing
at your back
walking on your
they are impatient to
a fury.

they are everywhere
and into
these violently

actually they are
never wanting to be
they lash out
it is a malady
an illness of

the first one
I saw like that
was my

and since then
I have seen a
ten thousand
wasting their lives
in hatred,
tossing their lives
into the
Profile Image for Asma Akhi.
195 reviews401 followers
April 28, 2017
‘‘there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I am too tough for him.
I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

His best poem, definitely.
Profile Image for Thom.
3 reviews
March 14, 2010
This was the first of Bukowski's works I encountered.

I was skipping English class to read in the library about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I had loaded my arms with books about them and their relationship and while I walked back to the area I was sitting, I shot out my hand randomly and picked a book from the shelves. Not knowing what it was, what it was named, who wrote it, just for the hell of it. As soon as I sat down I opened to the first page and began reading the first poem. It was magic. The ease of the words, such flow, such poignance. I was in love. After finishing the first poem, I flipped the book over and began reading from the back toward the front. I finished the entire book there and found myself a new, wonderful writer to read. Screw Hemingway and Fitzgerald!

The Last Night of the Earth Poems was written in his later life, when Bukowski began to concentrate on poetry rather than stories. As with all his end-work, he focuses on memories, the word, literature, and what it means to be a writer; the transition to old age and success, and the fate of death. Most Bukowski fans, I assume, will love the earlier stuff. The crazy stuff. The stuff they can relate to. But I've always been an old man at heart. The Last Night of the Earth Poems is my favorite, not only of Bukowski's, but of all time.
Profile Image for Ozan.
126 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2021
Bukowski denince aklıma gelen şiirlerden birkaçı bu kitapta yer alıyor. Ara sıra karıştırıp okuduğum kitaplardan birisi.

hava, ışık, zaman ve ferahlık
hayır yavrum, yaratacağın varsa
bir maden ocağında günde 16 saat
çalışırken de yaratırsın
ya da
üç çocukla küçük bir odada
işsizlik yardımı ile
vücudun ve beynin
kısmen parçalanmışken bile
kent depremle, bombardımanla, selle,
yangınla boğuşurken sırtına bir
kedi tırmanır ve sen




çok fazla



hayal kırıklığı



şiir yazmak



Profile Image for Blaine Engeland.
7 reviews7 followers
February 14, 2011
I love owning this book. It has stains on the cover, tears and creases on every other page. It has served as a plate, a hard surface to roll cigs, a surface to write on, and a coaster. More importantly it's main function, obviously, is for it to be read, and that it truly has. It sits on my coffee table all welcoming. Everyone who has ever sat down on my couch has picked it up and paged through it and found themselves a poem that they will carry with them forever. Some of the words make you die laughing..some make you sad..some make you quiet, and some make you want to just say f*#k it!
May 10, 2022
2.5 stars. I didn’t particularly enjoy this book—I found the poems didn’t feel like poetry at all, rather gross and crude stories from Bukowski’s past. However, every now and then there would be a phrase that I found beautiful or resonated with deeply (these have all been highlighted and posted.) I can’t decide if they made the rest of the book worthwhile or not.
Profile Image for Eve Kay.
885 reviews32 followers
November 30, 2018
These are some pretty excellent poems and stories of Bukowski's life.


days like razors, nights full of rats
in and out of the dark
let me tell you
blasted apart with the first breath
my buddy in valet parking at the racetrack
show biz
off and on
we ain't got no money, honey, but we got rain
inactive volcano
my uncle Jack
the area of pause
Profile Image for Sorin Hadârcă.
Author 3 books219 followers
September 14, 2018
Prose-like, not deep, effectively hitting reality, lacking finesse and equally lacking pretense (that’s good!), great rhythm, uncovering a spot you had no idea it existed before. In other words, some of his finest poems are right here. Touché.
Profile Image for Blair Roberts.
172 reviews1 follower
May 20, 2023
• "humanity
you sick

• "we build our

• "a spark can set a whole forest on
just a spark."

