this time has finished me.
I feel like the German troops
whipped by snow and the communists
with newspapers stuffed into
my plight is just as terrible.
maybe more so.
victory was so close
victory was there.
as she stood before my mirror [...]
"the retreat" (198)
Love is a Dog From Hell gives us a much more... carnal Bukowski than I... remember? expected? Cock and balls, cunt and masturbation, watching schoolgirls, blowjobs, and wanking off as he sits in his car. It's most unrelenting in the first section -- "one more creature / dizzy with love" -- but is pulled throughout.
It reads too like a Bukowski discovering his fame -- not in wonder, or with youthful exuberance, nor with weariness or delight. His fame (and notoriety) is the subject of much of his poetry, but here there is a sense of discovery, as if it's something new worth exploring.
It doesn't feel as if he's wearied of it yet.
What we get is mostly Bukowski. Not Hank or Chinaski -- though a few of these creep in late in the collection (as does a Salomski in "Twins") -- which in itself is rather striking. And there is the stark push pull that characterizes so much of his work (and which, probably, makes it and him such a draw -- lending a thoughtful credibility [or is it patina?] -- aside from the cheap thrill of hanging out at the track, in the dive bar, and with drunks and whores even at such a remove):
sometimes you make a mistake, taking
the wrong poem
more often I make the mistake, writing
"for Al—" (90)
people need me. I fill
them. if they can't see me
for a while they get desperate, they get
"Chopin Bukowski" (101)
I think we all hope for something of the latter, and realize the former is much more likely our fate.