Pull Me Through The Temples, Pull Me Through The Wine - Targets 4, 1960 (1 Viewer)


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Originally published in TARGETS 4 [aka Signature #1] (December 1960), p. 18.

Uncollected as of 2006.

"...the smoke curls the harlot's beard between her legs,..." - what an image! LOL:D - thanks for posting this...
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I dunno, this one doesnt seem to flow so good. Maybe I'm just too sober to read it. I'll give it another try tomorrow.

but thanks nontheless
"the terrible urgency of sunshine" Jesus Christ, when people write about Buk's writing it is unfortunate that they play on the drinking, whoring and fighting side when he had such an affinity toward surrealism and the avant garde, as demonstrated in this poem- So strange yet so straightforward and unpretentious.
I couldn't agree more Paul. The superficial appreciation of Buk is what bugs me most about some of his followers - present company definitely excluded!
Very few of anyone's poetry does anything for me. There's only one of Buk's I think of off the top of my head that does it (and I can't even remember the name). I think there's a thread way down that has it.
I couldn't agree more Paul. The superficial appreciation of Buk is what bugs me most about some of his followers - present company definitely excluded!

The superficial appreciation of Bukowski is the result of his last 8 or 10 books - which should never have seen the light of day. Terrible poetry - not even poetry: chopped up "gab" prose. I blame John Martin & the editor of Ecco for allowing these "non poems" to be published.

At the twilight of Buk's life & career, John Martin accepted & published virtually EVERYTHING! ECCO followed suit with Buk's posthumous non-poetry. If the other Jon [Edgar Web] was still editing Buk's later work, virtually NONE of these twilight poems would have ever hit the bookshelves. The general public - or anyone with a poetic bent who reads this later stuff - and who doesn't make the effort to read Bukowski's fabulous earlier poetry - will come away from the readings with a bad taste and a superficial (wrong) opinion about Bukowski's poetry. That combined with Bukowski's media-driven larger-than life persona as a two-fisted drunken womanizer just adds to the superficiality.

When I was editor of THE SOLE PROPRIETOR magazine in the mid-1970s, I once received a submission from Bukowski. The poems were so bad that they were returned to him faster than a meteorite on its way to hell. It saddens me that John Martin couldn't be more selective in what he accepted & rejected for Buk's later books. Most of his later book of poems never went through the fire of a small press lit mag editor, but went directly from Buk's typer into published book format.

On another subject: I was reading a thread about where a Buk poem (or poems) from the 1940s appeared in an amateur poetry magazine called WRITE. When I was researching my Checklist , I had seen the 20 Tanks ref. but doubt there are any surviving extant copies for the following reason: Small Press Poetry Mags from the 1940s are rare to begin with - and an Amateur publication from this decade to have survived is just about impossible. The reason MATRIX, EPOS, etc with Buk poems survived is because they were long - standing either from prior years (Matrix) or continued on to become long-standing.

{EPOS which began in the late 40's & continued into the 1960s became the longest (in terms of issues) small press mag in existence. I at one time had a COMPLETE RUN of this mag that I purchased from one of the former co-editors, Evenyn Thorne, when I visited her wilderness retreat in the late 1970s.}

And finally, I don't know if any of you Buk fans know this but when I was collecting Bukowski, I had a fabulous typewritten letter from NORMAN MAILER (late 1970s..& subsequently stolen!) wherein he lavishly PRAISED BUKOWSKI! I never made a photocopy but I'll always remember a line that Mailer wrote (speaking about the Buk):


I'm certain Mailer was referring to Buk's earliest (& best!) works.
Wow niceguy - that's not very nice ;)

You raise some interesting points but I disagree with your first assumption that the superficial appreciation of Buk is somehow based on the last 8 - 10 books. The whole "media-driven larger-than life persona as a two-fisted drunken womanizer" goes back to Open City/ Erections Ejaculations days. And even this was a persona created and nurtured by Buk himself.

Why do so many editors/lit folk have a thing against John Martin?

As for "At the twilight of Buk's life & career, John Martin accepted & published virtually EVERYTHING!" - thank christ for that - let history sort out the good, great and worthless poetry - I want to read what was written and the less editing (other than by Buk himself) that gets in the way, the better as far as I'm concerned.

It sure is a shit that your Mailer letter was stolen!
ROC is right - the drunken womanizer image was created way back and in great part by Buk himself. It did'nt come about as a result of the posthumous New Poems editions. Whether they have enhanced the image or not is hard to tell. Personally, I think Barfly has played a big part in keeping the image alive (and to make Buk a household name)...
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to me in the later books it seems like there is about one really good poem out of about 15 bad. but the "bad" ones always seem to have something full of life in them that makes them worth the read. so - if i ever see mr. mailer (i never really could read him) ill have to tell him that he knew what he was talking about when he was talking about bukowski.

