Good Luck, Mockingbird


This was the only poem I really loved in its entirety.

In an effort to find out whether I would find more resonance with the poetry of Charles Bukowski than I did with his prose, I checked out a copy of “Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck” from the library. I’m not sure where this particular book of poems ranks with his other works, either in chronology or in prestige, but I liked the title and, more importantly, it didn’t look too long. I may be able to read a cool thousand pages of a novel without blinking an eye, but my tolerance for poetry is significantly lower.

If I’m honest, I’m not even sure that I can offer a useful review of the book. There were some beautiful turns of imagery- many of which were not actually beautiful images at all (Ex. “Comfrock, you motherfuck
Get up off your crazy knees
And I’ll belt you down
Again-“), but I also spent about eighty percent of the time wondering ‘what even is poetry?’ Because about eighty percent of the time I felt like I was reading a discarded napkin on which Chuck had scribbled a few notes then accidentally included in the envelope with his manuscript. Or maybe on purpose. Or maybe that was the point.

I wasn’t aware of any recognizable structural elements: punctuation, line breaks, repetition, alliteration… It all seemed to be pretty arbitrary. Part of me wonders if that was the point- that the nature of this kind of poetry is to defy structure and convention. Then again, if this is poetry then I have a L O T of poems scribbled on the edges of my notebooks.

I have to say, though, I have a much greater understanding of Bukowski’s mise en scene for having lived in Los Angeles for a few years. I know what he means when he talks about the heat of the summer or about this or that Mission down on Skid Row or about this or that place that once existed or still exists in one form or another.

At any rate, again: I didn’t hate it, but I also never need to read it again.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 10, 2018.

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