This week’s Sunday Share is “death sat on my knee and cracked with laughter” by Charles Bukowski. Bukowski’s poetry has always resonated with me, not because of structure, form, or meter. It was the subject matter. I relate to his work more than other writers. This poem is included in the collection You Get so Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense. For copyright reasons, I have not included the entire poem in this post. Please follow the “Read More” link to purchase a copy of the book to read for yourself.
death sat on my knee and cracked with laughter
I was writing three short stories a week
and sending them to the Atlantic Monthly
they would all come back.
my money went for stamps and envelopes
and paper and wine
and I got so thin I used to
suck my cheeks
and they’d meet over the top of my
tongue (that’s when I thought about
Hamsun’s Hunger – where he ate his own
flesh; I once took a bite of my wrist
but it was very salty).
Anyhow, one night in Miami Beach (I
have no idea what I was doing in that
city) I had not eaten in 60 hours
and I took the last of my starving
went down to the corner grocery and
bought a loaf of bread.
I planned to chew each slice slowly –
as if each were a slice of turkey
or a luscious
and I got back to my room and
opened the wrapper and the
slices of bread were green
my party was not to be.
I just dumped the bread upon the
and I sat on that bed wondering about
the green mould, the
my rent money was used up and
I listened to all the sounds
of all the people in that
“Death Sat on My Knee and Cracked with Laughter.” You Get so Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense, by Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow, 2003, pp. 141–143.