...his last 8 or 10 books...Terrible poetry--not even poetry..."non poems"
But what do you really think of the later books, Mr. Fogel?

I have to tell you, man, "through the fire of a small press lit mag editor" made me laugh. If you sample the Bukowski poems in the hundreds of non-academic rags and zines from the late 70's on, it's quite obvious that most of them would print absolutely anything he sent ("John? You're not going to believe what I just got in the mail - Bukowski poems!"). Even Malone put some shit poems into wormwood. You seem to be dismissing all of that.

As for a copy of Write surviving being "just about impossible," all we need to see is one, so just about impossible is fine. If you think about what an amateur literary magazine is, it's extremely unlikely that all copies are forever lost. An amateur being published is a very big deal to that amateur, and they would have squirreled that magazine away and kept it forever. If it exists, a copy is out there.
As we all know, there's at least a copy of a previous issue of Write (was it from 1940?) in one of the US college libraries, so there might be more issues somwhere.

as to the posthumous books being worse than the early poetry, that's the eternal discussion of early vs. late poetry. in this case, though, we have to very careful. The Days and Mockingbird belong to to the early poetry for sure, and The Last Night and You Get So Alone to the late poetry, but the posthumous books are more confusing as they contain both early and late poems. I always thought Martin should have dated the poems which appear in the posthumous collections, but he consciously refused to do so.
However, thanks to databases and personal efforts, it's kind of easy to date most poems. For example, the "new" collection of poems The People Look Like has over 25 poems from the 60's. Some people have said the poems are shitty, even if they're from the 60's and they belong to the early poetry some OTHER people -and even the SAME people- love so much.

Come to think of it, Martin did a wise move when not dating the poems! People say: "I hate late poetry, the true Bukowski is to be found in the early poetry". Then a book like The People Look Like comes along and the same people say: "What a shitty collection of new poems, much worse than his early poetry". Which is a paradox because many poems belong to the early poetry. Of couse, they can say those were "leftovers" or something, but that's not the case. As we know, B never chose which poems would appear in a given book, that was Martin's decision from day one.
Hello Cirerita: I haven't read "The People Look Like ..." so there might be some quality poems in there, esp. if they are from the 1960s when the Buk was at the height of his poetic prowess. But as a general perception, it's the fault of myopic Buk ass-kissing editors that most of his bad non-poems (most don't even qualify as quality prose-poems) get published.

Yes, even Malone was guilty of accepting virtually everything that Buk sent his way. 70% of all of Buk's poems (from all of his books) are simply inferior poetry that should never have been accepted and printed. Easily created & easily forgotten. But - thank god - for every 50 long forgotten, there is that gem that you will never forget; etched in your memory forever.

And guess what: interspersed among some of the letters that Buk sent to recipients over the decades (not published in any of his Black Sparrow letters collections) were some GREAT POEMS that you will probably never read!!

{unless these poems from obscure letters (and recipients) somehow surface & subsequently get published. For example, when I was collecting Bukowski, I purchased 40 letters/correspondence from the 1960s that Bukowski had sent to an admirer (his name eludes me) who had helped him financially thru some difficult times. Many of the letters from the Buk began "thanks for the fiver.." I wish I had made photocopies because among these letters were some great Bukowski poems!!! This would be a great project for some Buk-detective : hunt down some of Buk's unpublished letters, extract the poems therefrom, have someone edit & publish them. There certainly will be some memorable gems among them. You can start with trying to find out who bought the 40 letters that I made reference to (all I know is they were among the collection I sold to the CA dealer "Joe The Pro" (Joseph-The-Provider) back in the early 1980s. If someone is able to locate these letters, I'm sure there are a handful of poetic gems scattered among them.}

I'm curious niceguy... How do you define a great Bukowski poem and what are the specific differences between it and what you term a non-poem.
What are the parameters for such a distinction and are there poems that are not quite great but not quite non-poems and so forth? Is it a clear and constant distinction? Is it just (or mainly) his stuff from the 60s that you like?

Also, is it ideal that editors choose what they think is great and 'protect' us from the 'shit'? Wouldn't a riskier but ultimately more rewarding scenario be to print the known output of an author and let the interested parties decide for themselves what was good and what wasn't?

By your logic, instead of the last 8-10 books, we would have one or two books and we would be spared the horror of making up our own minds re the quality of the remaining stuff.

