climbing back up out of the ooze, out of
the thick black tar,
rising up again, a modern
you're amazed at your good
somehow you've had more
than your share of second
hell, accept it.
what you have, you have.
you walk and look in the bathroom
at an idiot's smile.
you know your luck.
some go down and never climb back up.
something is being kind to you.
you turn from the mirror and walk into the
you find a chair, sit down, light a cigar.
back from a thousand wars
you look out from an open door into the silent
Sibelius plays on the radio.
nothing has been lost or destroyed.
you blow smoke into the night,
tug at your right
baby, right now, you've got it
Bukowski's unmistakable persona an ex-down-and-outer who wrote of racetracks, booze and loneliness in ragged, self-confident, free verse made him one of the country's most popular poets long before he died in 1994; 11 years later, death has not slowed down his production. This ninth posthumous volume of new verse (following Slouching Toward Nirvana closely) gathers everything devotees cherish and expect: horses and bets, lousy SROs, unreliable women, sexual conquests, sexual disgust, barbs at highbrow rivals, advice to so-called losers (as he once was) to have confidence in themselves (as he did) and a befuddled acceptance of late fame. "Welcome to my wormy hell," the first line in the volume reads, and similar notes of not-quite-comic self-pity occur throughout, as when "the x-bum" reminds himself "that there was no bottom to life." These poems differ little from those in his other late volumes and may not win him many new fans: given the size of his existing following, however, this book won't need new ones.