Open All Night

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These 189 posthumously published new poems take us deeper into the raw, wild vein of Bukowski's that extends from the early 1980s up to the time of his death in 1994.

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These 189 posthumously published new poems take us deeper into the raw, wild vein of Bukowski's that extends from the early 1980s up to the time of his death in 1994.

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Editorial Reviews

Kera Bolonik
Open All Night reveals a more wistful Bukowski — an aging writer fearlessly confronting his mortality.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
During his lifetime, Bukowski (1920-94) acquired a global following for his verse and prose depictions of down-and-outs, small-time gamblers and tormented, ambitious failures in his native Los Angeles. The confrontational post-Beat poet and novelist left behind a vast archive of manuscripts, from which this seventh posthumous book of verse has been drawn. The thick volume (like his other books) includes plenty of casual anecdotes, fiery catalogues of others' woes, and dejected musings on his own persistent drinking, sometime poverty, and mood swings. It includes, too, the off-color language and sexual escapades (some triumphant, most embarrassing) that have always ranked among Bukowski's attractions. His familiar world of "bums and heroes" in "tiny rooms" where "each meal was/ a miracle and/ the week's rent/ more so" comes to the fore quickly, and as usual, there's something to it. Heroes range from anonymous pals to Toulouse-Lautrec and Delmore Schwartz. Some poems examine Bukowski's problematic attitudes toward sex and romance: "no matter what woman I'm with," Bukowski declares in one such poem, "people ask me,/ are you still with her?" Bukowskian figures more typically find solace at racetracks, with whores, with liquor ("I drank and I drank and/ I drank in my room") and finally in writing, which lets them "kiss the sweet lips of this dirty/ world/ goodbye." Nobody will be converted to Bukowski by these verses, but that's hardly the point: like William Burroughs or Jim Morrison, Bukowski in death retains the tenacious (and mostly youthful) fan base he gathered in life. (Dec.) Forecast: Bukowski's books are perhaps best known among booksellers for the rate at which they are stolen. Black Sparrow has done well so far with each new salvo of Bukowskiana; there's no reason to think this book of poems will fall short of previous marks. (Booksellers might want to keep them behind the counter with a note tacked to the `B' shelf--adds to the mystique.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574231359
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,429,214
  • Product dimensions: 5.87 (w) x 8.93 (h) x 0.92 (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

2 buddies

I am not sure of our exact ages
when we met
(perhaps 9 or 10)
but Moses was one of my first real
Jewish and very quiet
and my second real friend was
he had one healthy arm
and part of another:
the lower part of his right
arm was a pure white enamel with a
brown leather glove
over the artificial fingers.
Moses vanished first.
my father informed me about him:
he pointed to a garage down the street
a large white and yellow structure
with sagging doors:
"your friend Moses was caught in there
doing something to a 5-year-old
girl. they got him."
Red's friendship was more durable.
we went swimming together all summer in the public
pool. he had to remove his artificial arm
as he splashed about with his arm-and-a-
half, the short arm ending just below
the elbow. it looked like it had
tiny nipples on the end of it
or maybe
it looked like tiny fingers.
the other boys teased him about his
half-arm and his tiny fingers
but I was a very mean lad
and I told them
in terms most definite
that the pool belonged to
and to let him
or else.
sometimes this brought us trouble later:
a gang would follow us home
to his house or mine and
more than once
standing outside
they'd scream at us
until we came out
andmet them on the front
I wasn't as good as Red.
he was very good with his pure white arm
with the brown glove,
it was usually around 4 or 5
against 2
but Red simply clubbed them down
one after another
swinging that hard arm
I'd hear the sound of it against
and there would be boys down on the lawn
holding their heads
and this only made me meaner
and I'd get one or two of my
and soon everybody but Red and
myself would have vanished off the
we went swimming in the public pool
more and more often.
there always seemed to be new boys
always more new boys
who couldn't quite grasp
how it worked.
they just didn't understand that we only
wanted to swim and be left
harking back to
I'm not so sure
but in a way
he must have been
missing some parts
we never saw him again
but his mother sure could
I remember all those delicious
cooking smells throughout the
I never saw Red's mother cooking

