Monthly Archives: November 2012

Marvelous Chances, Your Life

Marvelous Chances, Your Life

Three poems inspired by lines from Charles Bukowski’s poem, “The Laughing Heart.”  Click on the link to watch the entire poem read by Tom Waits.

“The Laughing Heart” read by Tom Waits


I.  Marvelous

 “…you are marvelous. the gods wait to delight in you…”
    —Charles Bukowski

you really are, you know.

marvelous in the most marvelous

sense of the word, provoking

marvel with every breath, every

scripted and unscripted display

of charm. the gods wait

for the delight you will bring

to their stuffy boardroom,

the lilac perfume that will overwhelm

their mothball-scented sweaters

and remind them of youth and spring,

while you just go on being

nothing less than marvelous.


II. Chances

 “…be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them…” 
    —Charles Bukowski


chances live everywhere.

everywhere. climb trees

to see them.  look under

rocks.  lie on your back,

wait for clouds to spell

them out for you.  turn on

the radio, write down

every 11th word, then string

them all together to

know your chances.

and then when you have

watched, listened, found,

touched, known your chances,

take them.  stuff your pockets,

fill the trunk of your car, cram

box after box, and take them

everywhere you go. everywhere.


III.  Your Life

 “…your life is your life. Know it while you have it…”
    — Charles Bukowski


it is yours, and yours alone.

touch it, taste it, feel it, know it.

love it even as you fear it,

and let love steer it everywhere

you’re too scared to go alone.

know it while you have it.

take it out every day for inspection.

study the bumps and the creases,

learn the colors, the flavors. then

close your eyes and make yourself

remember the details so that when

you can no longer see, you will

still know it, you can still live it.

you will not have it as long as you

think you will, but you will be wise

if you know life, especially the one

that is yours, while you have it

and while it has you.



Kennedy’s assassination, 9/11,

The Challenger—you know exactly

where you were, what you wore

when devastation left its handprints

in the cement of your memory.

The first day of school, your first kiss,

your child’s birth—those balloons

of joy will stay inflated forever.

What you must dedicate yourself

to remembering are other moments,

delicate moments pivotal in the story of you.

Remember, for instance, where you stood

when the ache of loneliness introduced itself,

when disappointment first shook your hand.

Recall the plunge of your heart

the first time “sorry” was not good enough,

the first time you snared yourself in a lie.

Remember the loss of equilibrium

when your parents became people

with feelings and flaws.

Go back to the first secret you cradled,

the first kindness delivered in anonymity,

the first hand you led out of fear.

Remember the rhythm of your footsteps

the first time you walked away,

the silence the first time you didn’t.

Conjure the smooth stone you became

the first time you trusted yourself,

the first time you heard your voice

speak words that came only from you.