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Charles Bukowski


Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany, on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways.

Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His writing often featured a depraved metropolitan environment, downtrodden members of American society, direct language, violence, and sexual imagery, and many of his works center around a roughly autobiographical figure named Henry Chinaski. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.

Selected Bibliography


2 by Bukowski (1967)
A Love Poem (1979)
Africa, Paris, Greece (1975)
All the Assholes in the World and Mine (1966)
Another Academy (1970)
At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems, 1955-1973 (1974)
Cold Dogs in the Courtyard (1965)
Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
Crucifix in a Deathhand: New Poems, 1963-1965 (1965)
Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981)
Fire Station (1970)
Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1959)
Grip the Walls (1964)
If We Take... (1969)
It Catches My Heart in Its Hands: New and Selected Poems, 1955-1963 (1963)
Legs, Hips, and Behind (1978)
Longshot Pomes for Broke Players (1962)
Love Is a Dog from Hell: Poems, 1974-1977 (1977)
Love Poems to Marina (1973)
Maybe Tomorrow (1977)
Me and Your Sometimes Love Poems (1972)
Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck (1972)
Night's Work (1966)
On Going Out to Get the Mail (1966)
Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979)
Poems Written before Jumping out of an 8-story Window (1968)
Poems and Drawings (1962)
Run with the Hunted (1962)
Scarlet (1976)
Sparks (1983)
The Curtains Are Waving (1967)
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses over the Hills (1969)
The Flower Lover (1966)
The Genius of the Crowd (1966)
The Girls (1966)
The Last Generation (1982)
The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992)
The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966 (1988)
To Kiss the Worms Goodnight (1966)
True Story (1966)
War All the Time: Poems, 1981-1984 (1984)
Weather Report (1975)
While the Music Played (1973)
Winter (1975)
sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way (2003)
Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems (Ecco Press,2017)


Barfly (1984)
Bring Me Your Love (1983)
Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972)
Factotum (1975)
Ham on Rye (1982)
Hollywood (1989)
Horsemeat (1982)
Hot Water Music (1983)
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
Post Office (1971)
Pulp (1994)
South of No North: Stories of the Buried Life (1973)
There's No Business (1984)
Women (1978)


Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993)
The Bukowski/Purdy Letters: A Decade of Dialogue, 1964-1974 (1983)

Poetry & Prose

Septuagenarian Stew (1990)

By This Poet


the suicide kid

I went to the worst of bars
hoping to get
but all I could do was to
get drunk
worse, the bar patrons even
ended up
liking me.
there I was trying to get
pushed over the dark
and I ended up with
free drinks
while somewhere else
some poor
son-of-a-bitch was in a hospital
tubes sticking out  all over
as he fought like hell
to live.
nobody would help me
die as
the drinks kept
as the next day
waited for me
with its steel clamps,
its stinking
its incogitant
death doesn't always
come running
when you call
not even if you
call it
from a shining
or from an ocean liner
or from the best bar
on earth (or the
such impertinence
only makes the gods
hesitate and
ask me: I'm

1990 special

weary to the bone,
dancing in the dark with the
the Suicide Kid gone

ah, the swift summers
over and gone

is that death
stalking me

no, it’s only my cat,

this kind of fire

sometimes I think the gods
deliberately keep pushing me
into the fire
just to hear me
a few good

they just aren't going to
let me retire
silk scarf about neck
giving lectures at 

the gods need me to
entertain them.

they must be terribly
bored with all
the others

and I am too.

and now my cigarette lighter
has gone dry.
I sit here
flicking it.

this kind of fire
they can't give