Nothing will get between me and Mr. Bukowski. Oh me and the Buk…..what kind of fuckery is this? It was the beat’s fault. They let the shit and piss and juice of life run through their poetry and writing and so infused words with physical vitality, and trust me, no one is more dedicated to bodily fluids than old Buk. I can’t say I like him. I’ve known men who are far too much like him that use booze as their fuel. They are interesting from the outside looking in. But once inside their sphere of influence, their splash zone, within striking distance of their antics, they are not very much fun at all.
Men like Buk are meant to be observed through opera glasses for the chattering classes, safely from a distance, waving from the opera box as they fool and lurch, piss and shit, vomit and cum over the stage and each other in a mess of physicality for the entertainment of others who like to peer into the dumpster instead of ruining their lives and evening gowns with the mess of it all.
Reading Buk is one thing. For appetites deadened by being able to have it all, and have it right now, there is a frisson of excitement, a kick of the taboo and the forbidden to be gained within the pages. It’s no cheap trick. To write like Bukowski you have to live it, one whiskey bottle at a time, one fist fight after another, one ruined life after the next, one party that you are not at because you are drinking and everyone else thinks you are, to all tomorrows parties for ever and ever, believing that they want to drink with you…until they do. They never last more than a few days, and by that point invariably want out.
Now I am not truly one of these drinkers, though I cannot drink any longer to prove it to anybody, or myself – mainly because I am too scared to ever take another sip. I don’t dare. One run in with the DT’s and a few blackouts down the line, I was out. Bukowski dared. In notes of a dirty old man (pub. City Lights Books), he wrote “nothing for me to do but drain the beer can and wait for the bomb to drop.” Buk didn’t mind being the bomb that got dropped. He sacrificed himself for his art and his drinking which fueled his art. I have no desire to be a bomb, nor the constitution for it.
You see Bukowski could only produce, (so he thought, I am not convinced that he couldn’t do it sober), while he was drunk, “find out what you love and let it kill you” he once said. His trick was being able to let other people in for the death ride, the ability to put degeneration into words, to let us gawp in and watch the clown show distress unravel him until there no more more to be unwound. That isn’t to say he was not a beautiful writer, just that he saw beauty in the gutter, in the vitality flooding out of people who were down where he found himself. He didn’t make it until he was 49, and only then after the pursuit of success took him all the way down into failure, poverty and mundane addiction.
Drunken rides are spoken of with hilarity by our gonzo and beat friends. Neal Cassady was famous for his terror drives while high and drunk, skating the thin ice of tons of metal and engine on blacktop, controlled only by the vibrations from fingertips and the prayers of the people who were sober enough to be scared.
It was not mathematical geometric triganomic genius. It was not an ability to feel a car or a road, or some other such hokey fake Buddhist meditation bollocks. These drunks are not monks, no zen-bo’s, nor enlightened beings: these are simply crazy bastards who should be kept away from car keys. Real Buddhists would quietly and decently distance themselves from such magical thinking….It was not that they are great drivers, no skillset, no! It is pure stupid luck that distinguishes the Neal’s of this world (and the Billy’s dare I say…he-of-the ‘had to get a license to deal cars one year because he wrecked and bought so many junkers and beaters running them off roads in madman speed trap drunken moonlight drives’ debacle), from the dead kids and the devastated families left behind when one of these motherfuckers doesn’t get so fucking lucky.
Me and Mister Bukowski. Words are like quicksand, they shift like liquid then solidify concrete-hardened, sucking you in slowly until you can taste the big black beyond in a mouthful of silicates and beach detritus. Words drown you in pint bottles and Charles informs me, there is a real and alarming possibility of the syph, as you commiserate and dig the words, dig the meaning, dig the feeling, dig dig dig yourself out of the hole you find yourself in. I dream of Bukowski, he is always looking round the corner of a building, watching me turn into the shadows, dodging the bag that stinks of pissed soaked clothes and beer hanging on the bush to the right, going out towards Geary, out towards Post (office job mundane slow car crash of boredom disaster) out to where I have a room or a space at least for now, watching me be his one-eyed Cassandra leaving going going gone.
There is no need of a moon out here, just the tired yellow night of the streetlamps and the all night stories that sell cans of coke, cigarettes and lost dreams. You might find a beer in there if you are lucky. A last pint of five dollar white port that might drag you to the lights out that you fight fight fight all the way. If you count to five you might make it to the bed before you drop out on the floor, sleeping with your boots on. There are no railway cars out here, I left them behind with Bukowski. You can choose better times, you can choose better vehicles to carry the weight of your final destination, you might find a prettier/safer/friendlier/cooler/warmer/ sanctuary with a house, any house will do, you might find real love – not pretend. Love, luck, fortune all run screaming from you. The pricks don’t want you to find it, it isn’t as much fun watching someone swim as it is drown in water or particles, in life or in dying. Doesn’t mean you can stop searching, just probably best to stop hoping. Stop screaming. Stop dreaming. Stop running. Stop hiding. Stop everything. Stop the presses. Stop the clock. Stop the time. Stop the decay. Stop the descent. Stop the stealing. Stop the killing. Stop. Just stop. I turn to Buk, “the day I stop fighting, I’m dead,’ I tell him. But there is no point: Buk’s sleeping.
Poet of Piss(ed). Commander General of the Gutter. Darling of the Drunks and Disasters. Hero of the minimum wage worker and every Hendrix that is stuck pumping gas in the middle of bumfuck Ohio and playing like an angel on a $80 Silvertone for no one but his hound dog and some chick called Suzie who wouldn’t know the blues if it bit her on her skinny ass. High Priest of Hammerhead Pricks. Consigliere of Cunts. Mr Bukowski, I salute you and all who sailed in you, and all the hours that came to pass while you were passed out in search of the base that reality is built upon. Peace. Peace. Peace.