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undiscovered poems by Charles Bukowski

By Yvonne de la Vega

"Charles Bukowksi’s first generally recognized publication date is in the 1960s, yet citations from the early 60s exist in Sanford Dorbin’s early bibliography, and The Roominghouse Madrigals prints poems from the late 40s.
The fact is that Bukowski has published extensively in various small literary publications for over thirty years. These publications exist in small numbers and are difficult if not impossible to find. Fortunately, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press has managed to cull together these poems and stories over several collections, until catching up with his contemporary writings in the 80s.
The following poems are from the private collection of The Los Angeles Poetry Examiner’s, copied from Pearl-Number 14 Fall/Winter 1991 and have yet to be found elsewhere."



An Answer
within the past six years
there have been four
different rumors that i
have died.
I don’t know who begins
these rumors
or why.
and certainly humans
do worse things than
this.
yet I always feel strange
when i must tell people,
usually over the
telephone, that I am
not yet dead.
somebody out there
or perhaps several
people
evidently get some
satisfaction
in announcing that I am
no longer
around.
some day,
some night
the announcement will be
true.
to put it mildly,
I am no longer
young.
but these death-
wishers
are an unsavory
group,
these hyenas,
these vultures,
these failed writers,
will also some day be dead,
their petty bitterness,
their lying gutless
beings gone into
the dark.
but for the moment,
I am here
and these last lines
are for them:
your cowardice will not be missed.
even the roaches
lived with more
honor
and you were always
dead
before
me
without
rumor.
Charles Bukowski 1991
San Pedro, California

On The Bum
moving from city to city
I always had two pairs of
shoes
my work shoes were
thick and black
and stiff.
sometimes when I
first put them on
they were very painful,
the toes were
hardened and bent
back
but I’d get them on
on a hangover
morning.
thinking, well
here we go
again.
working for
miserable wages
and expected to
be grateful
for that,
having been chosen
from a score of
applicants.
it was probably my
ugly and
honest face.
but putting on
those shoes
again
was always
the beginning.
i had always
imagined myself
escaping that.
making it at the
gaming table
or in the
ring
or in the bed
of some rich lady.
maybe I got
like that from
living too long in
Los Angeles,
a place far too
close to
Hollywood.
but going down
those roominghouse
steps
with each beginning,
the stiff shoes
murdering my
feet,
stepping out into
the early sun,
the sidewalk was
there,
and I was just one
more
common laborer,
one more
cpmmon
human,
the whole universe
sliding through
my head
and out my ears.
the timecard waited
to check me in
and out.
and afterwards
something to
drink and the
ladies from
hell.
work shoes
work shoes
work shoes
and me
them with
all the lights
turned
out.
 
Charles Bukowski 1991
San Pedro, California


Via the Examiner