Tags

, , , , , ,

This time tomorrow I’ll be getting ready to read at the Charles Bukowski-themed SPOKEN at the State Library Cafe. It runs from 5.30 till 7.30pm, and features Sommer Tothill, Kevin Spink, Dan Eady, as well as yours truly. There will also be live body art by The Pillow Book Girls, music by Bernard Houston and band, an open mic, and the raffling off of one of the very last copies of The Voyage, my first chapbook. All that for free!

I’d never read any Bukowski at all a few weeks ago, and I’ll admit it was intimidating to write from and for a man with such a distinct style. But it’s my chance to feel a little like Tom Waits for one night, so I’ll be putting on my bowler hat and I’ll be there, reading new work.

The first poem that really struck me, in my research, was Bluebird. Mandy Beaumont, SPOKEN’s Mistress of the Mic, asked me to write a letter to Charles, so I wrote back to this poem, musing on my inner bird. I should mention: I always carry an umbrella in summer because the threat of dive-bombing birdies scares my socks off. So tomorrow you’ll meet my mangy galah.

In the meantime, here’s the original poem, as read by Mr Bukowski himself:

Bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

And, as a bonus, here’s Tom Waits reading The Laughing Heart: