Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. So what has this to do with Charles Bukowski?
When I was a young teenager, in the early 80s, I worked in a small health food sandwich shop in Redondo Beach California. The Dew Drop Inn was owned by Linda Beighle the girlfriend of Charles Bukowski. Behind the refrigerator was a large collection of records, mostly reggae, some African, and a smattering of other things including: George Winston, Grace Jones, Judy Garland, and Koerner Ray and Glover.
I loved the Koerner Ray and Glover album: The Return of Koerner Ray and Glover. It was my first exposure to folk music. I forget the occasion, but one day, perhaps a birthday, Linda gifted it to me. I still have it, and still listen to it. One of the songs is the Leadbelly song Titanic. The Pete Seeger song The Titanic which mentions the band playing Nearer My God to Thee is perhaps a more accurate telling, but the Koerner Ray and Glover song is my bridge from the Titanic to Hank.
When I decided to put up a poem a day for National Poetry Month I knew I wanted to include Hank. I also knew that I didn’t want to post one of his more sensational poems. It just seems too easy to mention Bukowski and drinking, or Bukowski and Sex. Hank has a certain reputation, and I’m not saying that it isn’t deserved, only it’s not a complete picture.
I remember being witness to moments of great tenderness between Linda and Hank. Hank was always encouraging of creativity, and of living. In two of the books that he gave me are inscriptions that I often turn to: