Home » Art & Literature, Hall Of Fame

Charles Bukowski : Ordinary Madness, Poetry & Drawings.

Written by 56 Comments Email This Post Email This Post    Print This Post Print This Post

hell yes, I'll go...

I am standing around the track after the first race
no, it’s before the first race and then the mob rolls
and roars as two men are fighting and others are screaming
and a fat cop runs in, gets a punch in the face, yells,
“HEY, YOU SON OF A BITCH!”, blows his whistle as the mass
of arms and yelling evolve toward me, one man breaks loose,
runs toward me making strange noises, I get ready to swing
but he circles off and the cop grabs him, blows his whistle

I don’t understand any of it, go over and buy a coffee,
drink it.

nothing much happens until just before the 6th race I am
standing two back in line watching the man at the window
doing his transactions with the teller and he’s taking too
long and I don’t like the shape of his head or his pants or
his coat, I don’t like the way he stands, I pick up rays
from him that I realize I only feel are ugly, nobody else
feels this and I am telling myself, man, your sanity is
weakening, it’s probably you who are the slime of the
creatures of the universe, get it together, look the other
way, no single man can judge another… but I can’t help
it: when he turns his lips are wet, his eyes glistening with
stupidity… what can we judge but what we feel, not what
we are taught and told what to do…
he took too long while they were putting them in the gate,
he actually relaxed, dawdled over his dumb selections,
calling all the wrong numbers…
I don’t like the shape of his head or his pants or his
coat, I don’t like his ears, his eyebrows, his shoelaces.
he stands and we stare at each other and we are enemies
from centuries back and I feel this proclivity to eliminate
him, we are locked…
I jerk my head up and down, make strange sounds that I have
never heard… furious within nothingness…

one sound from him and I will be on him but he walks off
and I have time to buy a ticket just as they jump out of the
gate and I walked to the ramp as the numbers go by in the
mile and one sixteenth race and the screaming begins, it’s
always been war.

trouble in the night…

son of a bitch, I don’t know why
but late at night they keep playing
the Pathetique


they play it as I sit here naked
as a pink pig sucking
on this wine.

we got through the day yet this boy
down at the radio station just has to
keep playing the 6th
which reminds us of all the
billions of bones under the earth
all my x-girl friends with other
men’s penises in their
honeysuckle summer madness…

the day passed into night.
Night is when we think of getting
into bed drunk
letting the starlight puzzle over
our dumb weariness, but
we don’t want any
we don’t want to be reminded of
the rankness of the
and our sad balls; it makes us
fitful and inept
sleepless until the first

this boy at the radio station
this son of a bitch
whatever happened to his Eric
Coates records?

I pour another wine
change stations, and here’s some
bi-sexual singing to me he’s
my “knight in shining armor…”

I turn the radio off and drink the
wine down.
then I look and there’s a spider
walking across my desk.
he’s just walking along
without a web or

I name him Tchaikovsky,
Peter Illich Tchaikowsky (1840-1893)
then I press my bare hand down and
kill him.
Walk to the bedroom thinking,
I will write that son of a bitch
at the radio station
(knowing all along that I won’t)
I fall on the bed
my body held up over the
millions of billions of bones
in the earth
and all the billions of bones
to follow,
son of a bitch,
including mine,
now held up
by the legs of the bed and the
while on other mattresses
my x-girl friends…

dead spider, forgive me, if I had
been drinking in some bar instead of
listening to the 6th
you’d probably be eating something
good about now…

laying up …

this fellow in the front court, I knew his wife
and I hadn’t seen Eddie is a good in some weeks and I asked
her, “where’s Eddie, Jan?  I haven’t seen Eddie
in a couple of weeks.”
Eddie was her husband and she answered, “Oh, Eddie,
he’s got the sleeping sickness, he just lays up
back in there.”
she motioned back toward the bedroom of their court.
“oh,” I said.
she did housekeeping for some rich men in the
Eddie and Jan had two children; they had all come
from South Carolina so maybe the people could hear
Eddie play his guitar and sing
but Eddie hadn’t had much luck in Hollywood.

