Sunday, August 24, 2008

mr. bukowski ? your server is down

hank lays down some hard earned.
at hollywood park, after studying the form.

scream from the balcony*. illustration by ib, 1994.

Well. It seems my hosting server is playing up again.

This prevents me from uploading any material - music, that is - which is bad news for you, dear siblings, since I have no option but to improvise. Or compromise. However you want to play it.

A bit of busking is required.

I read a piece somewhere recently where a young man concluded he was jinxed. Every time he wrote somebody famous, that person would mysteriously die. He cited several supporting instances - some celebrities I have more time for than most - but my memory fails me. He was jinxed all right. A regular Jonah. I know that for sure because the curse of that Old Testament sailor, the son of Amittai, is nothing new to me. I recognised straight away just where he was coming from, the poor bastard. It is just as well I am not a wedding planner by profession. There would be a procession of demented divorcees beating a path to my door.

I will allude to just the one example here - there have been many - since that is all this post requires. Any more and you will be nodding off before you have even stuck a fork into your Sunday dinner. Or lifted a glass.

The illustration above was completed with the intention of mailing it to Bukowski. I even got so far as flicking through some dog-eared Black Sparrow editions for a c/o address and transferred it onto the manilla envelope I'd saved for that purpose. Well, I reasoned, If I'm finally going to write the old bastard I might as well make it a gift of sorts. I felt the standard fan-faretheewell-letter contemptibly beneath me. Anyway, if 'The Poet Laureate of Skid Row' declined to return any word I could console myself with a crumb of self-righteous indignation at least. I had waited until he was far too infamous. The worm of procrastination had eventually turned. A type-written reply from a mini-skirted secretary may sting as much as a rejection slip, but it was only to be expected. So as not to come across as too much in awe, the text I included in the illustration was from a letter Buk wrote to poet, Douglas Blazek - a regular correspondent at the time - in 1965, subsequently published in "Screams From The Balcony"; If you look closely at the upper left of the picture above, you will see I even managed to misspell Blazek's name.

I hoped that was sufficient a clue.

I was on the way to the Post Office when I passed a kiosk selling magazines and periodicals peppered through the daily rags. A headline caught my eye:

"Literary Bum Bukowski Dead at 73."

Fuck it.

I picked up some pace and headed off to the nearest bar. I may have been desperate but I wasn't dumb enough to waste good money on postage.


"Missed the first three races
Seven more to go

Plus the Belmont Stakes
On the big screen


The horses I bet

In the fourth and the fifth



Sonja laughed






I left her smoking by the rail
Went inside to watch

Denis of Cork win

The Belmont Stakes

He didn't

In the sixth

My luck changed
As Triola, 14-1,

Stalked the pace

Then prevailed

That's when I bought

Bukowski a beer

And drank it and
A few more
For him

Because he has been dead a long time"

- Ha
, Mr. Beer N. Hockey, 2008.

Poem courtesy of Dope City Free Press.


Anonymous said...

holy smokes. awesome fucking illo.
i had no idea you had that talent.
i'd bet a series like that would be a best seller, well as best as it could be. impressed.

ib said...

cheers, Brendan.

Unknown said...

I concur with Brendan... Amazing work!

A songwriter, a wordsmith, AND a talented artist. A triple threat!

What next? Gonna post a video of you dancing with the National Ballet?

And, my compliments to Mr. Beer on his words... Glad his luck changed in the sixth!

ib said...

Ha. Don't mess with my tutu, Matt!

It's a great poem. I need to control the urge to reprint them here without permission before Beer decides to sue me.


As you probably ascertained from things I've mentioned over at NSS, I used to edit a little 'zine out of San Jose,CA. for over 10 years called EAT POOP! Buk being a fave of mine, I early on published a poem that he had sent to a friend of mine that had never been published (for me a coup in itself). I then sent a copy of the ish of EP! to Hank to see what might transpire (Feb. 1992). I received the following letter & poem, which I shared with my readers & am now sharing here.

