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View Full Version : Rate-a-Poem: Young in New Orleans



William Haskins
02-02-2006, 07:40 PM
By Charles Bukowski (http://www.rooknet.com/beatpage/writers/bukowski.html)
1920 - 1994
Young in New Orleans

starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for
hours,
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, maybe it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the
world.
New Orleans was a place to
hide.
I could piss away my life,
unmolested.
except for the rats.
the rats in my dark small room
very much resented sharing it
with me.
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
that spoke
an unblinking
death.

women were beyond me.
they saw something
depraved.
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
brought my
coffee.

that was plenty for
me, that was
enough.

there was something about
that city, though
it didn't let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
needed.
it let me alone.

sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
sounds,
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape
enter
me
as I heard the rats
moving about the
room,
I preferred them
to
humans.


being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way
undisturbed.

New Orleans gave me
that.
nobody ever called
my name.

no telephone,
no car,
no job,
no
anything.

me and the
rats
and my youth,
one time,
that time
I knew
even through the
nothingness,
it was a
celebration
of something not to
do
but only
know.

Godfather
02-02-2006, 11:04 PM
New Orleans gave me
that.
nobody ever called
my name.


that line.

incredible.

oneovu
02-02-2006, 11:51 PM
Love it. Every word.

Perks
02-03-2006, 12:08 AM
I hate that, because poetry is usually shorter than prose, it's too easy to be derailed by one's mood. Not that I'm in a bad mood. I know, on a level that this is wonderful piece of poetry. But the gatekeeper won't let it in.

I'm glad it's here with its title as such that I'll remember it. I'll open this thread another time and soak it up right.

mkcbunny
02-03-2006, 10:07 AM
It's not working for me, either. I felt like it kept ending ... and then not ending.

poetinahat
02-03-2006, 12:08 PM
I feel a little stupid, maybe callous, after reading it. As though I should love it but don't.

I like what mkcbunny said. I think there are several ideas that would stand alone as a poem, e.g.:
- class/race divide
- lonely dissipation
- becoming subhuman
- the freedom of anonymity and lack of accountability
but none of them gets sufficient exploration here.

I'm impatient with the line breaks too. Maybe it's because I'm reading it quickly before having to run off.

I'll read again and vote when I've got more time to digest.

Shwebb
02-03-2006, 03:35 PM
I liked it. I liked the sense of being lost, disconnected, an observer--even in his own life at that point. There's a nakedness to it.

The other thing I like is the casualness on the face of the poem, which emphasizes the darkness of it.

He paints a good picture of both his external and internal point of view.

being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way
undisturbed.

I didn't put it up w/ masterpiece, though.

brokenfingers
02-03-2006, 04:54 PM
I enjoyed it a lot. I guess it's all subjective, but I could identify with him and his sense of aimless wandering, his seeming lack of purpose. I could relate to his thoughts of staying in New Orleans - almost as if he was hiding out, biding his time, content to float on the river of life and not care where it bore him.

That sense of avoiding the coming responsiblities of adulthood for as long as you can, before the weight of that whole 9-5 rat-race wheel drags you down.

Anyways, I liked it.

oneovu
02-03-2006, 07:05 PM
I could imagine him reading this and it increased my enjoyment of the piece, I'm sure.

kdnxdr
02-03-2006, 07:21 PM
I'm a content/emmotion person. Reading anything is like eating for me. Hungry, I open the package, if what's inside smells good, looks good, taste good, I eat it. If it meets non of my criteria as to be edible, I don't eat it.

Death, misery, suffering, hate, and all the negatives that they entail are worth writing about, however, for me to survive, I've got to get at least something edible out of them.

I'm not good at all with poetry construction critique's because I go straight for "what IS IT that the author is wanting to say?". To me the construction is what ever the food is wrapped in, but the food is still the stuff inside the package.

It does give a good insight to pre-storm havoc and now with the tornado hitting down there, this poem multiplied by "how many other lost souls" makes me wonder, was there a life worth living in New Orleans? I personally am not drawn to want to live in a wasted, worthless life. If I'm gonna celebrate something, I want to celebrate life. And if I'm gonna fight against something, I'm going to fight against death. The tricky part is: life can look like death and death can look like life. It's good to know the difference.

Sarita
02-03-2006, 07:46 PM
I'm with BF on this one. It was very interesting to me, both the subject matter and the way it was carried out. I love the half rhyming, sort of uninterested feel of it, as if it's a poem that just doesn't care what the rest of the poems think. Does that make sense? These lines hit me between the eyes.


there was something about
that city, though
it didn't let me feel guilty

oneovu
02-03-2006, 08:02 PM
..as if it's a poem that just doesn't care what the rest of the poems think. Does that make sense?
Total sense. I think it actually describes all of Bukowski's poetry very well. He makes everything I write feel too melodramatic and full of itself, a get real reminder.

Paint
02-03-2006, 11:27 PM
Somebody take the pen away from Chuck. I think he said it all in the first verse. I lost interest in it after that. Blame my short attention span.

Cassie88
02-04-2006, 06:13 AM
It's been a long time since I read poems by Bukowski, so I went in search of some more.

http://bukowski.net/poems/

And here

http://www.levee67.com/bukowski/

I found what to me explains his poetry.....

He also looked just like I imagined he'd look.

My favorite lines: being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way
undisturbed.

Rob-rite
02-06-2006, 06:08 AM
I like it. I like it because in certain times of my life I've actually felt that way.

That's what good poetry does to you ...

rhymegirl
02-06-2006, 10:05 PM
I think it's a good poem and I like the way it's written. You notice that the lines get shorter and shorter. Could that be a reflection of his own life; it's getting shorter and shorter? It's dwindling down over time.

I think he sets up the mood very well and uses good imagery.

A. Hamilton
02-06-2006, 11:59 PM
The mood of this was very strong and well versed, however it reminded me more of the narration of a film-noir type piece and when I went back and read it outloud, it took on a more appealing nature. Not usually the type of poem that appeals to me but I can see its worth. I gave it a three.

louisgodwin
02-07-2006, 01:52 AM
I loved it. It's obvious the poet is not from N.O., but ran there to get away from something. This poem depicts every single aspect of how living (hiding) in this city has made him feel. I would say it's very nice work.

mkcbunny
02-07-2006, 08:17 AM
The mood of this was very strong and well versed, however it reminded me more of the narration of a film-noir type piece ...
It felt like a film narration to me, as well.

Ralyks
02-07-2006, 04:17 PM
I liked this one line a lot:

and hardly charmed by the
world


I had to force myself to read it to completion, though. I don't know why it bored me, but it did.