“you still writing those dirty stories, Hank?”
she asked me.

“oh yeah,” I said, “but don’t you think he ought
to see a doctor?”

“oh no,” she said, “he gets this sleeping sickness
right off and on.  it passes.”

Eddie was back there with all the shades down,
thick grey shades and the sun couldn’t get through
and even some green brush came up and covered part
of the window, and it was hot outside and his kids
were running up and down the walk screaming but he
didn’t know it.

I walked down to my court, sat down and typed a
dirty story,
and that’s that part of it.

the other part of it is that one day I moved out
of that court and soon after they moved out too,
and now and then I’ll come to town and drive past
those courts, stop the car and looked down in there
to where I used to live and to where Eddie and Jan
lived up in front, and all I can think of it is
Eddie laying up back in there with that big grey
shade pulled down, just laying back in there while
the traffic signals were changing at Hollywood and
Western, while the hustlers were hustling and the
cops patrolling and the boys catching steel in
the barroom fights, and during the car crashes
and the helicopter flying overhead, Eddie with the
sleeping sickness.

the liberated women and the liberated air…

the one you were considering killing yourself
you saw her the other day
getting out of her car
in the Safeway parking lot.
she was dressed in a large green
dress and scuffed
her face raw with living.
she saw you
and you walked up
and talked and
her hair did not glisten
her eyes and her conversation were
where was she?
where had she gone?
the one you were going to kill yourself

the conversation finished
she walks into the store
and you look at her automobile
and even that machine
which used to drive up to you
with such swiftness and
now looks
like a junkyard

you decide not to shop at
you’ll drive 5 blocks
away and buy something
at Ralph’s.

she’s going to the Safeway

getting into your car
you are quite pleased that
you didn’t
kill yourself;
everything is delightful and
your hands upon the wheel,
you grin as you push
the rearview mirror down
and look…

my man, you’ve saved yourself
for somebody else, but

a long thin girl walks by
showing a magic leg
through a slitted dress.

you start the engine and
drive off.

this habit …

it’s done by living past the women
and finally without them;
it’s done standing by the window
and watching a small dog walk past;
it’s done in a café while reading the
race results and eating a sandwich;
it’s done while talking to your daughter
who is now a grown woman in college;
it’s done while weeding the garden as
you are hung over from solitary drinking;
the words form, the god damned lovely
words form again and again
into this habit of

“I can hear you typing at night,” says
my neighbor.

“oh, I’m sorry…”

“no,” he says, “it’s a pleasant sound…”

he’s right, it is.
and when I don’t cause that sound for
two or three days
I become fitful
my face gets an unhealthy sag, and –
you must believe me –
I have visions of the way that
I will die.

when typing I’m

well, maybe not immortal.
but habitually
this old typewriter and
this old man
live well together.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...

Related Articles

56 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Athena - USA said:

    I am disappointed in this poetry by Charles Bukowski. While interesting, gritty, possibly some of his best work, and yes; thought provoking, I felt several of the pieces were not in the appropriate focus in relation to the rest of the magazine as a whole. I feel they would show better in a different type setting or magazine. My opinion is that they detracted from the whole as they were too graphic, and possibly negative in outlook for the wider audience I think you are attempting to appeal to. Poetry can be an incredibly wonderful medium to show perspective, and I do so enjoy GOOD poetry! And great art.

  • Barbara – North Carolina said:

    I didn’t particularly care for the poem “Ordinary Madness” I don’t believe a poem needs to have what I consider bad language to have meaning and to be felt. I feel that if someone writes poetry meaning for it to be felt, it can be felt deeper while at the same time using language that does not involve what used to be considered curse words, although lately it does seem more people have come to accept word usage that wasn’t acceptable not too long ago. (The poem itself is okay but not really something I’d want to knowingly buy if I were buying a book of poetry.)

  • Editor said:

    Thank you, Shaun, for your feedback. The letter accompanied the poems, but was not intended by Buk to part of them. I was fortunate to have his friendship and to publish his work so such correspondence was not uncommon from him. I feel the letter is a poem in and of itself. It captures a piece of the artist, the man.

  • Shaun - Oklahoma said:

    The Bukowski piece called to me, though I found it confusing–was the typed letter and all the poems after it all together in something he sent you? I used to teach high school, and a few of my former students made a poetry chair dedicated to Bukowski–it’s in my museum (along with other poetry chairs). I have a corner of the museum that is about cats and metaphors and includes Bukowski’s sad and hilarious The History of One Tough Motherfucker, which is a poem all about what your site is–winning and persevering against the odds. Thank you!

  • Nathan - New Mexico said:

    I enjoyed the over all brand and theme of your work and see that you have a nice diversity of subjects and writing styles. I like that there is fiction and non-fiction and was excited to see you even have poetry by the late Charles Bukowski.

  • MJ - Canada said:

    I was quite impressed with this Charles Bukowski contribution. The late poet is a favorite writer of mine.

  • Claudia G said:

    I am very inspired by the mission of your magazine.
    I went through some of the stories in the site and even found this Charles Bukowski letter to you, wow!

  • Gonzalo – Peru said:

    I liked your selection of bukowski Poetry and drawings.

    They are tales or narrative poems, that cross boundaries
    but no matter the classification they probably attract lots of readers
    by the coloquial way the lyric voice speaks. There is much honesty related to the task of sharing the motivations of the author with the Readers. For example about sex, success in life, being in love, all of these pass for a period of creative work, as he says when his neighbor heard him typing all night.

    These are a selection of free verse, of epic stories of bar or cantina that are the very style of the great Charles Bukowski, at some times raw, cruel, aggressive but in tune with his whole ethos or personality.

  • Jonathan – Arizona said:

    You’re incredible vignette of original Charles Bukowski poetry and artwork as astounding, and if nothing else comes of this application I will be glad to have read through that today.

  • J said:

    This is interesting if for no other reason than that he is a favorite author of mine.

  • Garrick – Arizona said:

    I liked the Bukowski bits.

  • Alex Scandalios -- Editor said:


    To the best of my knowledge, these poems first appeared in my magazine. The drawings were a gift from him to me. I no longer remember what book they may have been reprinted in. Perhaps you could Google that information. Most of his work was published by Black Sparrow Press.

    Thank you for asking – Alex

  • Tom – Florida said:

    He’s my favorite poet. I hadn’t actually read any of those poems that were posted on your site. What books are they from? I also have to mention how interesting his drawings are. I know he has illustrated a couple covers for his books, but I honestly haven’t seen too many of his drawings. They’re so minimalist, yet they speak volumes about his psyche.

  • Chris said:

    I got a real kick out of reading the article by Charles Bukowski. Bukowski is a real inspiration to me. The man had such a hard life, although, let’s face it, he was hard on himself. Despite this, he never stopped writing, never stopped persevering and it paid off for him when Black Sparrow press took him up and he was propelled to the literary superstardom that he deserved. Bukowski seemed like a hopeless case, stuck working as a postal clerk and with a serious drinking problem but he did find success through hard work.

  • Sean – California said:

    I was pretty surprised to see poem by Bukowski and even more surprised to read his letter to you. He actually sounded pretty drunk in that letter. Boy, a messy man but at the same time pretty inspirational. “Roll the Dice” remains one of my all-time favorite poems.

  • Aki -- Barcelona said:

    Bukowski is as important a winner as any with regards to
    literary significance.

  • Nick -- Pennsylvania said:

    What immediately caught my eye was this article about Charles Bukowski, a personal poetry/pulp-fiction hero. I could talk all day about Bukowski. His dark yet simple and striking approach to writing was a monumental inspiration to me as a writer. He’s one of the reason I still host a poetry blog.

  • Gemma said:

    I really liked this. Theres a personal touch in form and expression, and I love to read first person narrative. You can hear the voice, the anger and the sadness, even the stupidity. I especially liked the first part where there are mistakes included as well, I think the visual really adds to the interpretation by the reader.

