Back To The Machine Gun Poem by Charles Bukowski

Back To The Machine Gun

Rating: 3.1

I awaken about noon and go out to get the mail
in my old torn bathrobe.
I'm hung over
hair down in my eyes
gingerly walking on the small sharp rocks
in my path
still afraid of pain behind my four-day beard.

the young housewife next door shakes a rug
out of her window and sees me:
"hello, Hank!"

god damn! it's almost like being shot in the ass
with a .22

"hello," I say
gathering up my Visa card bill, my Pennysaver coupons,
a Dept. of Water and Power past-due notice,
a letter from the mortgage people
plus a demand from the Weed Abatement Department
giving me 30 days to clean up my act.

I mince back again over the small sharp rocks
thinking, maybe I'd better write something tonight,
they all seem
to be closing in.

there's only one way to handle those motherfuckers.

the night harness races will have to wait.

Larry Gorlitz 27 November 2008

Why do we need to have the everyday described to us? It's boring. If anything it's poetry that should be the escapism. There literally is nothing poetic about this. His language here is not used for its aesthetic or evocative qualities past its apparent meaning. It could have been written as a paragraph. Clearly the ramblings of a drunken fool. Maybe I'm being harsh on the guy.

1 14 Reply
Larry Gorlitz 22 September 2007

I disagree... I think what he's done here is... he's taken the mundane and just pressed the 'enter' key in the middle of sentences a few times and then called it poetry. Nothing really poetic about it at all really, other than the fact its called poetry.

1 10 Reply
Ryan Rabe 25 January 2008

I think you have to be a true alcoholic to understand the intensity of this.

4 5 Reply
Harold Shannon 21 July 2009

What speaks to me here is the title. Bukowski's machine gun is his typewriter. Those who are old enough to remember that sound will agree that the short, angry, staccado, bursts are the only plausible response to the invasiveness of every senseation reaching your brain as you emerge from who knows what nightmarish four day alcohol soaked cuckoon you have spun for yourself this time.

8 1 Reply
Emily Maggard 06 October 2009

Bukowski is a genius in that he can paint a lively picture from the mundane. Every detail given to the reader is well thought out- the title is a striking metaphor- we feel his unease at getting the mail in his tattered robe- the disappointment of bills in the mail. These are careful details of a depressed person, trying to paint a picture of reality, or the reality of his life. His weapon is the typewriter. Larry, you don't have to like it, but I cannot fathom how you can't see the poetry in his words. I think Bukowski is one of the greatest poets of his time for this- making art out of the dirty realities of his life. The Birds is one of my favorites.

7 1 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 30 October 2020

Act! ! Being shot! ! ! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

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Khairul Ahsan 30 October 2020

Not impressed with this poem, but congratulations to the poet anyway, for its selection as the 'Modern Poem of the Day'!

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Dr Antony Theodore 30 October 2020

I'm hung over hair down in my eyes barefoot gingerly walking on the small sharp rocks A very fine poem. tony

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Mahtab Bangalee 30 October 2020

there's only one way to handle those motherf******ckers. the night harness races will have to wait. ///wow superb quality writing on the tone of rebellious, great poem

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Realities of life has so soberly been handled

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