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You Get So Alone Sometimes That it Just Makes Sense

       Before reading this collection I was unfamiliar with Charles Bukowski’s work. Really the only reason I picked it up was because I liked the title, and skimming through it I liked what I saw. After finishing the collection, I have a love-hate relationship with it. The poems in the collection generally operate through several main themes – alcohol, horse racing, and being an established poet who receives letters complaining that he doesn’t write the way he used to. The common factor tying all of these poems together though is the singularity behind each of them. Even when describing interaction between people, the heart of the poem is in the speaker’s awareness of being alone, disconnected. One of my favorite poems, “no help for that,” acts as a fairly decent summary for the focus of the collection.

 

no help for that

there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

a space

and even during the
best moments
and
the greatest times
times

we will know it

we will know it
more than
ever

there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and

we will wait
and
wait

in that space.

 

I think it would have been beneficial to have been acquianted with some of Bukowski’s previous work before reading this particular collection, as some of the poetry operates on the idea that the reader is familiar with his work. However, I didn’t find that my reading was vastly affected by my unfamiliarity.  Bukowski’s biting sarcasm and rather hopeless view of the world simultaneously depressed me, made me laugh, and deeply resonated with me. I will be picking up another Bukowski collection in the near future.

 (Reviewed by Erin Longbottom)