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Open All Night

Open All Night

3.6 3
by Charles Bukowski

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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.


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.

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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.87(w) x 8.93(h) x 0.92(d)

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


Meet the Author

Charles Bukowski 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 two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.

Brief Biography

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

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Open All Night 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She lay sleeping
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((Sorry, I wasn't trying to be mean, just stated a fact. And aw, dats sad.))
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.