Sounds like a Bush-style democracy to me.
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Al and ROC,

I think there's no sense in defining what's good/bad poetry by B. We would spend hours and hours and probably would never agree.
Sometimes I feel like, Al, thinking, "Jesus, what a bunch of crappy poems". There are MANY weak poems in the posthumous books, but also in the earlier BSP books, though maybe not that many.
Al's right: most editors would print virtually anything B would send them, ANYTHING! As always, thas has two or more readings: it's good because we get to read good ol' B, no matter how crappy the poems might be, and it's bad because the poems just don't hold up.

B himself admitted as much once and again. Of course, you have to take his words with a grain of salt, but he consciously knew a lot of shit was flowing from his typer.

...this year I must have written 15 new poems, a novel and maybe 30 short stories. now this stuff is not excellent but some of it is - sometimes I think I am just fucking away everything but the typer keeps doing it. and it comes out easy. tons and tons of shit. my machinegun sure - tattattattat a a tattutuetuetutattutattu...
Luck, 109

Have written a hundred and ten poems in the last two weeks, a few of the are shit; 7 or 8 of them are immortal
Luck, 194

I write a lot of shit. Almost intentionally, I write a lot of shit, to keep me going, and much of it is not good, but it keeps me exercising... I'd say that seventy-five percent of what I write is good; forty, forty-five percent is excellent; ten percent is immortal, and twenty-five percent is shit. Does it add up to one hundred?
Bizio, 34 [also Calonne, 176]
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Well, this is a forum dedicated to the work of Charles Bukowski, so if someone feels they have the skinny on what constitutes a good or crap poem, I would like to hear it and, surely, this would be the place for such opinions to be expressed.

I would just like to understand Als position better. I don't see a reason to throw cold water on the discussion, as long as we can be civil. And it needn't take hours and hours... just a few minutes.

So what, in your opinion Al, constitutes a crap poem?
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It would be pointless knowing what Fogel or Martin or cirerita or they guy who bags your groceries considers a good or bad poem, and pointless to argue whether one period of Bukowski's life produced work superior to another. It doesn't matter.

By letting (almost) everything through you leave it up to the reader to decide. Someone who thinks the posthumous books are genius is right. Just like someone who thinks he never wrote a good poem after 1968. Both right. It's art, and whether it's good or bad is subjective, period.

People with university literary educations - here's where I alienate half the forum members, I suppose - tend to give more weight and validity to things that are obtuse and impossible to understand. Same goes with an art education, a film education, you name it.

If you don't understand a film or a book or a piece of art, you can bet there are hundreds of people with very important degrees crawling over each other to praise it. They don't understand it either, but while they were in school they learned how to say clever things that make it appear that they understand everything.

What bothers these people is that Bukowski wrote poems that they can dissect and critique and write thoughtful essays full of words you have to look up in the dictionary about, but he also wrote many, many poems that they don't know what to do with.

The plain, clear language confuses them. Where are the metaphors and the semaphores and the pinafores?! What the fuck is this shit?! So they say, "Bukowski's work after <stick any random year in here> is not poetry, it is merely typing! Only simpletons and hillbillies could take pleasure in such rubbish!"

The fact is, poetry has an audience, at least in America, that would fit into a teacup, and great sales for a book of poetry are in the 1,000 to 2,000 copies area. That's a fucking poetry blockbuster for virtually every poet out there. The reason for this minuscule audience is glaringly obvious as soon as you open one of these books. A regular, normal, average person cannot appreciate them.

Bukowski wrote a lot of poetry that appeals to people who hate or ignore all other poetry. If you want to say all those poems are shit, then you are saying everyone who loves them is an idiot, which only proves that you are an elitist, and probably an unbearable asshole as well. And you smell bad.

Yeah, I know these are all generalizations, but prove me wrong. ;)


There is an independent poetry underground that has been percolating for years, but that's not who I'm talking about here. Their audience is even smaller than the university press poets. For now. But things could change, couldn't they?
But I wasn't thinking of you! Ha ha. It's not about Fogel either (I don't know him), it's just a general rant.
Bukowski wrote a lot of poetry that appeals to people who hate or ignore all other poetry. If you want to say all those poems are shit, then you are saying everyone who loves them is an idiot, which only proves that you are an elitist, and probably an unbearable asshole as well. And you smell bad.

:D once again mjp gets to heart of the matter.
Hello ROC: A crap poem is one that is constipated, doesn't flow with any rhythmic meter, no outstanding metaphors, no moving images (or interesting contrasting images beautifully compressed) no memorable lines, etc.

No "days when children say funny & brilliant things / like savages trying to send you a message through their bodies / while their bodies are still live enough to transmit, to feel, to run up & down without locks, without paychecks..without beetle-like opinions!" {something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery clerks and you}

No "violets coming out of the ground / telling you to forget dead armies & the loves that robbed you" {something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery clerks and you} etc etc.

