Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Merry Christmas, Bukowski" + More Darkness!


Yeah, that guy.

When I first read Charles Bukowski, I must not have been in the proper mindset to really appreciate where he was coming from. I liked it wasn't a big deal.  Yet, I knew people who raved over his work, who felt compelled to have lunches at hotel pools, slugging back cheap beer reading his poems.  I'm not kidding!  I remember a conversation with a record exec for a metal label while he was passing the time doing just this.  Now, though, I totally dig his poetry, though I've yet to read his fiction--I will rectify this at some point.  But with the poetry, and really getting it, oh yes, getting it to the core, I love his words, perspectives, observations.  Raw to the nerve and dipped in battery acid truths.  Unflinching, the way I like to approach my fiction writing...and my poetry as well. 

Yes, I write poetry, too.  I've mentioned it before, but it's been awhile. 

So, last year about this time, actually, it was 12-24 as I check my notes, I was sitting in a cafe and I wrote a poem inspired by Hank entitled, rather appropriately, "Merry Christmas, Bukowski."  Though I don't write like him, it's perhaps got that vibe, that casual, world-messed-up-but-getting by kind of vibe.  That grinding-through-to-the-other-side kinda vibe.  That pass-me-another-shot-and-wait-just-leave-the-bottle kind

Well, you be the judge.  Here's that poem. 


Merry Christmas, Bukowski

By John Claude Smith

I don’t find Christmas music cheerful

                    as I sit in the empty cafe

                    “less talk, more music”

I wish the DJ and the music would be

                    stricken with silence

my chai black tea grown cold

shake the snow globe,

pour the snow in the glass mug

The twelve days of Christmas up to nine 

my desire to shoot Santa

                    the reindeer

                    and the composer of this faux masterpiece

The manager speaks in her native tongue

(she said once her name was unpronounceable

though she goes by Tracy)

“Tracy,” I say, raising my eyes from

                    the aching sprawl of words

                    “Could we lose the music?”

“Are you a scrooge, Mr. John?” she asks

                    pasting a too quick smile

                    on her otherwise pleasant face

I pause to consider my limited options as response

and put on my “well, you’ve nailed me

with your spiffy observation, dear,” smile

and turn back to these crowded pages

I pull out my flask and add a little Christmas cheer

                    my own lubricated Carol

                    to warm things up

the chai black tea grown cold


if she cut out the horrendously cheerful music

perhaps she’d get some customers

Ho ho fuckin’ ho


HA!  Well, hope that amuses you.  Bukowski-esque, slightly; perhaps.  I think I've figured out what I like about his writing that I can relate to: we don't back away from harsh truths, from those deep, dark places most people want to avoid.  No, we like to dig into those places, peel off the scab.  Mess with the wound or...egad, what the heck am I writing?

We like to have our words without inhibitions.  That's the same was we should all approach our lives too: living without inhibitions.

Okay, enough of my philosiphizing. 

And, as a reminder that there's a book I'm trying to sell, here's a teaser, a couple snippets from the two most recent reviews for my collection, The Dark is Light Enough for Me.


Transported Beyond the Genre

“These stories, horrific and disturbing as they are, transport the reader far beyond the horror genre. Every story here has such depth and feeling, each could easily serve as the subject of an entire novel. The prose is fraught with emotion, the intensity of the writing is enough in itself to leave you breathless. Whether you are into the horror genre or not, you will be mesmerized by these little masterpieces.”


"Smith's anthology isn't for the sensitive or the faint-hearted. Many of the stories are edgy, working on concepts and thoughts that all us adults are familiar with, but rarely talk about. Smith isn't being quirky, or finding satisfaction in the gory, sexually perverse or the profane. No, he is writing this stuff because it unbalances the reader. Disturbs. Sometimes frightens - the essence of what quality horror/dark fantasy is all about. And he does it admirably, especially for a debut title."

Oh, my!  I am humbled and honored to have touched both of those readers in such a way.  And quite appreciative of their kind words and observations.  The second snippet is from a  long, intense and thought-provoking review that will probably get the full blog treatment, though you can check them both out and more on the amazon link below.  Actually, here's the whole rollcall of avenues one can purchase the book.
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon Germany:
Amazon France:
...and here's the grizzled old geezer in his environment, well, guzzling the liquid ambience to assist him in attaining his proper environment.



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