Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bukowski, Still Kicking

As many of you who know me know, I have an iPod and, although I'm not one of those people that has all the colored accessories, and the white headphones, etc., I do talk about it to close friends and family about it more than I should. Anyway, this little device is my companion in the morning on the way to work which often influences my early morning thoughts.

Case in point: yesterday morning, iPod shuffle selected a Warren Zevon tune for me as I walked into the office. Today, on the way to work, I heard two separate tracks of Charles Bukowski reading his poetry.

It is amazing to me (in addition to the wonderfulness of his work), that Bukowski continues to enjoy success as a poet, even eleven years after his death. His books still sell. His signed items on eBay fetch hundreds of dollars. And sure, you can say that about a lot of dead writers, but Bukowski continues to publish new poems. Huh?

The guy wrote so much and sent so many pieces out to literary magazines, that his "new" poems continue to appear in literary magazines. And, for the second time in the run of The Best American Poetry series, a Bukowski poem has been anthologized in the 2005 volume. This is also on my mind as I am attending a reading for the series tomorrow night at The New School, and am fairly certain Bukowski will not be there. Anyway, kudos to Guest Editor Paul Muldoon for selecting a Bukowski poem. I was going to leave you today with the second poem I heard this morning, which happens to be one of my favorites, but alas, I couldn't easily copy it online. So here is another, a consolation of sorts, another favorite of mine:

The Genius Of The Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

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