• "people are strange: they are constantly angered by
trivial things,
but on major matters
totally wasting their lives,
they hardly seem to

• "you don't have to go to the movies
to see a horror

• "not writing is not good
but trying to write
when you can't is

• "death is nothing, brother,
it's life that's

• “the shortest distance between
2 points is

• “the perfect place to be
in the rain
is in the rain”

• “the nature of the dream is
best interpreted by the

• “wood is frozen

• “although looked down upon,
the idiots seemed to have the
more peaceful lives: nothing was expected of

• “I was fairly poor
but most of my money went
for wine and
classical music.
I loved to mix the two
Profile Image for Andy Weston.
2,497 reviews153 followers
August 25, 2022
Reading Bukowski is like no other reading experience.

I don’t think there’s much difference between his prose and his poetry.
I’ve read several reviewers say they prefer his poetry, and I can see why, it enables him to put a particular stress on a certain phrase. There’s a feeling also that he is talking directly to you, the writing is so personal at times.

This was his last book of poetry to be published in his lifetime, and certainly there is the impression that he wants to set the record straight on a few matters. Of course there’s the wit and cynicism that epitomise him, and the recurring themes of drinking, writing, womanising, and unsuccessful employment, but death is frequently mentioned or insulated at.

Though Bob Dylan has said he has no admiration for Bukowski, ‘a fat old bore’ he called him, there are plenty of lines here that could have come from either of them.

There’s a lot in this book. I’ve had it next to the bed for a few months now, diving into it for half hours at a time, and noting any memorable lines. Here’s a few..

You know: I’m drunk once again here listening to Tchaikovsky on the radio. Jesus, I heard him 47 years ago when I was a starving writer and here he is again, and now I am a minor success as a writer and death is walking up and down this room smoking my cigars, taking hits of my wine, as Tchaik is working away at the Pathétique, it’s been some journey and any luck I’ve had was because I rolled the dice right.

I often carry things to read so that I will not have to look at the people.

.. as a very young man I divided an equal amount of time between the bars and the libraries; how I managed to provide for my other ordinary needs is the puzzle; well, I simply didn’t bother too much with that— if I had a book or a drink then I didn’t think too much of other things—fools create their own paradise.

..well, death says, as he walks by, I’m going to get you anyhow no matter what you’ve been: writer, cab-driver, pimp, butcher, sky-diver, I’m going to get you…

I can identify with Bukowski on this..

I have never welcomed the ring of a

“hello,” I will answer

“this is Dwight.”

already you can feel their imbecile
yearning to invade.

“yes, what is it?”
“well, I’m in town tonight and I thought…”

“listen Dwight, I’m tied up, I can’t…”

“well, maybe another time?”

“maybe not…”
(The Telephone)
Profile Image for Morgoth Jr.
42 reviews
September 25, 2018
I love poetry, but most of it is awful.

Bukowski is a sorry bastard, of the sort who has only two friends: Jack Kerouac and Jack, Bottle of.
His world is crude and gritty and cruel.

Of the whole 400 pages, I found a whole six stanzas that were any good.
Yet, I read 400 pages of it.
And somehow, I don't regret it.

While I dislike Bukowski, the person - or the person who he comes off as, whose life has no light because he is more comfortable angsting in the darkness - it's the pain of the True Writer, you see - I could taste his world as surely as he could taste his cheap liquor and cigarette smoke.
If that's a recommendation to you, take it as one.
If it isn't, then let it lie.

If anyone is familiar with the twitter Guy in Your MFA, this is him, in the flesh.
Profile Image for Brandon.
Author 9 books19 followers
January 1, 2010
Superior book of poems, although the fat could've been trimmed. "Dinner, 1933" made me laugh out loud, while "The Aliens" exhibited Bukowski's awareness of class issues. Also in this book are the Bukowski classics "We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain" and the powerful "Dinosauria, We." I have a long list of favorites from this collection: "The Man with Beautiful Eyes," "The Lady and the Mountain Lion," "Hold On, It's a Belly Laugh," "8 Count," "The Soldier, His Wife and the Bum," "Bonaparte's Retreat," "My Uncle Jack," and the last page of "Transport."

Profile Image for Paul.
32 reviews
August 5, 2012
Damn it, Bukowski. Why did you go off and die on us when we need you the most in days like these?

This is a brilliant work... So much better than the academic trash being published today.

