poet Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

#16 on top 500 poets

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

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003
Poem Edited: Monday, May 16, 2011

Add this poem to MyPoemList

Rating Card

A Smile To Remember # 31 poem on top 500 Poems
3,7 out of 5
492 total ratings
rate this poem

Comments about A Smile To Remember by Charles Bukowski

  • laurence burris (11/14/2020 6:40:00 PM)

    Charles nails what it is like to live in a home full of sadness and ennui.
    Brillant!

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Juliet L Languedoc (7/16/2020 8:53:00 PM)

    This is profoundly done - love with unfolding beauty of true love.

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • ASmileToRemember (4/29/2020 11:51:00 AM)

    https: //.youtube/watch? v=nfX7zDjJJH4

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • J.B. Eliot (10/7/2019 4:36:00 PM)

    He's a good cautionary tale of what domestic violence in the house does to a childs psyche. Perhaps happiness to him felt like a contrivance too often because he saw his mom pull it over any tragedy like setting drapes in front of a window with a large mushroom cloud in the distance.

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • naftuli (9/15/2019 2:12:00 PM)

    My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour.... Here ======►► www.more.cash61.com ★★★COPY THIS SITE★★★

    Already Reported Reply
    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Adeeb AlfatehAdeeb Alfateh (6/16/2019 1:48:00 AM)

    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? '


    great 10++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (4/5/2019 12:34:00 AM)

    A touching poem full of emotion........

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • new zealand man (3/20/2019 6:06:00 PM)

    man made out of vodka and cigarettes

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Someone stranger (3/13/2019 3:33:00 PM)

    Happiness is something everybody wants to get but not everyone certainly reach it

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Vavroovahana Patra (1/15/2019 5:55:00 AM)

    Penned melancholically

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Osman Shato Mbindi (11/15/2018 12:25:00 AM)

    Happiness is the innermost precious emotion that is rarely found..nyc piece Charles

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • CHARLES (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
    3 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Britte NinadBritte 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
    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Lily IvesLily 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
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Lungelo S MbuyaziLungelo S Mbuyazi (6/23/2018 6:10:00 PM)

    Really nice write...I likeit.

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Nudershada CabanesNudershada 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
    MrBungle(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.

    2 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Jayatissa K.Liyanage (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
    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Roxanne HerreraRoxanne Herrera (6/11/2018 3:30:00 PM)

    https:m.poemhunter.compoemi-cant-be-sad

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Muzahidul RezaMuzahidul Reza (6/11/2018 2:54:00 PM)

    Wonderful memory shared, pleasure to read

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward 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
    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.



Read this poem in other languages

What do you think this poem is about?

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