  • xenon light said:

    Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the great works guys Ive added you guys to my blogroll. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

  • yaniv -- Holland said:

    It’s funny how compared to others , i thought it is totally logical to put Charles Buckowsky as a winner within us , his unique drunken writing gets its form by being written in such a real manner .
    When i first read Buckowsky i felt like he’s hearing the way i think , and copying the grammar of my thoughts.

    not to mention his amazing achievement as an american poet ,that can only succeed in such a way by being so true to his emotion and so devoted to a certain way of life.

    p.s. the photocopy of his Curriculum is amazing , iv’e never seen it before , and it only shows how humble he was.

  • Malerie -- England said:

    The forum is a brighter place thnkas to your posts. Thanks!

  • Jennifer J -- New Brunswick said:

    At first I couldn’t understand why this was on the site. Then it hit me. His work is displayed here because, despite his addictions, his mannerisms, and critics, Charles still managed to create something unique and unforgettable. It must have been hard suffering and living in self-induced torment, and yet still finding the will to create. I love the variety of this site.

  • Travona -- Louisiana said:

    Charles Bukowski writings illustrate the thoughts and perception of the world from a trouble man, but his work seems familiar to that of Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe? Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe are notoriously famous for writing about dark mysterious plots and creating an illusion of trouble characters. With stories like The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, you can clearly see the similarities. Giving the big idea that Charles inspiration came from two extraordinary writers, but unlike Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain, his writings lack captivating certain audiences and imagination.

  • Steven -- Canada said:

    This piece took me by surprise. The inclusion of Charles Bukowski in a magazine that promotes itself as “Winners Within Us™ ” shook all the logic out of me. It demonstrates your magazine’s wide range of subject matter. Bukowski is more often referred to as a drunk and a womanizer than a “winner within us.” Generalizations aside, he is a perfect example of how to be clear and concise. He wrote from the tip of his brain and avoided all the sugar coatings and exaggerations that accompany so many novels, poems, and articles.

    The Bukowski article is actually not an article at all. I like the fact that the letter and poem are simply there with no commentary. It’s as if there is nothing to say about a man who was so loved. His very words say it all. On the other hand, there must be something new to say about him and since the magazine chose to honor him, someone could have done some digging. As an example, how about an original poem or prose piece merging one of Bukowski’s works with the neighborhoods (in Germany and Los Angeles) where he grew up and developed…. like a living writer hanging out with the ghostly muse of Bukowski’s past. With a little more time and a plane ticket to either Los Angeles or the town in Germany where he was born, I would gladly take a stab at it.
    Maybe the fact that Bukowski unintentionally spoke on behalf of the working man, the poem could be written while working in a factory or better yet, while delivering mail to hundreds and hundreds of winners within us.

  • Augustinos -- Greece said:

    I have surfed across your online magazine in the past and am already familiar with its general content. What had initially attracted my attention was your profile of Charles Bukowski in 2008. I am partial to writers who express themselves with humanity and Bukowski excels at that.

  • Mary Anne from New Jersey said:

    I like that the website had lots of variety and was surprised to see one of my favorite writers, Charles Bukowski on the site.

  • Tamara S -- Missouri said:

    I visited winnerswithinus.com and immediately clicked on Arts & Literature. I love people pursuing their passions in arts and music, so I am attracted to that section of your site! I then gravitated toward this, Charles Bukowski: Ordinary Madness, Poetry and Drawings. I liked that you had his collection published in blog format. I love supporting the dreams and musings of others, and I’m always inspired by their individual creativity. It simply lights me on fire to see another person’s passion and to hear them talk about it.

    While looking through Mr. Bukowski’s work, I was struck by his drawings. They are very abstract and, though cartoon-ish, somehow dark. Especially the one above “trouble in the night…” I also enjoyed this particular poem. I like the line “they play it as I sit here naked / as a pink pig sucking / on this wine.” What an original use of words!

