King of Pain

Jim Harrison in The New York Times:

Harrison190 Charles Bukowski was a monstrously homely man because of a severe case of acne vulgaris when he was young. Along the way he also had bleeding ulcers, tuberculosis and cataracts; he attempted suicide; and only while suffering from leukemia in the last year of his life did he manage to quit drinking. Bukowski was a major-league tosspot, occasionally brutish but far less so than the mean-minded Hemingway, who drank himself into suicide.

It is hard to quote Bukowski because there are virtually none of those short lyrics with bow ties of closure that are so pleasant for a reviewer to quote. I will excerpt a poem evidently written quite near the end of his life:

it bothers the young most, I think:
an unviolent slow death.
still it makes any man dream;
you wish for an old sailing ship,
the white salt-crusted sail
and the sea shaking out hints of immortality

sea in the nose sea in the hair
sea in the marrow, in the eyes
and yes, there in the chest.
will we miss
the love of a woman or music or food
or the gambol of the great mad muscled
horse, kicking clods and destinies
high and away
in just one moment of the sun coming down?

More here. (For Molly Sharma)