The bad poetry just doesn't flow, not enough compression, not enough creative movement... crappy... constipated.

The nice thing with Bukowski is that when his poetic ability began to wane, his prose began to shine. Nice transition that most poets couldn't attain. His Erection shorts contain (as a whole) some of the finest modern shorts ever created... some crap, too.

So I guess Bukowski's output was so prodigious in every artistic medium that we are forced to flip through the crap to get to the cream.

i hate metaphors. i hate similes. they must be used - sparingly. far apart. they are too easy. "a rose is like a hammer beneath the noon sun" - i just made that up. someone might think that's cool. its bullshit. maybe. anyway - i hate the letter "s" because so often poets use it - accident? - it just slips in and takes over. you got to be careful. read paul celan. he surgically removes the bullshit. so did bukowski when he was great - i think. all letters of any alphabet should be observed and noted. we don't need to beat the reader over the head with the fact that they are reading immortal poesy.

To most people, and I'm certain to everyone on this site, these two sentences are a prime example of bloated writing:

I chanced to meet in the room while Miss Wardour was complaining with some warmth of the manner in which Mr. Claud and Mr. Eustace were thrusting their society up on her. I felt that in the circumstances it might be excusable if I suggested a slight ruse to enable her to dispense with their attentions.

I love it. It's P.G. Woodhouse's man-servant Jeeves. It's fluff, I know, but the way the words flow, excessive as they may be are, to me, a joy to read. There's something to be said for the clean lines of a Hemmingway or Bukowski, but if done property, there's plenty of room for expansive writing. That goes for prose or poetry.
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there are plenty of things that I don't understand, but like, for various reasons; Finnegan's Wake (I'm not going to pretend I know what the hell is going on here, but the flow of the language is hypnotic, in it's own fashion), Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor (noise or music, I don't care, I likes it!), ask me to explain Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles...can't do it, but I love looking at it.
anyway, you get the point.
my university degree had nothing to do with art, literature, etc., at least not my major. all the big artsy fartsy words I know I cribbed from poptop. I just recently found out what pomo means (thanks to this forum).
similies and metaphors are not easy, if done properly. but yes, they should be used sparingly.
bottom line, because I love buk, it doesn't mean I'm going to throw out my Samuel Beckett books, and vice versa.
well, I just thought I'd post here, because all I've been doing round these parts lately is listing my favourite cover songs...gotta prove I belong here occassionally...and this isn't meant to be an angry post, if it comes off that way, I apologise.
off to listen to some Ornette Coleman and masturbate to the dirty parts in Joyce's Ulysses.....
People like what they like and define things later to suit themselves.
You can even suspect something is crap and still love it - what did Nietzsche say about the necessary not being contingent on truth?

Ornette also plays the trumpet and violin - badly - but I still love his music.
Cecil Taylor recites horrible, mumbling poetry - but he's still a crazy genius.

Bukowski wrote some shit, but one in ten, one in fifty? Who's to say?

It's when people talk as if they have the monopoly on the truth that I start to worry.
Like we even know what truth is!
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whenever i am reading a poem - and suddenly it becomes obvious that what i am reading is supposed to be a poem - i notice the repeated use of certain letters or words like "like" - or any and all of the "tricks" - when i see this obviousness occuring it makes me ill, and i turn the page or go on with something else. "my love is like a red red rose..." - once said, needs not be said again. i am for avoiding the sideshow antics unless, perhaps, those antics are used to prove some point - or, possibly, in a new and original way. otherwise - i just want to hear the voice of the writer im reading come through - i dont want all his or her high learning and creative writing classes clogging up the stanzas. i dont think im going out on a limb here saying this. it seems pretty much to be what bukowski talks about. am i not getting my point across? same thing goes with movies and paintings and all the other arts. i just hate bullshit. das ist alles.

ending a rant against bullshit with a foreign phrase just smacks of bullshit.
People with university literary educations - here's where I alienate half the forum members, I suppose - tend to give more weight and validity to things that are obtuse and impossible to understand.
Whoop-tee-do, I have a degree in Literature. I had a professor that once told an entire class, "If it don't move ya, move on."
What moves me is obivously not gonna always move you or you or even my mother.
What is a shitty poem? One that reeks of nothing. No emotion, no raw intensity, no blood and guts, no screaming from the deep untold dark places in your bulletridden soul. To me anyway.

Every writer has the "shits". The greatest do and the unknown do. You do and I do.

You can compare poems from different times, years, books side-by-side and say this is better and this line is great and this line sucks. The discussion afterward is the key. Why does that line speak to me and not to you?

Metaphors and allegories and all the tricks of the trade aside ... "If it don't move ya, move on."

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