Charles Bukowski

(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

A Smile To Remember - Poem by Charles Bukowski

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


Comments about A Smile To Remember by Charles Bukowski

  • (8/12/2018 4:02:00 AM)


    BE HAPPY, JUST BE HAPPY, NO MATTER HOW HARD IT CAN BE, EVEN JESUS WAS HAPPOY THROUGH HARD TIME, (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Britte Ninad (8/10/2018 12:54:00 AM)


    heart touching writings-

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

  • Lily Ives (7/4/2018 10:47:00 PM)


    This poem is so sad. She experienced torment, and thought her children that we are slaves to our suffering. He spent the rest of his life, trying to heal his father's pain...but my father continued to beat her and me... while raging inside... because he couldn't understand what was attacking him from within. It seems the same fate befell Charles and that he drank because he couldn't understand what was attacking him from within. Powerful poem. (Report) Reply

  • Lungelo S Mbuyazi (6/23/2018 6:10:00 PM)


    Really nice write...I likeit. (Report) Reply

  • Nudershada Cabanes (6/11/2018 11:21:00 PM)


    A poignant poem that can teach us on how to make the best of any situation no matter how difficult. By choosing to be happy even when we are sad, to smile away the tears. (Report) Reply

    (6/12/2018 11:50:00 AM)

    That's definitely not the point of the poem. Much more is it about the struggle of alcohol many men face and, as Buk experienced in his own life, how to unsuccessfully deal with it. The torment people are put through because of one man's mistake is a terrible thing and one not to smile at.

  • (6/11/2018 11:00:00 PM)


    Oh! Its so painful to read through, I just couldn't position myself in a situation like that. Its truly heart piercing. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Roxanne Herrera (6/11/2018 3:30:00 PM)


    https:m.poemhunter.compoemi-cant-be-sad (Report) Reply

  • Muzahidul Reza (6/11/2018 2:54:00 PM)


    Wonderful memory shared, pleasure to read (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (6/11/2018 2:35:00 PM)


    Smile for life! !

    And bring joy to your heart.

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
    (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (6/11/2018 7:39:00 AM)


    I hardly know Bukowski, but this poem stands out for its poignancy. It’s poignant rather angry (which it could have been) because he shows sympathy for both parents. In form this poem looks artless, feels like a spontaneous telling of a story (which may be part of Bukowski’s craft?) , but when you have a moving story to tell, the story is what grabs us his readers. -GK (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (6/11/2018 7:33:00 AM)


    I hardly know Bukowski, but this poem stands out for its poignancy. I (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (6/11/2018 5:19:00 AM)


    The fish circled and circled like father's rage while mother smiled (Report) Reply

  • (6/11/2018 4:17:00 AM)


    an emotionally charged poem that is brilliantly written...………so sad Charles. (Report) Reply

  • Britte Ninad (6/11/2018 2:11:00 AM)


    allegorically great poem

    greatly written
    (Report) Reply

  • Mahtab Bangalee (6/11/2018 1:20:00 AM)


    smiling
    gives birth happiness,
    teaches to be happy,
    but never show its sorrowful tone which is hidden inside of it......

    great poem
    (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (6/11/2018 12:40:00 AM)


    Such a great poem by Charles Bukowski👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

  • (5/26/2018 11:23:00 PM)


    Every time I read this I watch it play out in my mind and it crushes my soul every time. (Report) Reply

  • (4/15/2018 12:17:00 PM)


    Home sweet home. We had to catch our fish. Words can beat a family as well as that look that doesn't say what is coming next, so that you cannot decide whether to hide from it as long as possible or just get it the over with. (Report) Reply

  • (3/3/2018 2:51:00 PM)


    I can literally feel it (Report) Reply

  • (1/30/2018 3:26:00 PM)


    Bringing back memories (Report) Reply

Read all 101 comments »

# 28 poem on top 500 Poems

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



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Monday, May 16, 2011


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