Charles Bukowski‘s birthday is today.
This will be stream of conscious as he would have it no other way. So I live in Long Beach, CA very close to San Pedro where Bukowski rode out the remainder of his life. As a poet in the area, it is nearly impossible to speak to a mature writer who cannot tell you stories about their time schmoozing with the master. It often makes me wonder when he had time to actually write. And I’m jealous. How could I not be, he wrote Are You Drinking, and if I list them here, I shall not finish.
As of late, the past two days, you have been rummaging through my mind. And no, it has not been because of James Franco’s “Ham on Rye”, but it’s Franco. . .what? what? No the reason is Tuesday, this poet at the Tuesday reading, Eric M. (had a brilliant poem called Homecoming, and I will buy that chapbook. Would have then, but didn’t have proper change) had a quote from you on his left inner arm. A wonderful place to tattoo something, you need only to bend your arm and it is with you when you need it. And what a sentiment to have with you, to which I say Mr. Bukowski, How is your Heart.
We all do walk through fire, some survive and some do not. My contention is the more fire the better the life. A few singe marks are simple ash to make you more colorful. Clear skin means nothing in the end. I don’t want it. I don’t have it. It appears that in this life I have become flame retardant.
So last year, nearly that long ago, I was at Green Hills, where you are buried. I never mentioned it to my friend who dutiful and lovingly visited his father and grandfather, even passed by an uncle to give regards. My friend would not have been interested, and at the time neither was I. At the time I cared fully about the fires he traversed and the one he was helping me traverse. I might of only been able to crawl through the fire without him, but walked and had a few sprints along the way. I’m grateful to him. But I’m truly grateful to you Mr. Charles Bukowski for reminding me how lucky I am. For inspiring Eric to tattoo his arm. For all the inspiration that fills the day and the lives that have read your work.
I wish I had a grandfather like you–drunk, dirty, creative, beautiful instead of a molester and gambler, but sometimes we are dealt fires in the people we meet, and sometimes too early. Doesn’t matter, as long as you get through with style.
Thank you for reminding me of that, and thank you for everything else you wrote. I’ll be drinking to you tonight at the congregation in Long Beach.