Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Wayne F. Burke writes


Like the Golem
the "Buk"
is mythical too:
an Ubermensch
from out of the shadows
of a sunny city;
out of the rooming houses
with torn wall paper
and toilet down the hall
and cum-stained walls;
out of the bar rooms,
those dungeons of time,
and last-call fiascos
and pickled keilbasas
in Philly or East Saint Looie
or the Big Easy;
off the bus with a beat suitcase
with the word attached,
seared by his old man's strap
his mother's failure to protect;
his scarred face reflects
sensitivity behind snarled fists
and beatings taken and given:
beer bottles pressed to mouth,
smoke from the narcissist's
dragon lips; a monster who
meant no harm, he was woman-
bound: slipped envelopes into
each box on his route; slept in
the drunk tank a time or two;
sought love from whores and
life from alcohol and found
a little of both but never
enough, and wrote an epic
of survival, unrivaled in
modern poetry.
Image result for bukowski paintings
Charles Bukowski -- Larry Caveney


  1. Heinrich Karl Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920, the son of an American soldier who remained in the country after World War I as a building contractor. Three years later the family relocated to the US and eventually (1930) settled in Los Angeles, California. Bukowski claimed his father beat him with a razor strap 3 times a week from the time he was 6 years old until he was 11, and his mother did nothing to protect him. In his early teens he became an alcoholic. In his 20s he started writing and traveled extensively, finding odd jobs in St. Louis, Atlanta, and elsewhere; the International House Hotel in the Big Easy (a popular nickname for New Orleans, Louiisana) a panel on the 3rd floor is dedicated to him. He spent 17 days in Moyamensing prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for draft evasion in 1944. In his 40s his broadsides and poetry in small presses began to establish his reputation as a "laureate of American lowlife" (as "Time" called him in 1986). He wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and 6 novels -- over 60 books altogether.

  2. In Psalm 139 "golmi" (my golem) was used to refer to the unfinished human before God's eyes. The Talmud's tractate "Sanhedrin" portrayed Adam as a golem created from mud and kneaded into a shapeless husk, but only true humans had the ability to speak. The tractate went on to claim that Rava (Abba ben Joseph bar Ḥama) created a golem but another rabbi Rav Zeira easily discovered its true nature and ordered it to return to its dust. In the 11th century poet/philosopher Shlomo Ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol espoused the doctrine that everything, including soul and intellect, are composed of matter (golem) and form (tzurah); perhaps that belief led to the reports that he created a female golem to perform household chores. The oldest surviving text on how to create a golem was written in the late 12th or early 13th century by Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus, a Kabbalist who used the letters of the Jewish alphabet to perform miracles. In the 17th century Eliyahu ben Aharon Yehudah (the 1st rabbi to be known as Ba'al Shem) created a golem with a combination of letters from one of the names of God. The golem protected Jews from assault and performed manual labor, including housework, but it continued to grow, causing Ba'al Shem to believe it would destroy the world. So he erased the Hebrew letter aleph from its forehead, thus changing the word for truth ("emet") to the word for dead ("met"). As the golem fell to pieces it hell on the rabbi, killing him. Maharal (Judah Loew ben Bezalel) created a gholem in the late 16th century to defend the Praha ghetto from attacks. It was able to make itself invisible and summon spirits from the dead, but it fell in love and went on a murderous rampage after being rejected.


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