Bukowski is not just any poet. He is the “laureate of American lowlife” as Time called him 30 years ago. But “Bukowski” is also a mood, a state of mind, that’s rational even healthy in small doses. For me, this state is achieved usually with the help of alcohol and the perfect mix of love and a long walk home alone. These days, I drink maybe 3-4 times a year, usually to excess and in celebration of tradition. Vodka on New Year’s eve is, for me, a heart-warming tradition. A lot of my happiest memories are as a little kid in Russia, aged in the single digits. I remember people drinking, I remember people smoking (in the kitchen), I remember people laughing, singing, and being happy.
A small piece of that remains in every December 31st. And in the morning, the cold air fills my lungs with fresh possibilities, as I make my way home. Every day is there for the taking. And the poetry of Charles Bukowski, that usually seems trite and phony, reads like it’s transcending Shakespeare.
I made it home alive, happy, and ready for a new year full of possibility and style, as defined by Bukowski:
Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art
Bullfighting can be an art
Boxing can be an art
Loving can be an art
Opening a can of sardines can be an art
Not many have style
Not many can keep style
I have seen dogs with more style than men,
although not many dogs have style.
Cats have it with abundance.
When Hemingway put his brains to the wall with a shotgun,
that was style.
Or sometimes people give you style
Joan of Arc had style
John the Baptist
I have met men in jail with style.
I have met more men in jail with style than men out of jail.
Style is the difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water,
or you, naked, walking out of the bathroom without seeing me.