Night Torn Mad with Footsteps: New Poems

( 2 )


This collection of previously unpublished poems offers the author's take on squabbling neighbours, off-kilter lovers, would-be hangers-on, and the loneliness of a man afflicted with acute powers of observation. The tone is gritty and amusing, spiralling out towards a cock-eyed wisdom.

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The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps

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This collection of previously unpublished poems offers the author's take on squabbling neighbours, off-kilter lovers, would-be hangers-on, and the loneliness of a man afflicted with acute powers of observation. The tone is gritty and amusing, spiralling out towards a cock-eyed wisdom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) remains as prolific and belligerent in death as he did in life. In classic Bukowski fashion, the pieces in The Night Torn with Footsteps: New Poems deploy the line-as-phrase as a primary formal constraint, and a hackneyed, boastful misogyny as a major rhetorical gesture. If continually found "sitting/ in my cheesebox room/ closer to suicide than/ salvation," readers will still be right there with Buk. ( Dec. 11) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574231656
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 775,087
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowsk is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.


During the course of his long, prolific literary career, Charles Bukowski was known as a poet, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. But it is as a cult figure, an "honorary beat" who chronicled his notorious lifestyle in raw, unflinching poetry and prose, that he is best remembered. Born in the aftermath of World War I to a German mother and an American serviceman of German descent, he was brought to the U.S. at the age of three and raised in Los Angeles. By all accounts, his childhood was lonely and unhappy: His father beat him regularly, and he suffered from debilitating shyness and a severely disfiguring case of acne. By his own admission, he underwent a brief flirtation with the far right, associating as a teenager with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. After high school, he attended Los Angeles City College for two years, studying art, literature, and journalism before dropping out.

Although two of his stories were published in small literary magazines while he was still in his early 20s, Bukowski became discouraged by his lack of immediate success and gave up writing for ten years. During this time he drifted around the country, working odd jobs; fraternizing with bums, hustlers, and whores; and drinking so excessively that he nearly died of a bleeding ulcer.

In the late 1950s, Bukowski returned to writing, churning out copious amounts of poetry and prose while supporting himself with mind-numbing clerical work in the post office. Encouraged and mentored by Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, he finally quit his job in 1969 to concentrate on writing full time. In 1985, he married his longtime girlfriend Linda Lee Beighle. Together they moved to San Pedro, California, where Bukowski began to live a saner, more stable existence. He continued writing until his death from leukemia in 1994, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

Bukowski mined his notorious lifestyle for an oeuvre that was largely autobiographical. In literally thousands of poems, he celebrated the skid row drunks and derelicts of his misspent youth; and, between 1971 and 1989, he penned five novels (Post Office, Factotum, Women, Ham on Rye, and Hollywood) featuring Henry Chinaski, an alcoholic, womanizing, misanthrope he identified as his literary alter ego. (He also wrote the autobiographical screenplay for the 1987 film Barfly, starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.) Yet, for all the shock value of his graphic language and violent, unlovely images, Bukowski's writing retains a startling lyricism. Today, years after his death, he remains one of the 20th century's most influential and widely imitated writers.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      August 16, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Andernach, Germany
    1. Date of Death:
      March 9, 1994
    2. Place of Death:
      San Pedro, California
    1. Education:
      Los Angeles City College, 2 years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

one writer's funeral

there was a rock-and-mud slide
on the Pacific Coast Highway and we had to take a
detour and they directed us up into the Malibu hills
and traffic was slow and it was hot, and then
we were lost.
but I spotted a hearse and said, "there's the
hearse, we'll follow it," and my woman said
"that's not the hearse," and I said, "yes, that's the
the hearse took a left and I followed
it as it went up
a narrow dirt road and then pulled over and I
thought, "he's lost too." there was a truck and a man
selling strawberries parked there
and I pulled over
and asked
where the church was and he gave me directions and
my woman told the strawberry man, "we'll buy some
strawberries on the way back." then I swung
onto the road and the hearse started up again
and we continued to drive along
until we reached that
we were going
to the funeral of a great man
the crowd was very sparse: the
family, a couple of old screenwriter friends,
two or three others, we
spoke to the family and to the wife of the deceased
and then we went in and the service began and the
priest wasn't so good but one of the great man's
sons gave a fine eulogy, and then it was over
and we were outside again, in our car,
following the hearse again, back down the steep
passing thestrawberry truck again and my
woman said, "let's not stop for strawberries,"
and as we continued to the graveyard, I thought,
Fante, you were one of the best writers ever
and this is one sad day.
finally we were at the graveside, the priest
said a few words and then it was over.
I walked up to the widow who sat very pale and
beautiful and quite alone on a folding metal chair.
"Hank," she said, "it's hard," and I tried in vain
to say something that might comfort her.
we walked away then, leaving her there, and
I felt terrible.
I got a friend to drive my girlfriend back to
town while I drove to the racetrack, made it
just in time for the first race, got my bet
down as the mutuel clerk looked at me in wonder and
said, "Jesus Christ, how come you're wearing a


do not bother the beagle lying there
away from grass and flowers and paths,
dreaming dogdreams, or perhaps dreaming
nothing, as men do awake;
yes, leave him be, in that simple juxtaposition,
out of the maelstrom, lucifugous as a bat,
searching bat-inward
for a state of grace.
it's good. we'll not ransom our fate
or his for door knobs or rasps.
the east wind whirls the blinds,
our beagle snuffles in his sleep as
outside, outside,
hedges break, the night torn mad
with footsteps.
our beagle spreads a paw,
the lamp burns warm
bathed in the life of his

a smile to remember

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, "be happy, Henry!"
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.
my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: "Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?"
and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw.
one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother

where was Jane?

