Writing Like Buk

Charles Bukowski

I don’t write poetry, yet, I’ve written two poems in the last week. The first one was bad and this one is bad. Today’s daily prompt is to write a passage in the style of one of your favorite authors. I’ve attempted this before actually. I wrote a passage in the style of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger.

Whenever someone asks me who my favorite author is, I typically answer that I couldn’t possibly answer that question. It depends on context. I have favorite authors in fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry, and in almost all genres. There are books I adore because of the clever writing and others that I adore because of the clever stories. Asking for just one favorite author is just as impossible as asking my favorite band.

That said, my favorite author is most likely Charles Bukowski. I am not a fan of poetry. I will choose prose over poetry 9 times out of 10. The reason Buk is one of my favorite authors is that he’s the exception to the rule. I actually prefer his poetry to his prose.

A friend of mine told me that I write like Charles Bukowski “if Bukowski was ironically funny.”  I said, “But, Bukowski is ironically funny.” “Not in the way you are,” he said.

I’ve been told that I write like Bukowski more than once and I always take it as a compliment. I suppose, in a way, it could be viewed as a dig; one could take it to mean that I don’t have my own style and I’m just aping someone else, but I don’t believe that. It is entirely true that I would, without hesitation, list Buk as a huge influence on me, but so are George Orwell, Raymond Chandler, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Joan Didion and Douglas Adams.

Anyway, since people seem to think that I write like Buk, I thought I’d actually take the opportunity to intentionally try to write like Buk. Here are the pitiful results:

I lie
in the half light of morning
listening to Los Angeles.
The city stretches,
and wakes up
Its sounds drown out the birds
And the birds
and I
cannot sleep.

We awake
in the morning light,
the birds and me,
listening to the noise level rise
all around us
and a house fly
banging against the glass
on the wrong side
trying to get out.

I close
my eyes
to the morning light.
Cold on the outside,
warm on the inside.
working up the nerve
to start
another wretched day
in this festering teeming mass.

I lie
there for a while
listening to the birds,
working up the nerve
to get out
to be as free
as they are
but I never will.