Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Charles Bukowski. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Henry Charles Bukowski ( boo-KOW-skee; born Heinrich Karl Bukowski, German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈkaʁl buˈkɔfski]; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German–American poet, novelist, and short story writer.
His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor
Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column Notes of a Dirty Old Man in the LA underground newspaper Open City.
Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. As noted by one reviewer, "Bukowski continued to be, thanks to his antics and deliberate clownish performances, the king of the underground and the epitome of the littles in the ensuing decades, stressing his loyalty to those small press editors who had first championed his work and consolidating his presence in new ventures such as the New York Quarterly, Chiron Review, or Slipstream." Some of these works include his Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 Story Window, published by his friend and fellow poet Charles Potts, and better known works such as Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame. These poems and stories were later republished by John Martin's Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/Ecco Press) as collected volumes of his work.
In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski's appeal ... [is that] he combines the confessional poet's promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero."Since his death in 1994, Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings, despite his work having received relatively little attention from academic critics in the United States during his lifetime. In contrast, Bukowski enjoyed extraordinary fame in Europe, especially in Germany, the place of his birth.
What a weary time those years were, to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.
If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.
Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.
People run from rain but sit in bathtubs full of water.
A life can change in a tenth of a second or sometimes it can take 70 years.
Animals never worry about heaven or hell. Neither do I. Maybe that's why we get along.
Our disappointment sits between us.
Fiction is an improvement on life.
Generally, a writer of force is anywhere from 20 years to 200 years ahead of his generation.
Those who have been writing literature have not been writing life.
Much publishing is done through politics, friends, and natural stupidity.
Sometimes I've called writing a disease. If so, I'm glad that it caught me.
It's when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.
Life wore a man out, wore a man thin.
Tomorrow would be a better day.
I tell you such fine music waits in the shadows of hell.
I grow tired of 18th century moralities in a 20th century space-atomic age.
Agony sometimes changes
it never ceases for
To experience real agony is something hard to write about, impossible to understand while it grips you; you're frightened out of your wits, can't sit still, move, or even go decently insane.
We had such tremendous fun and much agony together for some years.
People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love.
My poems are only bits of scratching
on the floor of a
The psyche has been burned and left us senseless, the world has been darker than lights-out in a closet full of hungry bats, and the whiskey and wine entered our veins when blood was too weak to carry on.
Art is its own excuse, and it's either Art or it's something else. It's either a poem or a piece of cheese.
I was fairly poor but most of my money went for wine and classical music. I loved to mix the two together.
When you clean up a city, you destroy it.
The way to create art is to burn and destroy
ordinary concepts and to substitute them
with new truths that run down from the top of the head
and out of the heart.
Most people are much better at saying things in letters than in conversation, and some people can write artistic, inventive letters, but when they try a poem or story or novel they become pretentious.
Days like this, like your day today.
maybe the rain on the window trying to
get through to you. What do you see today?
what is it? where are you?
the best days are sometimes the first,
sometimes the middle and even sometimes the last.
I went home each night dizzy and sick. He was murdering me with the sound of his voice.
There are too many ways to drown even if you don't want to drown.
Was I the only person who was distracted by this future without a chance?
Walking out with the people, I didn't know which was more exciting, the air race, the parachute jump that failed, or the cunt.
Anything, anything to stop drowning in this dull, trivial and cowardly existence.
I am this fiery snail crawling home.
To die on a kitchen floor at 7 o'clock in the morning while other people are frying eggs is not so rough unless it happens to you.
So, that's what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That's what they needed. People were fools.
So, that's what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That's what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.
I just sit here and look at my hands. It is one of my better evenings. Yesterday I was very depressed.
I'm not a guru. I wish you wouldn't pose these things at me, man. Ask me about women or something.
The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left.
The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn't understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.
I write fiction
Fiction is an improvement on life.
I'll use the knives for spreading jam, and the gas to warm my greying love.
If I never see you again
I will always carry you
on my fingertips
and at brain edges
and in centers
of what I am of
No matter how little a man has he will find that he will always settle for less.
The trouble with a mask is it never changes.
