Poem reference for the film "Bukowski: Born into This"

mjp

Founding member
John Dullaghan wrote this for the web site for the film. I get this question via email at least once a week, so I hope Mr. Dullaghan doesn't mind me reprinting his summary here...

Poems from Bukowski: Born into This

"dinosauria, we" can be found in the last book of poetry published in Bukowski's lifetime, The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). This audio reading was recorded by Bukowski in 1993, just a year before his death, but the video was shot years earlier in 1976, as Bukowski walked through his East Hollywood neighborhood. The poem can also be found in the 1993 collection Run with the Hunted.

"the shoelace" was written in the early seventies and first appeared in Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck, as well as the collection Run with the Hunted.

"oh yes," read by artist Michael Cano, particularly, seems to resonate with film audiences. It appears in the 1984 collection War All the Time.

"we ain't got no money, honey, but we got rain." This poem, read by Harry Dean Stanton, is from The Last Night of the Earth Poems and Run with the Hunted.

"torched-out," also read by Harry Dean Stanton, is from The Last Night of the Earth Poems.

"the nine horse." This is an example of the kind of poem Bukowski would often read for audiences. This particular poem was read by Bukowski in Vancouver (1979), and I am not aware if it has ever appeared in a collection. [NOTE: Unpublished, yes, but see the manuscript here. - mjp]

"the genius of the crowd." Considered one of his great early works, this poem, written in 1966, can be found in the Roominghouse Madrigals, a collection of Bukowski's early work. At first glance, it seems to be an attack on humanity at large. It might best be understood against the backdrop of Bukowski working nights at the post office among bosses and coworkers who didn't understand him and often - according to his and other accounts - disparaged him. The Genius of the Crowd was published as a small book in 1966; most of the copies were destroyed, and today it is one of the most prized Bukowski collectibles, selling for thousands of dollars. It's also in Run with the Hunted.

"the shower," which Bukowski cries while reading, is a poem about his relationship with ex-girlfriend Linda King. It appears in Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck (1972), dedicated to Linda King. The illustrations that appear throughout this reading are from Me and Your Sometimes Love Poems, a limited edition collection of poetry and drawings by both Bukowski and Linda King.

"the crunch," from Love is a Dog from hell (1976), is read by Bono. "the crunch" juxtaposes Bukowski's disappointment with the world with the conviction that we must find a better way. Appearing toward the end of the film, the poem concludes on a hopeful note, signaling the forthcoming mellowness of Bukowski's later years. It's also in Run with the Hunted.

"art," written in 1976, appears in Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit. The whole poem reads simply, "as the spirit wanes, the form appears." As John Martin explains, and as the title suggests, this poem speaks about an artist's approach to his or her work. It was included in the film, however, to show Bukowski's ability to capture a complex truth in just a few words. In my opinion, the poem can also be interpreted as an approach to all of life: As one's spiritual strength diminishes, the need for external things becomes ever greater - and vice versa. Also in Run with the Hunted.

"the bluebird" was chosen to close the film because of its emotional impact and because it doesn't try to sum up Bukowski's life in any definitive way. It does, however, speak of a lifelong Bukowski struggle: protecting an inner vulnerability with a tough coat of armor. While the Bukowski "myth" was perpetuated by fans and journalists, it seems to have been ultimately created and fueled - if often reluctantly - by Bukowski himself. "the bluebird" appears in The Last Night of the Earth Poems and Run with the Hunted.

Poems that appear in special features (DVD)

"roll the dice," read by Bono. From What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire - a spectacular collection of Bukowski's poetry. This is a later, philosophical poem, which sums up Bukowski's spirit of perseverance, gamble, integrity and faith in self. If Bukowski's life could be summed up in one poem, this might be it. Because it states so clearly what Bukowski did in his life, I refrained from including the poem in the movie, preferring to let the audience make the connection.

"the laughing heart," read by Tom Waits, appears in the posthumous collection, Betting on the Muse. Though its highly positive tone might seem rare for Bukowski, "the laughing heart" is a beautiful example of the gentleness Bukowski was able to feel, and express, by the end of his life. Many readers consider it one of Bukowski's all-time great poems, as do I.

"journal entry," read by Bukowski at home, appears in the collection of journal entries The Captain Is Out to Lunch, and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. Illustrated by R. Crumb, this book appeared after Bukowski's death. The final poems written in 1992 either have or will appear in posthumous Bukowski editions.
 

mjp

Founding member
mjp said:
The final poems written in 1992 either have or will appear in posthumous Bukowski editions.
I just noticed this line. I suspect the final poems were written in 1994, the year Bukowski died. I have a copy of a manuscript from 12/31/93 ("Richard Nixon shook my hand"), so unless that was his very last poem, I think it's safe to say that he wrote up into at least January of '94.