How I wish you were here.
Profile Image for Jon Ureña.
Author 3 books94 followers
September 13, 2022
Three and a half stars.

A collection of poems from when Bukowski was an old man, and I'm talking up to his deathbed; he died of leukemia. Long gone are the grueling jobs to which he showed up hungover and that he tolerated by drinking the hours away. Long gone are the days when he returned late from work to find his apartment in a ruinous state and his seemingly interchangeable girlfriend of the day drunk and ranting. Old man Bukowski spent his last couple of decades living in peace with a probably very accommodating wife.

In a couple of poems he mentions that he's ashamed of all the whoring and mayhem he indulged in up to his forties; he now feels like he had been controlled by an overwhelming force that even convinced him that he was in control, and that if he had known better, instead of searching for his next alcoholic girlfriend he would have spent far more time sleeping.

Some of the included poems are made of still images from Bukowski's past as if they came randomly to his mind (you'll recognize plenty of those moments if you've read his other books). Some recall how much of a fucking bastard his father was: he beat him and his wife regularly, and spent his days unreasonably angry. Some are related to how much dealing with fans and fan-adjacent people annoyed him. One mentions the gentle molestation that he suffered at the hands of a pretty female teacher of his, if "suffered" can be used given that he remarks enjoying the hardest hard-ons of any eleven-year-old kid in LA at the time. Another poem mentions that he acted like a drooling retard at school, because that way he hoped that people would leave him the fuck alone. Some despair at the state of the world and the increasingly ruinous society he found himself living in compared to how it used to be even during the Great Depression. Other poems thank the act of writing in itself for having allowed him to escape a life that felt like an unending nightmare.

Bukowski dreaded the possibility that any random person could approach him because they had read his books, and I can't blame him: nothing anyone can say about the art you produce could approach what it means to you, and to an extent, it even devalues and banalizes it. But it went beyond that: some fans brought their entire damn families ("even the aunt") to Bukowski's house to introduce themselves, and later on he found out, thanks to the manuscripts he received in the mail, that those fans were aspiring writers that wanted help getting in the industry through him. Some of the fans seemed to believe that his alcoholic past (and to a much lesser extent, present) was part of a cool guy persona that Bukowski was trying to cultivate, instead of his escape from an unbearable reality. A wannabe journalist harassed him in the streets and figured out his landline number to sign him on to an obnoxious project ("I interview you and you interview me"). It all sounded infuriating.

As Charles (or Hank Chinaski, as he preferred to call himself; I'm guessing he hated being associated to his father's last name) goes on at length in my favorite book of his, Ham on Rye, even as a child he wanted to sign off from the horrifying world he had found himself in ("I felt like sleeping for five years but they wouldn't let me"). Only when he discovered great books, and therefore people he could respect, he found the solace he needed to endure for a bit longer. Once he figured out what writing could provide for him, he found the way to endure until the natural end of his journey.

Bukowski kept it real to the end; that's a big part of why I'm usually up for reading his stuff even though I DNF most of the other books I come across. He didn't write because he wanted to be famous, to make money, or to impress people; he wrote because it saved his life.

The most memorable moment for me in this collection of poems was one of the most memorable for Bukowski: he recalled a day back at his parents' when his father must have run his mouth at someone stronger than his teenage son or his wife. Bukowski's father was seated at the toilet, and his face was disfigured from the beating he had received. Bukowski stood at the doorway and merely stared at the son of a bitch who had fathered him. His father yelled at him something like, "What the hell are you looking at?!" Bukowski kept staring. A few seconds later, he walked away. Bukowski adds that three years after that moment, when he was sixteen, he knocked his father to the ground with a single punch. That same day he moved out, or became a drifter anyway. The moment was depicted in his novel Factotum.

Here are some fragments I highlighted (they were in poem format, but whatever):

We stop at a signal. I watch the red light. I could eat that red light--anything, anything at all to fill the void. Millions of dollars spent to create something more terrible than the actual lives of most living things; one should never have to pay an admission to hell.

[Writing] has saved my ass from the worst of women and the worst of men and the worst of jobs, it has mellowed my nightmares into a gentle sanity, it has loved me at my lowest and it has made me seem to be a greater soul than I ever was.