It doesn't matter if Prince Charles falls off his horse
or that the hummingbird is so seldom
or that we are too senseless to go
coffee. give us more of that NOTHING
What a pitiful mass of dangerous nothing.
My youth, one time, that time I knew even through the nothingness, it was a celebration of something not to do but only know.
I view his furry storage tanks -- what can a man think about while looking at a cat's nuts? Certainly not the sunken navies of great sea battles.
Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit.
Be it peace or happiness
let it enfold you.
There is a blue bird in my heart that wants to get out.
The writer has no responsibility other than to jack off in bed alone and write a good page.
If you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
There's no release, just gurus and self- appointed gods and hucksters. the more people say, the less there is to say.
There's nothing like privacy. You know, I like people. It's nice that they might like my books and all that...but I'm not the book, see? I'm the guy who wrote it, but I don't want them to come up and throw roses on me or anything. I want them to let me breathe.
And love was lightning and remembrance.
The grace is being able to like rock music, symphony music, jazz … anything that contains the original energy of joy.
So where do you go? Back to the bottle And back to a tiny room somewhere. And wait. And wait, and wait. That's all.
The rent is a little higher here
but so far I've been able to
and that's a miracle too
like still maybe being sane
while thinking of guns and sidewalks
and old ladies in libraries.
I am too sick to lay down the sidewalks frighten me the whole damned city frightens me, what I will become what I have become frightens me.
She could talk. If she was a sphinx she could have talked, if she was a stone she could have talked. I wondered when she'd get tired and leave. Even after I stopped listening it was like being battered with tiny pingpong balls.
There is enough treachery , hatred violence absurdity in the average human being to supply any given army on any given day.
As we live we all get caught and torn by various traps. Nobody escapes them. Some even live with them. The idea is to realize that a trap is a trap. If you are in one and you don't realize it, then you're finished.
I want quiet thunder.
The telephone is needed for
Emergency purposes only
These people are not
Emergencies, they are
Sometimes I feel as if we are all trapped in a movie. We know our lines, where to walk, how to act, only there is no camera. Yet, we can't break out of the movie. And it's a bad one.
Some men never die and some men never live but we're all alive tonight.
I drive around the streets
an inch away from weeping,
ashamed of my sentimentality and
Courts are places where the ending is written first and all that precedes is simply vaudeville.
If I have any advice to anybody it's this: take up watercolor painting.
I hope that I never become a vogue. A vogue is damned and doomed forever.
I felt that even the sun belonged to my father, that I had no right to it because it was shining upon my father's house. I was like his roses, something that belonged to him and not to me.
They, all of them, seemed to put literary form in front of the actuality and living of life itself.
Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others.
Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can't vent any anger against them; I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence.
They thought I had guts they were wrong I was only frightened of more important things.
Now we are citizens of nothing. the sun itself knows the sad truth of how we surrendered our lives and deaths to simple ritual….how we said no, no, no, no to the most beautiful YES ever uttered -
Beware women grown
who were never
I am not a man who looks for solutions in God or politics. If somebody else wants to do the dirty work and create a better world for us and he can do it, I will accept it.
It seemed to me that I had never met another person on earth as discouraging to my happiness as my father. and it appeared that I had the same effect upon him.
I was young I was so young it hurt like a knife inside because there was no alternative except to hide as long as possible -- - not in self-pity but with dismay at my limited chance: trying to connect.
It's nice enough to make a man weep, but I don't weep, do you?
There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out.
There's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
She was desperate and she was choosey at the same time and, in a way, beautiful, but she didn't have quite enough going for her to become what she imagined herself to be.
I don't write so much now. I'm getting on 33, pot belly and creeping dementia.
It was only the matter of a new voice. Nobody listened to an old voice anymore. Old voices became a part of one's self, like a fingernail.
Hate contains truth. beauty is a facade.
Knowledge without follow-through is worse than no knowledge.
A good book can make an almost impossible existence, liveable.
What you see on the freeway is just what there is,
a funeral procession of the dead,
the greatest horror of our time in motion.
I'll see you there tomorrow!