The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

The 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

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
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
you want to blow my book sales in

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

then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do


From Bill Press's review of The Pleasures of the Damned, a collection of Bukowski's poems from 1951-1993 edited by John Martin, that appeared last Sunday in The Washington Post Book World. "Even though he was preoccupied with his own death, Charles Bukowski worried about one thing even more: 'of course, I may die in the next ten minutes/and I'm ready for that/but what I'm really worried about is/that my editor-publisher might retire/even though he is ten years younger than/I.' Bukowski needn't have worried. John Martin not only outlived him, he's still at it: hunting down uncollected poems, editing Bukowski." It was Martin who talked Bukowski into quitting a job at the post office to write full time, and Martin who has collected Bukowski posthumously.

This new book, according to Press, is "an insightful walk through the work of a poet by the man who knew him best, and it reveals Bukowski in the many, often conflicting dimensions that make him such a popular, accessible, and, yes, great artist...a crude, hard-living, hard-drinking, hard-fighting curmudgeon who is, at the same time, a closet romantic. In 'The Bluebird,' perhaps the most beautiful and revealing of all his poems, Bukowski hints that his rough exterior, first mounted as a protective shield against an abusive father, is just a smokescreen to mask the vulnerable soul lurking inside: 'there's a bluebird in my heart that/wants to get out/but I'm too tough for him.'"

I had a very lovely afternoon with Jules, whose birthday we celebrated belatedly by going to California Pizza Kitchen for hummus and pizza, then watching 3:10 To Yuma. What a completely awesome movie! I figured I would like it even if it was violent because of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, but I thought it might be kind of a Guy Movie -- I'm often not a big fan of Westerns, I really don't like Unforgiven or Tombstone, but this had enough Brokeback Mountain to put a smile on my face (at one point Russell's character said something so like "Ain't nobody's business but ours" and I howled and Jules looked at me funny).

There is all kind of interesting stuff about what it means to be a man in this movie -- naturally the biggest insult in the world for the cowboys is to be compared to women, though the baddest of the bad, Ben, treats women very well while there's all kinds of homoerotic stuff going on among the men who use violence as a substitute for just about everything else. All of Dan's decisions are made so he can look like a man to his wife and sons -- he's a failure as a rancher and isn't particularly proud of the job he's done as a father until the very end, when he realizes his son's values are much closer to his own than the gang's (and that Ben's values are closer to his own as well -- under all the machismo, Ben is messed up from a messed-up childhood). Like most Westerns, we're set up to admire the criminal far more than the bully marshals who can be bribed, and the Indians who are barely seen but shoot everyone who encroaches on their land are the most admirable characters under the movie's code of behavior.

I was spoiled for the ending, having asked a friend to please warn me if it had a nasty nihilistic shootout as one review I read had claimed, but this really isn't a movie where knowing who lives or dies matters; finding out that Wade ends up connecting with Dan so much that he kills his obsessively devoted sidekick and the rest of his gang is a much bigger deal, and I didn't know that part. Jules and I decided that Dan should really be alive and he, Ben and Alice should all move across the border and have a nice big ranch and a nice menage a trois and that would make everyone happy. Well, except maybe Dan's son who would be jealous about Ben but he can find someone his own age. *g*


The kids have midterm exams next week so most of the afternoon and evening involved squawking at them about doing homework and studying. Plus my Celestial Collection Barbies for which I paid way, way less than the prices on this page on eBay arrived! (Am still a failure at reducing my collection but hey, I have pretty much every doll I've ever wanted since I started collecting now, except the Arabian Nights set and the Phantom of the Opera set which go for insane amounts.) Read the LiveScience articles on how older birds act like grandparents to their offspring's offspring and how women suffer from olfactory loss when they suffer from depression (which I always thought was just me -- I crave smells when I'm unhappy, especially seasonally), and worried a bit about the cold iguanas falling out of the trees in Florida. Hey, it's lighter reading than Richardson dropping out of the race!

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