Young or old, good or bad, I don't think anything dies as slow and as hard as a writer.
Profile Image for Documentally.
82 reviews73 followers
January 10, 2016
The last book of poetry to be published during Bukowski's lifetime, I enjoyed it immensely.

This was a spontaneous purchase when I didn't really need to be carrying around a chunky paperback.
And yet once I started I didn't want to get to the last page. I made it last. Only reading it when I had a drink in my hand.

You get the feeling that he's tying up loose ends. Saying the things he always wanted to say.

It flashes back to his younger years and then brings you back to his last.

You certainly feel a connection to the author as at times it's as if he is writing to you and you alone.

The seedy motels, the booze, women and self loathing. Occasionally laced with a light humour and sarcasm that brings you deeper into the moment.

And on every page, it's the appreciation of the moment he both cherishes and inspires.

More than once I stopped mid passage so I could read it again.
And again.

the music seeps through his
centuries bend and
unwind as the invisible dog
of darkness
walks by
in a half circle
behind him,
then blends into

This will be something I reach for when all other writers fail to impress.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
50 reviews6 followers
January 2, 2008
I was standing at a bookstore during the Christmas season, looking for something else entirely when I spotted this book. I had dabbled in Bukowski previously, saw some flicks on him, and felt rather ambiguously about his slurring drunk face and unmemorable words.
Until I opened this book. I don't know what compelled me, but it was one of those moments in a book lover's life.
It was a reprieve. The hustle of the Holidays ceased to exist, the jostling crowd melting away as I read, standing there in other peoples' ways. It made me feel everything at once.
I knew I had to have it. It broke the budget but the connection I felt, that unnameable quality and hold that a high school crush has, was too gripping. I still feel this way and I couldn't even begin to tell you why.
Profile Image for Abdul Raheem.
133 reviews86 followers
June 19, 2021
I can't have it
and you can't have it
and we won't
get it

so don't bet on it
or even think about

just get out of bed
each morning

and go out into

outside of that
all that's left is
suicide and

so you just
expect too much

you can't even

so what you do
work from a modest

like when you
walk outside
be glad your car
might possibly
be there

and if it is-
that the tires

then you get
and if it

it's the damndest
you've ever
in it—

low budget
4 billion

and the longest
you ever hope

Profile Image for Conor Walsh.
10 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2010

Pure and simple Bukowski at his finest, every word in this collection of his later poems will read like it was written in your soul. A perfect place to start if you are thinking of getting into Buk's work. You will spend hours looking over and over this book. My favorite poem would have to be 'bluebird' it sent tingles down my spine as I read such brilliance. A great life and another amazing book from America's greatest poet in my opinion.
Profile Image for Andrew.
34 reviews
August 29, 2017
"age is no crime

but the shame
of a deliberately

among so many
wasted lives

Profile Image for francesca.
167 reviews362 followers
August 20, 2022
SO GOOD. the best bukowski collection i’ve read so far
Profile Image for ShadowBearer.
69 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2021
I've never been a man of poetry, but in the last year I've decided to give it a shot. Read a few of the poetry books, mostly modern ones, and was almost ready to give up on it completely when I purchased this collection.

Bukowski got me hooked. I know most of his fame today consists of being the general quote under some black-and-white selfie on Instagram, but this guy was pure gold. His poems are so raw. Bland at first, but when you dive deeper into his words, you enter a world of madness, yet a fascinating one. His words are so simple, yet they cut deep: society, love, madness, drunkness, youth, gettin' old, the passing of time, the passing of everything.

"and the hard words
I ever feared to
can now be said:

I love you"

And just like that, in just a few simple words, he strikes me down. Such a unique man, neither dark nor light: he lived in a raw world, and he blended it perfectly into his poetry, making you feel like that madness is a natural way to go for someone who lives for and with words. Everything in his poems just feels so... Normal... Like, all the bad nights and all the hangovers and all the empty bottles and all the anonymous humans you hook up with and the death and the years and the music and puking and dancing and all the small things that he constantly revisits in his poetry feels so natural and so alive and it feels like a life worth living and now I have to stop because I am writing literally without stopping *gasps for air*
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