Come On In! by Charles Bukowski

Over the weekend I finished reading Come On In!: New Poems by Charles Bukowski, and I felt a twinge of sadness when I returned the book to the library. I had enjoyed spending some evenings at home with old Buk.

Come On In by Charles Bukowski

Come On In by Charles Bukowski

Bukowski died in 1994 and the collection was published posthumously in 2006. Here we find the author facing old age, illness and death and never flinching. He presents several gems in the book—accessible poems packed with emotion. The tender, humane side of Bukowski is exposed, as if the onion skin had been peeled.

Charles Bukowski (Richard Robinson/Black Sparrow Press)

Here are four of my favorite works from the volume. I think they contain lessons for the living, as Bukowski seems to offer instructions as we face our own demise.

moving toward the dark

if we can’t find the courage to go on,
what will we do?
what should we do?
what would you do?
if we can’t find the courage to go on,
what day
what minute
in what year
did we go
or was it an accumulation of all the years?

I have some answers.
to die, yes.
to go mad, maybe.

or perhaps to
gamble everything away?

if we can’t find the courage to go on,
what should we do?
what did all the others

they went on
living their lives,
we’ll do the same,

living too long
takes more than


no leaders please

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to


Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

my song


restless days
sleepless nights

always fighting
with all your
heart and soul
so as not
to fail at living

who could ask
for anything


mind and heart

unaccountably we are alone
forever alone
and it was meant to be
that way,
it was never meant
to be any other way–
and when the death struggle
the last thing I wish to see
a ring of human faces
hovering over me–
better just my old friends,
the walls of my self,
let only them be there.

I have been alone but seldom
I have satisfied my thirst
at the well
of my self
and that wine was good,
the best I ever had,
and tonight
staring into the dark
I now finally understand
the dark and the
light and everything
in between.

peace of mind and heart
when we accept what
having been
born into this
strange life
we must accept
the wasted gamble of our
and take some satisfaction in
the pleasure of
leaving it all

cry not for me.

grieve not for me.

what I’ve written
forget it

drink from the well
of your self
and begin

Bukowski, Charles. Come On In!: New Poems. New York: Ecco (An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), 2006.


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