Anyone else have (or seen) later manuscripts?
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
"#1" was his last poem. It is also referred to as "My first fax poem". It was faxed to John Martin by Bukowski on 2/18/94 at 2:14pm, which was 18 days before Buk died. According to Martin, this is the LAST peom that Bukowski wrote.... It is a very short and touching poem....
 

cirerita

Founding member
yep, that's right. there's another "fax poem", but I think it's a different one from "My first fax poem".
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi,
This one goes:

#1

oh, forgive me For Whom the Bell Tolls,
oh, forgive me Man who walked on water,
oh, forgive me little old woman who lived in a shoe,
oh, forgive me the mountain that roared at midnight,
oh, forgive me the dumb sounds of night and day and death,
oh, forgive me the death of the last beautiful panther,
oh, forgive me all the sunken ships and defeated armies,
this is my first FAX POEM.
it's too late:
I have been
smitten.


I think that it has not been published, but I could be wrong...
Bill
 

cirerita

Founding member
I have an unpublished poem titled "FAX" in my files. I should take a look at it to see whether they're the same poem or not, but I doubt it.

anyway, maybe Martin is saving it up for the last book of poems.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
bukowskifilm.com said:
The final poems written in 1992 either have or will appear in posthumous Bukowski editions.
I think that here Dullaghan is refering to the poems that Bukowski reads in the 1992 Home Video segment. In the segment, Bukowski tells us that he is reading from

"Now This" the literary magazine of Princeton, New Jersey.

In this segment he reads:

8-29-91 10:55pm - Journal Entry (also appears in "The Captain Is Out To Lunch and The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship")

form letter (collected in "Come On In! New Poems")

the 8 count concerto (collected in "what matters most is how well you walk through the fire")

this moment (collected in "what matters most is how well you walk through the fire" [nb: in the video Bukowski calls this poem "forget it"]

The journal entry and form letter appear to be read from the Princeton mag while the 8 count concerto and this moment are read from manuscripts.
 

SamDusky

Founding member
bospress.net said:
#1

oh, forgive me For Whom the Bell Tolls,
oh, forgive me Man who walked on water,
oh, forgive me little old woman who lived in a shoe,
oh, forgive me the mountain that roared at midnight,
oh, forgive me the dumb sounds of night and day and death,
oh, forgive me the death of the last beautiful panther,
oh, forgive me all the sunken ships and defeated armies,
this is my first FAX POEM.
it's too late:
I have been
smitten.
I have to say, he still had it in full strength right up to the last. The spirit does not wane. Thanks for giving us the look thereof.

SD
 
hank solo said:
I think that here Dullaghan is refering to the poems that Bukowski reads in the 1992 Home Video segment. In the segment, Bukowski tells us that he is reading from
"Now This" the literary magazine of Princeton, New Jersey.
This is correct. I was the editor and publisher of NOW THIS. Buk published both of those in our magazine. The others were not printed by us. One lovely thing is that, as he is reading "Journal Entry 8-29-91," in the list of things he notes as being of importance, he says 'my wife'. He added this exporaneously to the journal entry as he performed for the camera -- it does not appear in the written entry. Just shows that, underneath it all, he was a caring guy who loved his wife and whose mind still worked fast enough to remember to keep her happy! He made that tape, or rather Linda did, for our first poetry reading held in Princeton. What a thrill to see it after all these years on the dvd. Cheers, buk. Thanks,Linda.
 
Two thoughts
I'm wondering if the Oh forgive me...I have been smitten is a reference/homage to an older text.
It reminds me of the type of thing Cyrano would say at death (but his last line if I recall used the word panache).

Second
To which definition does smitten refer?


-adjective
1. struck, as with a hard blow.
2. grievously or disastrously stricken or afflicted.
3. very much in love.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I watched 'Born Into This' again tonight, and it was bugging the fuck out of me not only that I couldn't place the (to my ears, relatively familiar) piano sonata used in the main titles and end credits, but that the credits themselves omitted mention of it (arrg!) Which, of course, sent me on a frantic google search so I could resolve the issue and be able to sleep. :)

So anyhow, not that I assume this is a burning question hereabouts, but it's Beethoven's 'piano sonata no.8 op.13 adagio cantabile,' also known as 'Pathetique.':

http://profile.imeem.com/70V5U/music/SSFASfb7/pathetique_movement/

Nighty night . . .
 
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