Hello Nothin',
Thanks for your magazine. What more can I say? I get lots of magazines & letters & manuscripts & photos of women's bodies. I get threats. I get praise. I get dullness. I get garlands of self-pity. I get a mass & a mess of stuff. I can't respond to all of these. I can't smooth & soothe all of these. I can't flagellate them. There's not enough of me. I got toothaches, flat tires, the falling shit of darkness, etc., just like anybody else. Please understand, I am an isolationist but not a prick. Well, not always a prick
You asked for something. (did I forget to mention that above, er, oh - NØ) It is a poem (enclosed) If you don't like it, it means your balls are tangled in your shorts & it's cutting off the blood supply to your brain. S.A.E. enclosed for your usage. & of course, if you do like the poem, it means that you are a fine fellow, acute, & riveted to the flow of the gods.
EAT POOP!, eh? Can you back that up? I don't use calendars, I just ask somebody,"Is it March or Mayhem?" There may be flies on some of you guys but there're vultures on me.


In search of the hero

I never met him, even in the alley. I make out the form that has battered me to the ground, but it's no good. It was nothing but a half-brained ape.

In print, for a while, it was Hemingway, then I noticed that his writing was writing itself, he was not writing it.

In drinking, it was nobody. I opened & closed the bar, others gave it a try but they came & left, they had neither the thirst nor the gamble nor the suicidal bent. I stayed on that stool for 5 years waiting for a drinking companion. Hundreds came & left. They died, quit, vanished. I ordered more drinks, then I left to drink in the rooms with the only companion I had met...

In sex. I began quite late & being fully rested I gave it a roaring bang, learning more from each & applying it in all its fullsome aspects, awakening in new bed after new bed & back in some old ones...looking out the window & seeing my car parked outside...& remembering that there was another to do that day & maybe another that night.

Dinners, lunches, wines, walks in the park, walks along the sea, sometimes meeting a brother, a son, an x-husband & once, a husband. I knew of nobody who was doing as many bodies as I & drinking as hard at the same time. I was doing it all & I was penniless & stupid & almost without reason. To return now & then to my tiny dirty court after long absences to find wild notes under my door & in my mailbox.

I couldn't handle them all & some became enraged, attacked my automobile, broke into the premises, destroyed everything, the female hurricanes from hell.

& to have the phones ringing throughout all time, curses, wails, hangups, re-rings, threats of love, threats of death, & if I took the phone off the hook...soon the sound of a racing motor, the screeching of brakes & a rock through the window.

3 times there were attempted murders against me. & I was old & ugly, worse than poor, often even without toilet paper & I was only giving the game half a try...

But, I mean, I knew of nobody like me around.

I was my own hero. Crazed, true.

I remember once after a rock crashed through my window & I heard the car roaring off, sex-worn as I was, I decided to jack off just for the hell of it. It was terribly hard work but I worked & worked about 45 minutes, finally brought it off. There was hardly enough to wipe off. Christ, I thought, I've got to be nuts, I ought to kill myself. Instead I got up & poured a glass half of scotch & half of water. Drank it, of course, you jacksnipe.

What i mean is, I knew nobody like me. There was nobody anywhere. That's all right but it's all very odd. I mean, all these faces & bodies & feet & earlobes, the history of man & the roach & the tambourine.

I'd go white into black bars, I'd go drunk into Mexican bars, I'd go anywhere. I'd spit into the eye of God & the devil & nothing would happen. Well, sometimes it would but I'd wake up somewhere & the sun would be shining & I'd still be there.

I knew nobody on the search, I knew nobody on the run, I knew nobody who wanted to shake up the history of the hours & make them do something.

I bought the cheapest junk cars off the lots & drove them to Caliente, to Mexico, the woman saying, "Jesus, you're driving this thing like a Cadillac!" I felt it was better than a Cadillac because I was driving it.

I played my poor dollars at the track as if all the gods of eternity were with me & besides I had a system based upon my readings of 3 years worth of chart books of all the North American tracks.

I liked those hills behind the track, so burned-out, so fucked-over, they felt like I. I always wanted to walk out there but only in spirit, my body knew better...that is, better to die by my own hand.

I had my favorite place to stay afterwards, over the border, past San Clemente, it was an old blue motel over the ocean & you could hear the ocean running there beneath you as you came, drank, slept, or stayed awake thinking of childhood, death, lack of meaning & the 25 percent take the Mexican track put upon my scarce dollar.

All this means nothing to you, of course, because you feed off me, maybe, because I do the living & the writing for you, I get the letters from guys in jails & madhouses & just out there anywhere who state, basically the same thing: "You've made it possible for me to go on..."