    I very much enjoy poetry, art, music, and all other kinds of human expression! All of the vastly different ways of expression are so fascinating to me.

  • Nosipho said:

    I also enjoyed the hilarious typed letter of Charles Bukowski: Ordinary Madness, Poetry and Drawings. I guess as a writer I could relate to the letter with its wry sense of humour.

  • Nosipho Kota said:

    Did someone really write that typed letters with errors. I like the way the person who wrote it, expresses himself. Somehow I think of him as a male. I could be wrong. But it is beautiful. There’s intrigue. You want to reach and get to know him. This mysterious writer with all these strange observations of life. Well done.

  • Augustos -- Greece said:

    I am in Greece where I have surfed across your online magazine in the past and am already familiar with its general content. What had initially attracted my attention was your profile of Charles Bukowski in 2008. I am partial to writers who express themselves with humanity and Bukowski excels at that.

  • Timothy said:

    I’m a big fan of Bukowski’s poems and short stories as well as his pseudo-self derived character, Henry Chinaski. So It was nice to see that you all recognize a fella like him. He deserves it.

  • TS -- Pennsylvania said:

    Your celebration of Charles Bukowski, feels a little out of place but was much appreciated.

  • Stephanie said:

    I enjoyed your articles and was tickled by your Bukowski entry. I’ve read every Bukowski book out there and my favorite is “Ham on Rye.” We have every one of his books

  • Ayla said:

    I love that you have Bukowski on here. I am a fan of his work and his style. His crude, almost primitively angry insights on those around him have always made me laugh in a strange way, and he has his own class of inspiration. His presence of mind (or sometimes lack thereof) is interesting.

  • Carla L said:

    I liked your Bukowski tribute page. It seems incredible that he was in the middle of writing /Ham on Rye /when his letter was addressed. Bukowoski’s art is very cocktail napkiny.

    take care,


  • Matt said:

    I have never read Bukowski, but after reading the Bukowski post I plan to. I have always heard a lot about him and I just figured I would get around to reading him whenever. But thanks to your article that may be sooner than later.

  • Jocelyn said:

    Ahh, Charles… what a guy. I remember him well. He did not treat his wife well. I would visit her sometimes in San Pedro… he was narcissistic, abusive, drunk, smelled bad, BUT what a genius. It seemed the worse he treated people the more they’d come around. Here’s to you Charles B, may you rest in peace.

  • Mike Lemense said:

    I do indeed like what I see on the web site and I appreciate the notion that so many people can be following the same spiritual path through so many seemingly divergent ways of living. Bukowski in particular caught my eye and he’s always appealed to me as a truly compassionate heart caught in a lugubrious cycle of hesitation and worry that to show compassion in this cold world where so many simulate the appearance of compassion for personal gain would be to join the very thing he opposes.

  • twilfrd said:

    What an interesting, uplifting and fun publication! My favorite aspect must be Charles Bukowski. I love his writings; every reading gives the reader a new and different experience.

  • SteveC said:

    I enjoyed the Charles Bukowski article very much.

  • rudydep said:

    I was brought to this website by a craigslist posting. Glad it happened.
    Seeing Charles’ face on the homepage took me back to my years of intense struggle to make a living in the arts field.

    My emotions seemed to transport me back in time to a place when tomorrows were to painful to except.

    Thanks for taking me back.

    I think I’m going to like this website.

  • gerryl said:

    Anyone with Charles Bukowski on main page is a friend of mine. He is often criticized for his bleak outlook and vulgar language. But I’ve been reading his books for over 25 years, and I believe there’s more humanity in his art than other writers who claim to celebrate the human spirit.

  • nicksands said:

    I am a big fan of Buk’s. He set the example for the genre known as “Easy Poetry” — not that it was easy to write but that it used everyday language and imagery as the medium. He is the father of this movement and one of its most powerful writers. You are so lucky to have known him.

  • MangenJ said:

    What more can I say then I love the content on the site. It was really awesome to read Bukowski’s work. Good job keep up the great work.

  • maryan said:

    I love your online magazine, Winners Within Us. I was very pleased to see one of my favorites, Charles Bukowski!

