2 poems inspired by Bukowski by John Guzlowski

brown and black typewriter

Me and Charles Bukowski

One time I was in Paderborn, Germany
looking at Charles Bukowski books
in a book store window,

and this old writer
who looked like Bukowski
came up to me and said,
What do you think of him?

And maybe he was just drunk
and maybe I was just drunker
and I said, “Bukowski?
He’s okay.
He’s like Kerouac
without the drama
and the mommy problem.”

The old guy laughed
and said, “you don’t know shit
about shit.”

The poet Charles Bukowski reads from his works

Silence in the front
row and gears cranking
in the back

but Buk
doesn’t blush.

he tells us
is the fear
we feel when all
the darkness
of the forest
is sitting before us
on the empty page.

He says
this is where every poem
begins and ends

If words
were a cloud
we would
all beg for sun.

Some teachers
and their students
leave the room.

The hour is getting late
but Bukowski keeps

Students are weeping.

He tells them poetry
will not save them

He tells them the world
is a vast ocean
of sorrow

and not even
the greatest effort
by the greatest poet
will keep them

He tells them,
we are sent here
by God to drown—

and the muse
of poetry
is the concrete
He cements
to our legs.

He says,
I have listened
and heard the wind moving
through my skull
like an anaconda
grown slow and fat
on discarded rinds
and terror.

He tells us more and more
and we listen in silence
and fear and approbation.

a student sweeps up
and picks up a dress
his teacher once wore.

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, North American Review, Rattle, Ontario Review, Salon.Com, and many other journals. His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees appear in his award-winning memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues. He is also a columnist for the Dziennik Zwiazkowy (the oldest Polish language daily in America) and the author of Suitcase Charlie and Little Altar Boy, noir mystery novels set in Chicago

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1


  1. Bukowski?
    What can I add to this that would be any, any added value at all?
    Nothing comes.
    Except to ‘add’ my two cents:
    I am a ‘Follower’ of Bukowski.
    A fan.
    Oh, I am a follower of your blog as well.
    Good stuff!
    Thoughtful and well-written.


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