Saturday afternoon

we must have been 14 or 15
and we sat in this movie house
and here came this blonde on the screen
with pale empty eyes
and my friend elbowed me and said,
"Jesus, Hank, look at her lips!
look how moist those lips are!
I want to kiss those lips!"
"Jesus, man," I said, "shut
all the guys around us could hear
"I'm in love!" he said.
"God damn," I said, "shut up
or I'll punch you!"
I didn't like blondes: their skin
was like ivory and they always
looked like they were about to
"it's her lips," he said, "oh,
shit, it's those lips! look at
them! just to kiss those
the blonde was falling into some
man's arms like a swooning
butterfly and it was Gable,
my man Gable was falling for it!
it wasn't a good afternoon.
"I'd cut off one of my balls
just to kiss her!" my friend
"shit," I said and got up and
walked out.
I didn't want to hang around an
asshole like that.
I walked down to Frenchy's Café
for a coke.
I got the coke and sat there
and lit a cigarette.
"you can't smoke in here,"
said Frenchy, "you're just a
I kept smoking—I knew I
could handle Frenchy: he'd
been eating his own food, mostly
hot dogs and fries, for years and he
weighed about three hundred and
eleven pounds.
"so, you think you're a man,
huh?" he asked.
I nodded in the
"o.k., how'd you like to try
I shrugged.
Stella was Frenchy's waitress.
she walked out with her enormous
hips and her large yellow
"Stella, the kid says he wants to
hide it in your doughnut!"
"oh yeah?" she smiled at me.
she scribbled something down
on a pad, ripped off the page
and handed it to me.
"that's where I live. bring $5 and come
by after seven ..."
then she walked back
into the kitchen where she
washed dishes during slow
Frenchy leaned across the
counter and grinned at me,
"you think you can handle her,
I drained the coke,
gave him his money,
said, "better than your
fat ass could, Frog ..."
then I walked back down
the hill to my house
and my mother asked,
"back from the movie already,
"yeah," I said and I walked
into the bedroom
closed the door and stretched
out on the bed
knowing that I was afraid of
Stella and that I was afraid of
the blonde in the movie and
that I really didn't want
either one of them.
then the door opened and
my mother stood there
and she said, "Henry,
what are you doing in bed
at three-thirty on a Saturday
it's not good for young boys
to be laying around
and not doing anything!
young boys should be doing
I got up and walked out of
the bedroom and out of the
house and I began walking
down the street and I
turned the corner at twenty-
first street and I walked
down twenty-first street
and I kept walking and
walking past
hedges and driveways and
houses, and there
were men mowing and watering
their lawns, and there were
dogs barking, and there was
nothing else to do, there was
absolutely nothing else for me to

young love

we were nineteen,
Angel, the little dark guy,
Robert, the stubby muscled guy and
me, of the sunken cheeks and belly.
we lived in tiny rooms and
each meal was
a miracle and
the week's rent
more so
and one Sunday we
decided to go to a movie
which was a crazy
none of us had seen a movie since
our parents had
kicked us out.
"which one?" asked Robert.
"I don't care," I said, "they're all
equally bad."
Angel was in love with a
rather fat actress with big
eyes, eyes always
filled with tears, so
we drove down Pico Blvd.
in a car
Robert had borrowed from
his older brother
and we found the theatre
with Angel's actress and
we paid and
went in
and her movie was
on first—
it had to do
with bastards (the real kind)
and since our parents had
treated us as such
in the past
we paid some interest
we mainly liked the lady's
weeping eyes and big
thighs: I'm sure we
all imagined ourselves
in bed with her
getting healed.
in her best scene
she said furiously,
"there is no
such thing as illegitimate
children! there are only
illegitimate parents!"
the second movie was about
Love in the South
old plantation days.
it was just before the
Civil War
most of the gentlemen were
gentlemen and most of the
ladies were still ladies.
it was a musical
and the plot was confusing:
there seemed to be some
problems brewing but they
were so subtle that
I couldn't quite grasp what
they were.
anyhow, a scene arrived
where the
two lovers (him and her)
went out on a
and began singing a
love duet to
one another.
"now," I told Robert, "if
the slaves come in from the
fields and start singing with
the lovers
I'm leaving."
it didn't take long,
the blacks came in, yes, a
black sea of them, soon over a
hundred faces, maybe two hundred,
male and female
young, medium, very old, even
some tiny children
looking up at the balcony
and singing to the two lovers as
the two lovers sang
to each other.
"let's go," said Robert.
"o.k.," I said.
"hey," said Angel, "where the hell are
you guys going?"
"we'll wait for you in the car,"
Robert told him.
Robert and I pooled our money and
bought a large loaf of French bread
and sat in the car
eating it.
it was fresh and very good
it filled the empty places.
when you're hungry and broke
one of the best things you can do
is fill up on French bread.
as we ate the French bread
we didn't talk very much
just now and then we
as we chewed.
soon we were finished.
not much later
Angel came out.
he got into the car:
"hey, you guys are crazy! you
wasted your money! you only got
to see one movie!"
Robert started the car and
we drove back down Pico Blvd. as the
sun was going down on
Los Angeles.
Angel was in the back
"you guys are crazy," he
said again.
somehow I don't think we were.