one of the first actors to play Tarzan was living at the
Motion Picture Home.
he'd been there for years waiting to die.
he spent much of his time
running in and out of the wards
into the cafeteria and out into the yard where he'd yell,
he never spoke to anyone or said anything else, it was always just
everybody liked him: the old actors, the retired directors,
the ancient script writers, the aged cameramen, the prop men,
      stunt men, the old
actresses, all of whom were also there
waiting to die; they enjoyed his verve,
his antics, he was harmless and he took them back to the time
      when they
were still in the business.
then the doctors in authority decided that Tarzan was possibly
and one day he was shipped off to a mental institution.
he vanished as suddenly as if he'd been eaten by a
and the other patients were outraged, they instituted legal
to have him returned at once but
it took some months.
when Tarzan returned he was changed.
he would not leave his room.
he just sat by the window as if he had
his old role
and the other patients missed
his antics, his verve, and
they too felt somehow defeated and
they complained about the change in Tarzan
doped and drugged in his room
and they knew he would soon die like that
and then he did
and then he was back in that other jungle
(to where we will all someday retire)
unleashing the joyful primal call they could no longer
there were some small notices in the
and the paint continued to chip from the hospital
many plants died, there was an unfortunate
a growing lack of trust and
hope, and
a pervasive sadness:
it wasn't so much Tarzan's death the others mourned,
it was the cold, willful attitude of the
young and powerful doctors
despite the wishes of the
helpless old.
and finally they knew the truth
while sitting in their rooms
that it wasn't only the attitude of the doctors
they had to fear,
and that as silly as all those Tarzan films had been,
and as much as they would miss their own lost
that all that was much kinder than the final vigil
they would now have to sit and patiently endure
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Table of Contents

one writer's funeral 15
beagle 17
a smile to remember 18
where was Jane? 19
the fish with yellow eyes and green fins leaps into the volcano 21
1966 Volkswagen minivan 23
his cap 25
luck from a kitchen 27
it was just a little while ago 29
the fight game 30
a lady who wants to help? 33
Carson McCullers 35
a happening 36
albums 38
makeover 40
centuries of lies 41
too tough to care 43
funny man 45
a fan 48
Christ in his manger 49
the priest 54
1810-1856 56
back to the machine gun 57
love dead like a crushed fly 58
it beats love 64
the automobiles of DeLongpre 65
40 years ago 66
the counter revolution 70
a definition 75
Gothic and etc 78
Brando 80
rogue's gallery 82
media 85
I was wrong 88
up, down and all around 91
the main course 92
it's all music 95
my cat, the writer 96
one for the road 99
room 22 100
she caught it one the fly 104
a drink to that 105
sit and endure 107
out of the money 108
4 cops 110
my girlfriend says it's all so easy 112
American Literature II 114
heartache 115
I cause some remarkable creativity 117
the cosmic joke 119
the death of the snowman 121
shut out 126
the machine gunner 127
2 deaths 129
schoolyards of forever 130
beaujolais jadot 133
bar chatter 135
punched-out 137
counterpoint 139
3 pairs of panties 140
this drunk 141
Casablanca 143
the saddest words I ever heard 146
the light 148
the closing of the bottomless bar 150
fame of a sort 152
never look 153
now the professors 155
the hatchet job 158
shack jobs 160
ground zero 161
my telephone 162
exactly right 164
progress 167
Carter 169
two cats asleep downstairs and death itself no problem 172
the pro 173
pain like a black-and-white snapshot 176
Life, Death, Love, Art 178
sometimes when you get the blues there's a reason 186
the Word 187
my nudie dancer 189
I can't see anything 198
not exactly the sun 199
the doomed lady poet 201
the eternal horseplayers 203
first day, first job 204
long sad story 207
the theory of the leisure class 209
divorce 210
no wonder 213
macho hell 215
you know who's best 217
he died April 9, 1553 218
pick-up 220
it's all right 222
one of those crazy nights 223
urban war 225
good pay 227
panasonic 231
out of place 232
a great place, here 234
horses don't bet on people and neither do I ... 236
my failure 238
in memory of a dead jock 240
repeat 242
now you know why we kiss the wall 244
that's who sent them 246
it's just me 247
then I know why 251
her only son 253
the wrong way 255
I move to the city of San Pedro 259
be angry at San Pedro 263
lost in San Pedro 265
justice 267
a boor 269
out of the dark 273
for the foxes 274
poem for Brigitte Bardot 277
having the flu and with nothing else to do 279
a time to remember 280
"I demand a little respect" 281
pink silks 283
milk a cow and you get milk 285
oh, to be young in 1942! 286
the condition book 289
the kid from Santiago 290
room service 292
passport 294
darlings of the word 296
KFAC 299
it is good to know when you are done 301
TB 303
a song with no end 305
the lucky ones 306
spelling it out on my computer 308
crazy as a fox 309
cats and you and me 310
they need what they need 312
hello, how are you? 313
one thirty-six a.m 314
harbor freeway south 316
gamblers all 319
guitars 320
no man is an island 325
an animal poem 327
eulogy 329
two writers 331
small conversation in the afternoon with John Fante 335
girl on the escalator 336
one learns 338
the beginning of a brief love affair 340
melodies that echo 341
self-inflicted wounds 343
racetrack parking lot at the end of the day 345
moving toward what? 348
if I had failed to make the struggle 350
wine pulse 352
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014



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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2006

    An Unexpected Classic

    Before reading Bukowski, I had a narrow view of poetry, only thinking that the structued verse of Keats, Donne, Shakeseapre and the like was deserving of the title 'poetry'. Yet Bukowski does something undecsribably great with his poetry, and this book should be read by anyone who thinks they know anything about poetry.

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