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(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

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A Smile To Remember

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, 'be happy Henry!'
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
can
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?'

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother
smiled

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, May 16, 2011


Read poems about / on: happy, smile, cat, father, mother, fish, water, home, remember, fishing

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Comments about this poem (As The Sparrow by Charles Bukowski )

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  • Sash S.sharma (1/10/2014 6:13:00 AM)

    CHarles Bukowski was such a fine poet, he is still my all time inspiration. RIP

    10 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Kaity Cochran (12/27/2013 5:43:00 PM)

    Every time I read this I get goosebumps.

  • Fiona Schwartzinoff (12/21/2013 9:57:00 PM)

    Wow. Powerful.
    me like it.

  • D.l. Aceves (12/19/2013 7:20:00 PM)

    'saddest smile I ever saw'

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/18/2013 4:31:00 AM)

    We too live like fish in round bowls
    Too scared to jump and to be free
    But content with the whipping
    With never a thought to flee....

    I welcome all those reading this to my page too.....

  • Inas Essa (10/12/2013 1:12:00 PM)

    Great write, I really enjoyed it.

  • Heather Wilkins (7/1/2013 3:12:00 PM)

    maybe this is more a story. anyway I enjoyed the write. It is entirely up to the poet what he writes.

  • * Sunprincess * (10/5/2012 5:58:00 PM)

    have to say this is a sad poem, was kind of expecting something more cheerful.. :)

  • H. Reese (7/5/2012 11:31:00 AM)

    Bukowski was a really inspired guy who explored devestation, poverty, sadness. We need those kind of people. The Internet can help stop suffering in this life, Go to Google, search The Truth Contest, click the first result, begin reading The Present

  • Bruna Araujo (3/25/2010 3:51:00 PM)

    How is this a poem? Oh well, maybe will never know.

Read all 30 comments »

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