Plinky prompt: What is your favorite poem? Why?

I’m not a big fan of poetry. While I can certainly appreciate the technical prowess involved in writing it, it’s rare that I find a poem that moves me. Shakespeare fascinates me. How on earth could he be so damn prolific in iambic pentameter? I’d have a difficult time writing even one sonnet, let alone entire plays in it. Absolutely stunning.

Until about fifteen years ago, I thought of poetry as a highly skilled art form that wasn’t really my cup of tea. I thought of it the way that some people think of ballet… technically beautiful, but boring.

Then I met Charles Bukowski. For the first time ever, I found that I preferred a writer’s poetry to his prose. It’s honest and raw. It doesn’t rhyme and it doesn’t follow any rules. It is forthright and powerful. It speaks to me in a way that no other poet has ever been able to. Even though my life is vastly different than Bukowski’s, I can relate.

Bluebird was published in Bukowski’s book “The Last Night of the Earth Poems” circa 1992. It is one of the first poems I read by Bukowski and it it still and will always be one of my favorites. It is part of what makes “The Last Night of the Earth Poems” my favorite book.

Drawing by Bukowski. It's actually a sparrow, not a bluebird. Close enough.

Drawing by Bukowski. It’s actually a sparrow, not a bluebird. Close enough.

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 whores 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?

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