10 Best Charles Bukowski’s Poems read by Tom O’Bedlam

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a famous American-German poet, short-story writer, and novelist. He was a cult hero of his generation, who was described as a “Laureate of American lowlife” by Time Magazine.

About the writing style of Charles Bukowski aka Henry Bukowski:

Bukowski relied on experience, emotion, and imagination to finesse his craft. His unconventional and freestyle way of writing was beyond the comprehension of the writers of his generation.

His work was often criticised for his use of direct language and sexual imagery. But at the same time, it left an everlasting impression on the readers.

Despite receiving little critical acclaim in the UK, Bukowski’s fame sore to heights in Europe and Germany (his birthplace), where he was considered as a star. Some of his poems such as— Roll the Dice, The Laughing Heart, We don’t want Leaders, Nirvana, Bluebird are truly literary gems.

Charles Bukowski’s poem read by Tom’O Bedlam are ingenous:

Two years back, while surfing the internet for no particular reason, other than passing the night. I thought about reading some of his poems. And luckily, I found some of the best poems of Charles Bukowski read by Tom O’Bedlam.

The first one I heard was “Roll the Dice” narrated by Tom O’Bedlam, whose voice accentuated the beauty of that poem.

What makes Tom O’Bedlam a great reader and orator:

Tom O’ Bedlam is an eloquent orator. His style of narration is such, that he makes the poems of famous authors his own, by giving them a voice.

He has a well-modulated, sonorous voice which feels slightly melancholic. And takes perfect pauses, which are essential for his bilingual and multilingual listeners around the world.

As a bilingual person, I enjoy soaking the words. And a perfect pause helps my brain to break down the matter into my mother tongue. Thereby, making me understand the poetic genius of the writer being delivered by the orator.

There is a sense of maturity in Bedlam’s voice, that helps his listeners to retain the life lessons, being taught in the form of poetry. Therefore, I enjoy listening to his poetry recital, as his delivery of speech is impeccable.

Since then, I have read all of his poems, and have listened to them on Spoken Verse channel on YouTube. And would like to share some of my favourite poems by Charles Bukowski with you.

Take a look at my compilation of 10 Best Charles Bukowski’s Poems read by Tom O’Bedlam:

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

2. Roll the Dice by Charles Bukowski

If you’re going to try, go all the way.
otherwise, don’t even start.
if you’re going to try, go all the way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or
4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the
worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the
gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.
do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.
you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter,
it’s the only good fight
there is.

3. The Genius of the Crowd by Charles Bukowski

There is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art.

4. Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the w****s and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

5. Alone with Everybody by Charles Bukowski

The flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.
nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill
nothing else
fills.

6. Hell is a Lonely Place by Charles Bukowski

He was 65, his wife was 66, had
Alzheimer’s disease.
he had cancer of the
mouth.
there were
operations, radiation
treatments
which decayed the bones in his
jaw
which then had to be
wired.

daily he put his wife in
rubber diapers
like a
baby.
unable to drive in his
condition
he had to take a taxi to
the medical
center,
had difficulty speaking,
had to
write the directions
down.

on his last visit
they informed him
there would be another
operation: a bit more
left
cheek and a bit more
tongue.

when he returned
he changed his wife’s
diapers
put on the tv
dinners, watched the
evening news
then went to the bedroom, got the
gun, put it to her
temple, fired.

she fell to the
left, he sat upon the
couch
put the gun into his
mouth, pulled the
trigger.

the shots didn’t arouse
the neighbors.

later
the burning tv dinners
did.

somebody arrived, pushed
the door open, saw
it.

soon
the police arrived and
went through their
routine, found
some items:

a closed savings
account and
a checkbook with a
balance of
$1.14
suicide, they
deduced.

in three weeks
there were two
new tenants:
a computer engineer
named
Ross
and his wife
Anatana
who studied
ballet.

they looked like another
upwardly mobile
pair.

7. No Leaders Please by Charles Bukowski

Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
and
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
never
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to
you.

8. A Smile to Remember by Charles Bukowski

We had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, ‘be happy Henry!’
and she was right: it’s better to be happy if you
can
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn’t
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: ‘Henry, smile!
why don’t you ever smile?’
and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother
smiled.

9. So you Want to be a Writer by Charles Bukowski

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

10. Ice cream People by Charles Bukowski

The lady has me temporarily off the bottle
and now the pecker stands up
better.
however, things change overnight–
instead of listening to Shostakovitch and
Mozart through a smeared haze of smoke
the nights change, new
complexities:
we drive to Baskin-Robbins,
31 flavors:
Rocky Road, Bubble Gum, Apricot Ice, Strawberry
Cheesecake, Chocolate Mint…

we park outside and look at icecream
people
a very healthy and satisfied people,
nary a potential suicide in sight
(they probably even vote)
and I tell her
“what if the boys saw me go in there? suppose they
find out I’m going in for a walnut peach sundae?”
“come on, chicken,” she laughs and we go in
and stand with the icecream people.
none of them are cursing or threatening
the clerks.
there seem to be no hangovers or
grievances.
I am alarmed at the placid and calm wave
that flows about. I feel like a ***** in a
beauty contest. we finally get our sundaes and
sit in the car and eat them.

I must admit they are quite good. a curious new
world. (all my friends tell me I am looking
better. “you’re looking good, man, we thought you
were going to die there for a while…”)
–those 4,500 dark nights, the jails, the
hospitals…

and later that night
there is use for the pecker, use for
love, and it is glorious,
long and true,
and afterwards we speak of easy things;
our heads by the open window with the moonlight
looking through, we sleep in each other’s
arms.
the ice-cream people make me feel good,
inside and out.

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Let thy spirit be high in love. Namaste

This post was last modified on April 19, 2020 11:56 am

Pragati Chauhan

I am a soulful woman who loves to conjure up my thoughts and write. I thoroughly enjoy creating art and expressing myself through words. I believe words have a certain kind of melody that can be understood by everybody.

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