Bukowski Quotes, Ranked


Bukowski Quotes, Ranked

American poet/writer/cynic Charles Bukowski (b. 1920 d. 1994) is eminently quotable, and his efficient, uninflected prose and poetry make for excellent slogans. Although most of his most famous phrases are longer than what you could get on a T-Shirt, they fit well within what you can use for a status update, cover photo, or tweet. As with all great writers, the bad get lumped in with the good as if all were of equal value, when in fact some of his bon mots are … less wise than others. So here, in order from the terrible through to the transcendent (think of it as ‘worst to first” for those of you who are going to have to google ‘transcendent’) , I’m going to present and discuss six of the most common Bukowski quotes


“She is mad but she is magic, there is no lie in her fire”.

Ah, the rallying cry for bat-shit insane women everywhere, women who are in fact, only ever mad, and will, in due course, start fires. But there is no magic, there never was, and there never will be.

Pro-tip: If you ever see a woman quote this or use it as a Facebook status/cover photo run, don’t walk, as far away from her as fast as you can.

Bukowski was considered a bit of a misogynist by many. I don’t know if this is true but this phrase is his gift to misandry.

Not that good:

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”

He may have intended this as a paean to masochism, a sop thrown to the crowd that believes that there is some sort of nobility in suffering, especially of the kind self-inflicted through vice. Hey may even have believed it. In this case its worth noting that Hank loved booze, cigarettes, (younger) red-heads, and playing the ponies … and died of leukemia. I doubt he loved leukemia.  It killed him anyway.


“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

I do not think of Bukowski as a motivational speaker but there it is.

You know, if this gets you up off of the floor than who am I to criticize? Unlike the previous two quotes I can’t see this one actually hurting anyone. Believe it or not self-proclaimed misanthrope Bukowski had a few quotes in this same pop-psych power-of-positive-thinking vein and for me it was a toss-up between this one or “You are marvelous, the Gods wait to delight in you”. Same thing really, and note how I just sneaked in an additional quote there. In regards to “Death” or “The Gods” Bukowski, if not an actual member of any known Atheist organization, was at the very least a non-theist but like all non-theists he probably had a lapse or two.

I do wonder if he wrote the more positive phrases he’s associated with while pleasantly buzzed and some of his darker stuff while sober, cold, and very, very alone.

Now you are talking:

“You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”

Check any back-and-forth on any election thread on any form of social media and you’ll see a lot of grandiose romanticism, and a whole lotta politics. It’s all just talk.

I had a girlfriend once, certifiably insane, who would give every single homeless person she saw some money. “That pee-stained skeevy bastard needs a bath and someone to make sure he takes his meds” I’d tell her, “And not money. He’ll just use it to huff glue.”

“A dollar helps him right here, right now” she’d say.

She lived the rest of her life by the “She’s mad …” quote and might have been the worst person I have ever known (1) – save in regards to the homeless, where I think she saved one person at a time for as long as a dollar or five would save them.


“It’s the order of things: Each one gets a taste of honey, then the knife”

This one is from the poem “The Proud Thin Dying” and should be quoted more often – it is light and darkness and everything all in one quote. I have to believe that when most people read this they believe themselves to be getting the knife when in fact they taste the honey. That’s what I like so much about it. It satisfies something deep within me.


The Problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

And so it has ever been.

Remember, if you have ever posted publicly on any matter pertaining to a US presidential election or party nomination for president – you are not one of the smart ones.


Believe it or not the hardest part of this list was keeping at five-ish quotes. Bukowski wrote over a thousand poems, a hundred short stories, six novels, and seemed not to shy away from interviews. Hell, his phone number was listed in the public phone directory for years. Everyone has a Bukowski quote/story.

At any rate, you can quote (and post those quotes) from Bukowski until the cows come home. Just don’t do it too much or you’ll find yourself in just a t-shirt and underwear skyping with some fatty from Cleveland at 2 in the morning.

Over and out amigos, amigas. I post in flurries, God only knows when I’ll be back.


(1) A reader reached out to remind me that the noted is not technically the worst person I have ever known and quite possibly not even in the top ten. I admit, I write these things with more than a little hyperbole so I have added this disclaimer/footnote.

As an aside, if it bothers you, quit coming back and reading it.


We Were Young Once, & Went to Motley Crue

The Crue!