look, the lioness is hungry.
she stalks the wildebeest.
they are faster
but she is stronger
she can run longer.
and she is hungry.
there she goes,
look, she almost has a young
wildebeest near the
rear of the pack.
yes, leap, she has him.
by the throat.
his eyes like bottlecaps
pray to the sky.
he's dead now
she tears him apart
going for her favorite
the others—
the birds and hyenas
close in and
she shakes her head
slowly walks off.
as the monkeys begin to
come down out of the
the lioness is
satisfied and

    dinner, pain & transport

slowly going
the way of witches,
banal and burning
dinners in cafés
where trolleycars run over
the roof, and
notes from the mayor
asking me to kill pale young
who ride bicycles;
it is an indecent time
when the machine guns are silent
and the clouds hold nothing hidden
in creampuff jowls;
I can prophesy evil
with the force of a jackhammer
dislodging a stupid street;
I wipe my mouth and count the
bannister bars, I contemplate the
white space
between the waiter's legs
as he runs to hand me
a bill; outside,
it is the same:
the devils drink from the breasts
of stunned maids;
it is beginning to rain:
fleck, fleck, fleck,
the dirty drops of tulip wine ...
I buy a paper at the corner,
fold it like a sleeping cobra
and stand there
stand there
drawing pictures in the air,
dirty pictures and cathedrals,
scalped lizards, drunken miracles;
then catch the 6:15 bus
to my room; it is a room
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

2 buddies 17
Saturday afternoon 20
young love 24
lioness 28
dinner, pain & transport 29
love for the first whore 31
good times 35
Jane and Prince 38
a place to hang out 40
to Jane Cooney Baker, died 1-22-62 42
I was her lover 44
beauty gone 45
dogfight over L.A 46
event 52
all that 53
the stranger 54
the other room 55
the death of an era 56
for some friends 59
broken 61
wall clock 62
the beer bottle blow 63
some of myfathers 69
black sun 77
the players 78
batting slump 79
somewhere it's 12:41 a.m 80
the reply 81
searching for what? 82
the hero and the shortstop 84
my favorite movie 85
share the pain 87
the old pinch hitter 89
ah, ah, ah 90
Edith sent us 91
we're all gonna make it 93
hymn from the hurricane 97
soundless 101
miracle man 102
little theater in Hollywood 104
novels 106
pleased to meet you 108
yes, I am 110
now she's free 112
we get along 113
swinging from the hook 115
AIDS 116
flight time to nowhere 117
a woman in orange 119
a poem for swingers 121
backups 122
merry, merry 123
liberated woman and liberated man 125
a place to go 127
age and youth 128
a good show 132
popcorn in the dark 133
a little spot of senseless yellow 134
Toulouse 135
Bruckner (2) 137
in dreams begin responsibilities 139
uncrowned 141
what we need 142
Chatterton took rat poison and left the rest of us in
peace 145
Jack 151
upon phoning an x-wife not seen for 20 years 152
big time loser 153
like a movie 155
an unusual woman 157
pale pink Porsche 158
the arrangement 159
polish sausage 161
down by the sea, the beautiful sea 163
the guitar player 165
social butterfly 169
a fan letter 171
I'm a failure 172
too dark 174
this is a fact 176
there's one in every bar 177
the beautiful rush 178
over-population 179
an old love 181
beds, bathrooms, you and me 183
puzzle 185
hot dog 187
the fall 190
on bums and heroes 193
running on empty 199
this habit 201
madness? 202
it's difficult when bananas eat monkeys 204
old man with a cane 205
empty goblet 207
an interview 209
poem, poem, poem, poem 213
the soulless life 214
the x-con 217
the way it is now 218
dead dog 219
20 bucks 222
a lost soul 224
compassion 226
he also flosses every day 227
more mail 229
look here! 231
we can't 232
terrorists 233
big time 235
here we go again 238
Manx 239
the best men are strongest alone 241
another love poem 243
the Spanish gate 245
no dice 247
stark dead 248
hello 249
lunch 250
four young gang-bangers 255
I don't care 257
Royal Standard 259
Mother and Princess Tina 260
late night 262
night sweats 263
locks 264
token drunk 271
Butch Van Gogh 274
I don't want Cleopatra 276
the strange workings of the dark life 277
open all night 279
come back 281
my father wanted me to be a mechanical draftsman but 287
rest period 289
swivel chair 290
AT&T 294
loosely loosely 296
fungoes 298
Schubert 300
problems in the checkout line 302
troubles in the night 304
where to put it 306
Chinaski 308
hummingbird chance 310
I meet a vegetarian 311
the Nile runs north 313
all god's children got trouble 314
my 3 best friends 316
my doctor 318
a certain pride here 322
a screening 323
fame 325
thoughts on being 71 327
at the end of the day 329
huh 331
until 333
short story 334
as much as I hate to use the "F" word 336
competition 338
raw 340
hardly Nirvana 341
garden talk 342
a computer now 343
a day so flat you could roll marbles on it 347
lazy in San Pedro 349
it's slow tonight 350
an answer to an eleventh grade student in Philadelphia 353
the yellow pencil 354
a grounder to the shortstop 359
don't sit under the apple tree with anybody else but me 360
secret laughter 361
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2013


    She lay sleeping

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013


    ((Sorry, I wasn't trying to be mean, just stated a fact. And aw, dats sad.))

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    This is an excellent book

    Chuck Bukowski is a mad man who knows how to write good poetry. His humor is very ironic and very, very dry. It's also very subtle. I read a poem from this book to a good friend of mine at college one day. The poem was about a drunken bar fly who has an infatuation with the bar maid. Needless to say my friend and I got a good laugh out of it because it's true to life.

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