year-worn weary to the bone, dancing in the dark with the dark, the Suicide Kid gone gray. ah, the swift summers over and gone forever! is that death stalking me now? no, it’s only my cat, this time.
A Man Name Charles Bukowski
From The People Look Like Flowers At Last by Charles Bukowski. Copyright© 2007 by Linda Lee Bukowski. Published by arrangement with Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
if it doesn't come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don't do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don't do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don't do it. if you're doing it for money or fame, don't do it. if you're doing it because you want women in your bed, don't do it. if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don't do it. if it's hard work just thinking about doing it, don't do it. if you're trying to write like somebody else, forget about it. if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else. if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you're not ready. don't be like so many writers, don't be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don't be dull and boring and pretentious, don't be consumed with self- love. the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. don't add to that. don't do it. unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don't do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don't do it. when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was.
From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.
I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again. worse, the bar patrons even ended up liking me. there I was trying to get pushed over the dark edge and I ended up with free drinks while somewhere else some poor son-of-a-bitch was in a hospital bed, tubes sticking out all over him as he fought like hell to live. nobody would help me die as the drinks kept coming, as the next day waited for me with its steel clamps, its stinking anonymity, its incogitant attitude. death doesn't always come running when you call it, not even if you call it from a shining castle or from an ocean liner or from the best bar on earth (or the worst). such impertinence only makes the gods hesitate and delay. ask me: I'm 72.
Copyright © 2005 by Charles Bukowski. From Slouching Toward Nirvana: New Poems. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
sometimes I think the gods deliberately keep pushing me into the fire just to hear me yelp a few good lines. they just aren't going to let me retire silk scarf about neck giving lectures at Yale. the gods need me to entertain them. they must be terribly bored with all the others and I am too. and now my cigarette lighter has gone dry. I sit here hopelessly flicking it. this kind of fire they can't give me.
From The Continual Condtion by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Lee Bukowski. Used by permission of Ecco Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.