Bukowski and Self-Care: 10 Thoughts

I thought a good bit about self-care today…a particular type of attention to self that I struggle to approach thoughtfully and helpfully. These few quotes by one of my favorite poets, Charles Bukowski, helped me with my thinking.

the cut

The cutting of one’s skin, the dividing of human flesh, can happen in several ways:

There is the quick jab, like a needle or the slip of a knife while chopping vegetables, virtually painless in the moment, yet growing in discomfort as the medicine is applied or salt seeps into the wound. Pain level – minimal, a no when you ask a stranger on a date.

There is then the larger cut with a duller instrument, like concrete on the knee after a bike crash or the newly trimmed nails of a cat, painful in the moment, painful in the cleaning, leaving an ugly scar to commemorate the event. Pain level – medium, your best friend moves away for a new job.

There is the slower, deliberate, self-inflicted cut, made with the dull hunting knife your grandfather gave you for Christmas, dragged knowingly down the vein in your wrist, needing excuses of dish washing accidents to cover the gash all can see. Pain level – intense, when your child wants you out of their life at 16.

that’s what little protests are made of

take a knee don’t
black an eye don’t
close your eyes to
hate and lies and

hold your head high
hold your fist high
hold your breath you
son of a bitch

we hold these truths to be self-evident: not all are created equal; not all are endowed with unalienable rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are allowed, but you must not be ungrateful.

be grateful you
degenerate punks
you rich, entitled,
arrogant shits

anti-white (oops)

I have a nightmare, deeply rooted in the american dream, that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “we hold these truths to be self-evident: not all are created equal.”

not all are created equal
not all are graced with freedom
not all are given a voice
not all. not all. not all.

transience tagged

Written for Rattle‘s September 2017 Ekphrastic Challenge.
Art can be viewed here: https://i2.wp.com/www.rattle.com/ekphrasis/EC17Sep.jpg?ssl=1

slowly climbing these few steps at the end of each day
takes all the energy that remains

go left
     between the seats
          14A is her favorite
          not too close to front or rear – hidden, like life

blanket, spread.
knees, tucked.
breathing, slows.
remembering, begins.

the dream

today was like every other – push the cart – gather the riches – lean, heavily, as the feet begin to drag a bit – street by street – door by door – ignore the insults – avoid eye contact – keep walking

the dream

when I was young, like Lana’s song, the stares came for different reasons – I soaked them in like epsom salts, easing the aches no one could see – I smiled like a model, thin and beautiful, worthy of everything – everywhere to go, everyone to see, everything to do, all I could be – then there was life.

transience embraced
     nothing remains beyond
          neither time, nor place
          it’s time to embark – find another place, another life

bag, loaded.
coat, buttoned.
hat, gloves,
her few possessions gathered

she departs.

behind her leaving only an eponymous tag.