Somehow, I managed to get through college without reading anything (that I remember at least) by Charles Bukowski. It wasn’t until a few years after graduation that my cousin read some of my poems and suggested I pick up one of Hank’s books.

One of the remarkable things about Bukowski is the clarity of his images and the bluntness with which he delivers them. Even though he’s the hero of his story, there’s no cape anywhere to be seen and the victories are usually inconsequential. At the end of the day, he was interested most in getting the words down.

Over the years, I’ve written a bunch of poems about Hank and even a couple to him. Here’s a quick one from a few months ago.

hank had us beat

the worst is knowing that Bukowski did it better
than all of us.

over a quarter century of confessional poems
since he cashed his ticket & none of us has
approached the throne.

we are cripples at the gate begging 
for alms and healing -
copying the same libretto & failing still.