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.  (read more)

The following poems are from my own the private collection, copied from  Pearl-Number 14 Fall/Winter 1991 and have yet to be found elsewhere.

The above text is the article text from The Los Angeles Poetry Examiner. That’s me. The rules of the road at the publication are to speak in 3rd person, which eliminates the  entire story. But here it is…

This Pearl Magazine was my very first invitation to be published. Back then, in 1991, I had just happened into the Los Angeles poetry scene, and didn’t really know who anyone was. I remember going to the Pearl Mag book release in San Pedro and I also remember that this very famous poet was going to be there.

Through the years, I had forgotten all about that night. But what had happened was very typically me. I was very excited to read that night. When I got to the reading, the place was standing room only. Everyone was there to see Bukowski.

I didn’t know who he was, I was a housewife and girl scout mother. I knew nothing about the poetry world and circumstance had it, my torrid childhood did not include the proper education that was due me. My mother died and I left school. I barely knew who Hemmingway was.

Well, by the time it was my turn at the podium, Bukowski had already read and the entire room had followed him outside. I pretty much read to an empty room. But here’s the good thing, a memory that came back to me just recently, because I had suddenly discovered that Hank was in the same book of my first publication. I remember someone saying to me that “the poet” wanted to meet me.

I remember being escorted to his table and him asking or telling or motioning for me to sit down, and I did. He seemed shy, but was smiling. He pushed a piece of paper toward me and said, “Do you want this?” It was the paper his poetry was printed on, the poetry he had read that evening. Not knowing the value of these things then, I shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And I took them.

I got into my friend Danny Peck’s car. Danny was very excited saying, “Awe Baby, that’s huge that’s big time!” and that’s all I recall of the night. The years went by… and at Beyond Baroque Joan Jobe Smith read from Pearl 43. I went home that night and took Pearl 14 of my shelf. And when I opened the book, there it was! The poetry Charles Bukowski had given to me 20 years ago! Not only that, but also his notes on the back. He was doodling and he had written,

“The Lost Symbol”.  How perfectly significant is that?   -Yvonne de la Vega

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
common 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

About Yvonne de la Vega

Poet & Thinker. Joker. Laugher. Part time safe trickster. Visionary for Peace On Earth, Favorite quote: Love is all we need Message: Visualize Peace Visit my website at http://www.yvonnedelavega.com

4 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Yvonne de la Vega was here. and commented:

    I love Hank.

  2. doug knott says:

    Yvonne, this was a true pleasure, to read these 0-so-real Bukowski bits. Even the bitterness and the rant. But the style, the poetry is so perfect. Thank you – Doug

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