There are sooo many, an almost impossible task, but I'll try. They come and go, affected by moods and as you grow older and understand lines that you didn't when you were younger. The top few, though, will probably never change:
Face While Shaving
Poem for My 43rd Birthday
A Drawer of Fish
For Jane, With All the Love I Had Which Was Not Enough
Plea to a Passing Maid
It is known, that when Abel was in the process of collecting his "Essential Bukowski", he asked some of us about our opinions for a top-10-list.
Here's what he got from me (including my original annotations then):
- Old Man Dead In A Room
- The Tragedy Of The Leaves
These two belong together (for me) and are the essence of one-third of his whole life (ca 1939-1964)
- The Crunch
"people are not good to each other" – need I say more?
- Dinosauria, We
This one may be obvious as a candidate due to its reception in the public. But it IS an important and valid statement on humanity and the state of mankind from Bukowski's pov, (which I do share concerning the matter).
- Don't Come Round
His need for solitude, in the sense of keeping THE WORLD out, has been articulated many times. This poem is my favorite way of him to tell it. It adds a quality to the subject that the others don't have.
- Beasts Bounding Through Time
He's always been a master of namedropping. And a master of declaring grief. This one combines it.
- The Miracle
Just the other side of the very poem before. The positive side.
- How Is Your Heart
I truly loved the line "what matters most is how well you walk through the fire" from day one, far before a book was named after it. (this first time I've read it was in the German version and it was around 1991.)
For me, this is the most moving Jane-poem of them all.
- Forget It
Of all his poems about his own (physical) death, this one is the sure bet for tears. At least in my case it was. I've read it (amongst others) on March 10, 1994 right after the news arrived here and I even started shaking when I came to reading this one crying. It's definitely the final poem for a collection.
Great list, Roni. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on each. I'd like to do that with mine, but not sure I can articulate the reasons to my satisfaction. Hard to explain why they cause certain feelings.
Re Remains: yes, I've always like this one, too. When I was younger, that first line rolled around in my head for a long while. Older now, still just as valid. It's a mantra for getting through tough times.