Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Poetry Corner

Share

Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

By Norah Christianson

Bluebird

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 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?

 

Reading this poem, you understand that the bluebird is a personification the emotional life that Bukowski keeps locked in his heart. Bukowski is too “tough,” too “clever” to let his emotions show. He suppresses his emotions by pouring whiskey on them.  (We all have our panaceas.) Only at night, “when everybody’s asleep” does he let the bird out and let his emotions surface…”a little.”

This is a sad poem. We pity Bukowski. But then he brings us up short at the end with, “…but I don’t weep, do/you?” He makes us look at ourselves, and we realize how our social norms require that we keep our own emotions undercover, that we behave, and that therefore that we don’t show our true selves to the world .

Charles Bukowski, 1920 – 1994, was born in Germany and came to this country at the age of two. Besides poetry, Bukowski wrote short stories and novels. Some critics found his writing to be offensive—Bukowski wrote about broken people, depravity of modern life, alcohol abuse and violence. TIME call Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.”  But he has continued to remain popular in America and Europe and is now accepted by the literati of academia.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Read more

Local News