“A Vote For the Gentle Light” by Charles Bukowski (repost)

     a vote for the gentle light

burned senseless by other people’s constant
I pull the curtains apart,
aching for the gentle light.
it’s there, it’s there
I’m sure.

oh, the faces of depression, expressions
pulled down into the gluey dark.
the bitter small sour mouths,
the self-pity, the self-justification is
too much, all too much.
the faces in shadow,
deep creases of gloom.

there’s no courage there, just the desire to
possess something––admiration, fame, lovers,
money, any damn thing
so long as it comes easy.
so long as they don’t have to do
what’s necessary.
and when they don’t succeed they
become embittered,
they imagine that they have
been slighted, cheated,

then they concentrate upon their
unhappiness, their last
and they’re good at that,
they are very good at that.
they have so much unhappiness
they insist upon your sharing it

they bathe and splash in their
they splash it upon you.

it’s all they have.
it’s all they want.
it’s all they can be.

you must refuse to join them.
you must remain yourself.
you must open the curtains
or the blinds
or the windows
to the gentle light.
to joy.
it’s there in life
and even in death
it can be

“A Vote For the Gentle Light” by Charles Bukowski from What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, published by Black Sparrow Press.

* originally shared 4/21/14


5 thoughts on ““A Vote For the Gentle Light” by Charles Bukowski (repost)

  1. Oh boy, I know a couple of people like this who I’ve been trying for years to buoy up. Bukowski got it perfectly! Just recently I realize- it took me a long time- that they are married to their misery, and that my efforts to help are not only futile but are doomed to always leave me feeling depleted and sad myself. Oh how I would love to share this poem with them! But that of course would be mean. Instead I will just refuse to join them… (be still my bleeding heart….

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    1. The image of folks splashing around in their bathtubs of misery is just so vivid. I’m guilty of doing my own splashing from time to time, but I try not to wallow for long.
      I think those of us moved by poetry and the arts are more empathetic than most and are left more depleted and drained by others’ doom and gloom. Energy vampires, I’ve heard them called, and they will bleed you dry if you’re not careful.


    1. It really Does, doesn’t it? I think that’s one of the reasons I like it so much, because it’s so unexpected from him. Ala Bluebird and Laughing Heart and No Help For That and Nobody but You and maybe Lost.

      Did you ever hear Tom Waits reading Laughing Heart? Crazy old Tom reading Crusty old Chuck…it’s perfect.


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