Great. But what do I use when I begin wearing thin? Where do i look? What do I do? Where are the insanely strong? Where do they hide? I've been here 70 years, I don't think that they exist, either in the Arts, the farts, or the cabin on the hill. It's all right, the kindest things I have found are four walls. There's more grace & strength there than in my imaginary heaven or actual hell.

So, the stiffness of our agony is even intolerable to me. Yes. So, let me tell you a funny one to round it out or around or over, overt. Ha, ha.

I remember it quite well, had been drinking, of course, some place, somewhere, I know it ended in some small room in downtown L.A. I was there with this beautiful girl with long hair, so young, such a fine body, so long long hair, it was almost too much, & I think it began in a bar downstairs or around the corner & it was possibly arranged that i was to have sex with this half child of unbelievable beauty, I bullshit you not, but there was also a large heavy woman there, even much uglier than I & I turned to her & said, "You can leave the room now."

"I stay," she said, "I make sure you not hurt her."

Christ, she was ugly. The room whirled, the world whirled, the cheap flowers upon the wallpaper bloomed 7 blinked at me. I wanted the obvious to become the unobvious. I wanted Christ to do the tango. I wanted the moths of the earth, the caterpillars, to be mounted & recognized as the ultimate glory.

"I don't want her," I said, "I want you."


"I'm going to fuck you." I rushed at her, grabbing, while noticing, at the same time, the beautiful girl on the bed not moving, not saying anything. The big old woman was stronger than shit, she fought me off, I was very drunk, it was some battle, I reached for where a breast was supposed to be, I tried to kiss her drained & wretched mouth but she was full of refried beans & a good old fashioned viciousness, we banged against the dresser, spun around, she shoved me off, I crashed against the wall, she rushed me & swung a vast arm upon which was attached a SILVER HOOK! No hand, just that gleaming metallic clipping snipper thing, & I think that she was a lesbian also, & I ducked under the hook & she swung it again & I leaped aside, I ran toward the door, it was closed, I ducked under the swing of the hook once have no idea how it glinted, glinted under that one cheap light globe that illuminated that heartless room in hell...I landed a right to her only gave her a moments pause...I flung open the door & ran down the stairway (it was a 2nd floor) & she chased me down the stairway & I ran down the street, I ran & ran & then I looked around & she was gone. & then, luckily for me, unlike so many other nights of night elsewhere & everywhere, I remembered exactly where I had parked my car.

I have thousands of stories but if I haven't bored you, I have bored myself. Just mainly to say it's tough crud all around, but I'll never be lonely because there's nothing to be around.

The albatross is fake,
Van Gogh hustled
dead strokes,
the universe is a shoe
with gum stuck to the
bottom of its
there are no heroes,
there is only a mouse
in the corner
blinking its eyes,
there is only a corner
with a mouse,
Kant wiping his
the imbecility of
the warp of the
toads embracing slivers
of two bit sunlight,
the monkey fingering
& you
reading this page

Charles Bukowski 16 Aug. 1920 - 9 March 1994

ib said...

Nate. I am jealous. But only a little.

I'm more glad you thought to share this here. What can I say ?


Thank you.


You're more than welcome, my friend.

After the beautiful artwork I pilfered from you, it was the least i could do.

We all get what we deserve, but the deserving are worthy of what they get.

Anonymous said...

Bukowski was a weak poet.Anybody can muse and meander their way through a few moments using a string of words, even me.

I choke on the smoke
like an overgrown dope.
Like a dope that smokes
and chokes.
The choke is on me!


Mrs Bretherton liked to climb the walls that surrounded her mania.
The walls that contained
her neurosis, so familiar.
They are her walls
and she wont
let anybody
them. Unless,

I prefer Ogden Nash. Now there's a poet.

Anyhow, I think your blog is excellent. Always original, never predictable, educational and goddam fuckin funny and frightenin!!

Say hello to Rose for me...
Chris ( Preston)

ib said...

Hey, Chris.

Thanks for the praise regarding the blog. It's gratifying to get positive feedback.

Of course, I can't agree so far as Bukowski's poetry being weak; I like your one about Mrs. Bretherton's dilemma, though.

I'll get Rosa to check in on this comment. I know she'll want to say hi back. Say hello to Mark when you see him next.