Charles Bukowski

(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

back to the machine gun

I awaken about noon and go out to get the mail
in my old torn bathrobe.
I'm hung over
hair down in my eyes
gingerly walking on the small sharp rocks
in my path
still afraid of pain behind my four-day beard.

the young housewife next door shakes a rug
out of her window and sees me:
"hello, Hank!"

god damn! it's almost like being shot in the ass
with a .22

"hello," I say
gathering up my Visa card bill, my Pennysaver coupons,
a Dept. of Water and Power past-due notice,
a letter from the mortgage people
plus a demand from the Weed Abatement Department
giving me 30 days to clean up my act.

I mince back again over the small sharp rocks
thinking, maybe I'd better write something tonight,
they all seem
to be closing in.

there's only one way to handle those motherfuckers.

the night harness races will have to wait.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
13 person liked.
0 person did not like.


Read poems about / on: power, hair, water, people, pain, god, night

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (back to the machine gun by Charles Bukowski )

  • Veteran Poet - 1,958 Points Smoky Hoss (12/24/2014 6:03:00 PM)

    The beauty of an individual soul, walking, working and wandering through a life, and expressing so in the wonder of words, as viewed by one who is not afraid to speak as he sees. Surprisingly refreshing, actually. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Rebecca Lytle (5/1/2014 6:23:00 PM)

    Larry Gorlitz why are you here? You have a tractor-pull attendee, trailer park-dweller, litterbug's understanding and appreciation of poetry AT BEST. Please excuse yourself, run down to the 7-11 for some dip, and go find some more naked lady mudflaps for your truck or something. Buh-bye! (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,153 Points Kevin Patrick (7/28/2013 12:16:00 PM)

    Bukowski eschewed the clichés of pretentious poetry with an emphasis placed on modern sensibilities his descriptions flow with there unholy serene conviction that forces you to look at things in a less flowery way. The man was NOT a hack trying to rip off Shakespeare sonnets it was about living within the moment of Now.

    Anyway didn't the first stanza remind you of the Dude from the Big Lebowski? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 1 Points Alex Roth (1/2/2013 10:23:00 AM)

    A reply to Mr.Gorlitz:

    He wrote with soul and honesty..he painted pictures and stories with words. He style is not my style, nor should it be, because he is him and I am me. Whether you use mystic words or lines, academic words or lines, everyday words or lines; matters not. What matters is the beauty of the picture and the honesty of the inspiration. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Emily Maggard (10/6/2009 2:56:00 PM)

    Bukowski is a genius in that he can paint a lively picture from the mundane. Every detail given to the reader is well thought out- the title is a striking metaphor- we feel his unease at getting the mail in his tattered robe- the disappointment of bills in the mail. These are careful details of a depressed person, trying to paint a picture of reality, or the reality of his life. His weapon is the typewriter. Larry, you don't have to like it, but I cannot fathom how you can't see the poetry in his words. I think Bukowski is one of the greatest poets of his time for this- making art out of the dirty realities of his life. The Birds is one of my favorites. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 519 Points Sally Plumb Plumb (7/25/2009 3:49:00 AM)

    Everything he writes shines like the morning star. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Harold Shannon (7/21/2009 11:34:00 AM)

    What speaks to me here is the title. Bukowski's machine gun is his typewriter. Those who are old enough to remember that sound will agree that the short, angry, staccado, bursts are the only plausible response to the invasiveness of every senseation reaching your brain as you emerge from who knows what nightmarish four day alcohol soaked cuckoon you have spun for yourself this time. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 1 Points Adam Holmes (3/13/2009 2:17:00 AM)

    Kudos to brian. Larry deserves a slap in the face(Moron) . You missed the boat man. It is these 'boring' days that define who we really are. Nothing is particularly wrong with escapism, it's necessary at times, but to say that is what defines poetry is an idiotic statement sir. Poetry has no definition. None that i will recognize anyways. Every man's everyday is different from our own, and in its own way, it is art. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Larry Gorlitz (11/27/2008 9:33:00 PM)

    Why do we need to have the everyday described to us? It's boring. If anything it's poetry that should be the escapism. There literally is nothing poetic about this. His language here is not used for its aesthetic or evocative qualities past its apparent meaning. It could have been written as a paragraph. Clearly the ramblings of a drunken fool.
    Maybe I'm being harsh on the guy. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Just Jes (4/30/2008 7:42:00 PM)

    <- Does not agree with Ryan.
    Thats like saying you have to be able to count Banyon Trees home to understand Hemmingway, who was also quite intese, and also at ime dry as salt
    I get Bukowski and I'm a saint when it comes to drink and the common Alchie.
    He's just a realist... Perhaps a drunk but not for me to judge on mend. The cats got style in a way that those who wrk at it never quit tee of on. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ryan Rabe (1/25/2008 2:47:00 PM)

    I think you have to be a true alcoholic to understand the intensity of this. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Larry Gorlitz (9/22/2007 8:23:00 PM)

    I disagree...
    I think what he's done here is... he's taken the mundane and just pressed the 'enter' key in the middle of sentences a few times and then called it poetry. Nothing really poetic about it at all really, other than the fact its called poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Walter Durk (9/19/2007 7:52:00 PM)

    The beauty of his writing here is he takes the mundane and makes it fascinating.

    'maybe I'd better write something tonight,
    they all seem
    to be closing in.'

    He finds liberation through writing. (Report) Reply

Read all 13 comments »

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Caged Bird
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Watch WWE Wrestlemania 31 Live Stream Fr.., Watch WWE Wrestlemania 31 Li ..
  5. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  6. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  7. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  8. If, Rudyard Kipling
  9. Caged Bird, Maya Angelou
  10. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
[Hata Bildir]