Fire Station (1 Viewer)

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
So what is it about this poem? Every time I read or hear it, I find myself wondering: Is it really a good poem? Usually I like Buk's long narrative poems, but this one always leaves me sort of empty. There's something about it, something obvious, hard, cynical and sad. There's something about it that doesn't ring true, somehow. Buk pimping the true love of his life out to a bunch of healthy fireman good boys? Come on!

The central metaphor (pardon the jargon) with Jane swinging down the pole seems too obvious to me. Buk seems to be playing up to his tough guy no feelings bad ass image here. Hamming it a bit, if you may. And then there's the dedication: "For Jane with love". With love?

This poem always leaves me wondering.
Or am I just taking it too seriously?;)
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
What is it he says in one of the segments of the Tapes, something like 'I thought I really had something - I did, I had lots of trouble.'

Love is a dog. From Hell.
 

mjp

Founding member
I have always read Fire Station as a complete fabrication. It never occurred to me that it could be a true story. As you point out, Erik, it takes obvious turns in places, and that obviousness has to be there to play off for the humor to work.
 
a pimp? Buk? no shit! ... wait a minute, his first published story.

in a sense, every writer is a pimp. "Forgive me. you have my soul, and I have your money."
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I have always read Fire Station as a complete fabrication. It never occurred to me that it could be a true story. As you point out, Erik, it takes obvious turns in places, and that obviousness has to be there to play off for the humor to work.

Exactly, it's pure fiction. Buk as hard-ass pimp. The real Bukowski was much more of a romantic. It would have bothered him having all those guys doing his girlfriend.

One of my favorite stories. It's classic.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
OK, mjp, good point on the humor. Seems to be the main strength of this piece, but it only brings out chuckles in me (I had 43 cents and nothing but time, sometimes I think Im a king, in spite of myself).

But what do you guys who think its pure fiction make of the dedication: For Jane B. with love. That sort of ruins it for me.

Can you imagine The Fiend being dedicated to Marina with love?
;-)

On the other hand this weird mix of humor and seeming sincerity (Daddy, youre the only man I love. I mean, really love) might be what gives the poem its staying power.

Buk obviously liked it reading so many times.

David: why, exactly, do you consider it a classic?
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
We know Jane would wander off with any man who offered her a drink or ten. Maybe that fact was the inspiration for Fire Station? The situation is almost the same, with Jane fucking a bunch of firemen without Buk knowing about it. At least that's what she thinks. But contrary to real life, Buk exploits the situation and makes money off it. So, for once, Buk has the last laugh.
 
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Here's Bukowski reading . It cuts off abruptly at the end. I seem to remember him making a comment about Jane after that particular poem. This comes from the Bellevue, WA, recording of 1970.

I have that particular tape, and it's one of the reasons I find Buk's readings hard to get into. He reads it so dryly, and I'd think that was part of his point on Fire Station; you know - is he being sarcastic or aloof or something else? In other words, make the reader or listener decide for themselves rather than being obvious about it.

Well, I would think that if Buk didn't read every other poem in that same voice (at least what I've heard). I get so much more from reading his stuff than I do listening to him, which is why I've always contended that I like Buk's readings just about as much as he said he did.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
[...] But what do you guys who think its pure fiction make of the dedication: For Jane B. with love. That sort of ruins it for me. [...]

David: why, exactly, do you consider it a classic?
On the dedication; maybe you're taking the story too seriously. I think perhaps he dedicated to her as a way of saying, "you were unfaithful but I loved you anyway." In the story, he makes money off of her whoring and has the last laugh. In real life, he obviously was hurt by her ways.

It's a classic because it's pure Bukowski humor, and only Buk could have written it.
 
No but I know where I am going for dinner tonight! I am very excited. Thanks for bringing it up. You know, it is a shame that I didn't know, I live close to the drive :)

I just checked the location. The Bukowski Restaurant is gone. The barkeep told me it is been three or four years now. Yeah, it is a bar now and the name is Charlatan.
 
We know Jane would wander off with any man who offered her a drink or ten. Maybe that fact was the inspiration for Fire Station? [...]
That's what I was thinking too. (haven't read it in a looong time, though.)

It doesn't matter if the happenings of the plot literally occured. It descripes some things that happend in this way or another and about Hanks feelings on this.

And how to make a humourous turn out of a sad situation - his speciality, as others mentioned before.

[...] perhaps he dedicated to her as a way of saying, "you were unfaithful but I loved you anyway." [...]
I would interpret it this way too.

It certainly is a sort of 'love-poem'.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
Hmmm, a love poem disguising its feelings as macho slapstick humor.
Hmmm. That does sound like classic Bukowski.
I must reluctantly admit you guys are winning me over here.
To my defence I have to say that I have always given Fire Station the benefit of my doubt.

But I DO have to disagree with Purple Stick though. I actually like the droll way Buk reads this poem. And listen to the effort he puts into Jane's lines ("Daddy, you're the only man I love, I mean really love") Buk's tone when he reads these lines supports Rekrab, Roni & others here when they point out that this actually IS a love poem. Hmmm.


It must be one of the strangest love poems ever written.

OK! I like it!


PS: the fact that Buk dedicated this poem to Jane "B", with a capital B, could support MJP's find that Buk actually did marry Jane at one point...
Jane Bukowski that is...
 
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Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
A fact based fantasy fabricated to create a humorous tale of financial gain in the midst of a heartbreaking situation. I enjoyed this poem every time I read it or hear it read.
 

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