  • jimmyk said:

    I have checked out your site and very much liked the content you have on here, especially this Charles Bukowski piece.

  • jameso said:

    I’m confused. Your website touts that you “celebrate the best in us” but right smack in the middle of your site I see a picture of my favorite degenerate, Buke the Puke. Though Bukowski’s work is legendary, his lifestyle seems incongruent with the underlying theme of your publication.

    Regardless, I enjoy his work and any publication that can see through the boozy haze that defined his life is the kind of publication I would like to be part of.

    Like Bukowski, I have a horribly tedious job that keeps me in food and grog, but does little for my spirit. Up to this point I have lived an exciting life that has taken me from Hong Kong to Cape Canaveral and many exotic locales in between. I find myself in Alaska now, working at a radio station and trying to find a profitable way to share my experiences. Please advise how I can go about writing for your magazine

  • karmag said:

    Hi, checked out your site. Haven’t searched much yet but was happy to see Bukowski feature. Look forward to finding out more about your publication.

  • michae said:

    I love how purely positive your site is! And as a Bukowski fan, I was instantly struck by the letter. Fantastic.

  • thaddy said:

    I enjoyed seeing Chuck on your site. His
    writing honestly made me happy. The truth does not hurt.

  • sierrar said:

    I really enjoyed the Bukowski work you have posted here. I was hoping you would do an artist.

  • adv said:


    I seldom hear his name anymore, much less see him paid honor on a website dedicated to the winning spirit in men. I think to truly honor ourselves we cannot as religion has taught us for so long, hide the darkness back in the hidden recesses of our culture and our minds, but each and everyday we must step forward into it, glare it in the eye and tell it to go to hell, and only then can we truly be masters of ourselves.

    I think Bukowski did that everyday, and more importantly he didn’t always win, but he kept doing it anyway. Alot of men do that, Bukowski was good enough to let us watch some of that so very human struggle, and for that, we are in his debt.

    Great site Alex

  • kolson said:

    Huge Bukowski fan.

  • Pagesh said:

    A friend forwarded your magazine to the other day and Bukowski pulled me in. The likes of him, Hunter Thompson, Kerouac, Poe Ballantine, they always get me. I need the irreverence, the writing from eye level with the asphalt, from the dirt and trash of truth that punches humanity’s gut and rises up like indigestion to the heart of truth.

    I’ve a big place for the Wayne Dyers, the Eckhart Tolles, the Rhonda Byrneses of the world, too. They’re why I’m writing this now, why I quit eighteen years of working for MCI all the way from its hay day through the WorldCom fiasco right up to being bought by Verizon in 2006.

    I’ve never needed it more, like the world has never needed WinnersWithinUs more. I know of is no one who wouldn’t agree it’s time for change all the way around.

  • Garth Vader said:

    I just came across your website. I looked at your site and was totally won over as soon as I saw your tribute to Bukowski. What a guy!

  • salembev said:

    When I was fifteen I lived in Florida and wore gloves and wore a hat to church. I was a closet hippy even though I read “Sonnets to the Portuguese,” “Hamlet,” and “Silas Mariner.” In between I read Charles Bukowski because all the best literature was in my father’s Playboy Magazine or in the bookstore at Harvard, which is where I splurged for Bukowski’s poetry. It was off the wall then, contradicted my staid upbringing, and secretly turned me into a wanton women. No man killed himself over me, though many cried. And, I still adore Bukowski’s work. He is an intrepid, gut wrenching, earth shattering, tell it like it is writer. Even now, today, in our time, his words ring so true. We have only begun to catch up, to understanding, and to accept his work because our eyes are more easily opened to truths, and perhaps now we finally believe. Bravo for unburying a dead poet who will never be dead as long as someone like you excites us to go back into time and revisit an artist’s words that tell it like it is.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS. Be nice, keep comments clean, stay on topic, and please - no spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar. Don't fret, if you choose not to a fractal Identicon derived from your email address will be generated for you.