“they say that hell is crowded, yet" (1 Viewer)

Hello there!!

There is a very specific poem by Charles Bukowski that I am trying to get some more information on. (poem is below).

I have heard this poem titled "Lost" from "Burning in Water Drowning in Flame - pg. 160 from the 1974 Black Sparrow Press printing.

I have also seen it called "The Way it Is" from "Slouching Toward Nirvana" - pg. 210 - 2005

I have also seen it called "To Hell and back."

I am trying to find out the exact title and year of this poem, as well as in what book I might be able to find it in print.

Any help is MUCH appreciated!

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you!

“they say that hell is crowded, yet,
when you’re in hell,
you always seem to be alone.
& you can’t tell anyone when you’re in hell
or they’ll think you’re crazy
& being crazy is being in hell
& being sane is hellish too.

those who escape hell, however,
never talk about it
& nothing much bothers them after that.
I mean, things like missing a meal,
going to jail, wrecking your car,
or even the idea of death itself.

when you ask them,
“how are things?”
they’ll always answer, “fine, just fine…”
once you’ve been to hell and back,
that’s enough
it’s the greatest satisfaction known to man.
once you’ve been to hell and back,
you don’t look behind you when the floor creaks
and the sun is always up at midnight
and things like the eyes of mice
or an abandoned tire in a vancant lot
can make you smile
once you’ve been to hell and back.”

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