Editor’s note: The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Now that I have your attention: My Motley Crue concert story. I have seen them twice back in the 80’s – first time I and three other guys went up early and hotel-ed it so we could pre-game the show like professionals. When it was time to leave 3 of us split a 26 of Jack in 3 Super Big Gulps (the fourth guy was a “Herbal Magic” guy and felt himself to be morally superior to us drinkers) and then hit the C-Train. It was a festive ride to the Saddledome (we weren’t the only metal heads on the train) – except for one dour old lady seated across from us who looked at us with absolute contempt. I raised an eyebrow and offered up my super-biggie. Share and share alike right? We are all bothers/sisters in metal. Her eyes narrowed to slits and her lips were pursed in a tight line. No go. Ah well. Eventually I went on to become an obscure writer of hard-to-categorize stories and she died and was reincarnated as a stringy little weed. 

Post C-Train rolling soiree with Grandma No-Fun we get out @ Saddledome and walk on in with the horde of happy headbangers. There’s me, Herbal Magic, Angry Guy (He’s always po’d about something), and Bruisermania – Bruisermania is about 5’10” and weighs a buck-twenty-five soaking wet – thus the nickname. We’re rollin’ – and there are a lot of girls with big hair, tight jeans, air-brushed make-up and those little boots with the tassles. And you know what? I fuckin’ love it. The only bad news is that Herbal Magic has gone full Rasta – he’s catatonic. He’s like Elvis Presley on a foggy night. Fucked up and far from home. Gut shot. East bound and down. All of it. “I need to sit down” he says. It’s the last thing he says all night. I lead him by the crook of the arm to our assigned seating. Angry Guy and Bruisermania head on down to the floor (rush seating) ready to rock with the girls with big hair and little boots. Hey – it’s the 80’s.

Autograph is first up and you know what? They’re pretty good. TURN UP THE RADIO … still one of the best guitar solos of all time) and all that and it’s looking to be a great rock and roll show.

They get the crowd pumped for the Crue, who in due course hit the stage.

Three songs in a St John’s ambulance guy comes over to me and tells me, “We have your friend, Bruisermania – he’s hurt and has to go to emergency.” Thank God for Herbal Magic’s coma because that’s the only reason we are in our assigned seats – matching up ticket info to location was how St. John’s found us. I leave Herbal Magic and follow the St. John’s guy and there, in a little room, is Bruisermania and Angry Guy. “What happened?” I ask.

“Basically, some c*cksucking m*otherf*cking c*nts suckered me” Bruisermania says.

“I think he fell off of a chair” says Angry Guy.

“We called a cab.” Says St John’s guy. “He’s gotta go to emergency. I think he’s got a broken collarbone.”

I look at Angry guy. He shrugs and wanders away.

Bruisermania and I get in the cab – the cabbie says he got a call to take a guy to Holy Cross with a suspected broken collarbone. What happened?

“Basically, some c*cksucking m*otherf*cking c*nts suckered me!” Bruisermania says.

“He might have fallen off of a chair,” I say.

“Better you than me,” says the cabbie and it’s off to Holy Cross.

The physician at Holy Cross is prompt. No sooner is Bruisermania admitted and poured into a wheelchair than she is there. “What happened to you?” she asks.

“Basically, some c*cksucking m*otherf*cking c*nts suckered me!” Bruisermania says. The concert was loud, he’s shouting this to be heard over the speakers back at the ‘dome.

“Some other people say he fell off of a chair,” I say, helpfully.

“How much has he had to drink?” She asks me.

I answer truthfully.

A half hour later he’s out – broken collarbone – and in a sling fortified by some T3’s. Yes – T3’s – For a 125-pound guy who has had 1/3 of a 26 of Jack Daniel’s and a few super cans of Molson Canadian.

We cab it back to the hotel where we decide fuck it, if we are screwed out of Motley Crue we can always have a few post game beverages at the club in the hotel. Unfortunately I am wearing a Jack Daniel’s long-sleeved t-shirt and am denied entry for “wearing biker regalia”. I shit you not. “But you serve Jack right?” I ask. “Not to bikers” the bouncers say in unison. For the record, I have never ridden a motorbike in my life. Not then, and not now. Bucket list I guess. But I digress.

Bruisermania and I shrug it off and hit the lounge (I guess they admit bikers) for a couple of Pilsners (aka Green Diesel/Saskatchewan Champagne) and some sports highlights.

The next day, on the ride home, no one said a word until we made a pit stop at the Claresholm 7-11 – the most famous 7-11 in the whole world. We all got out and started to walk in when Bruisermania stopped and said “Did I really fall off of a chair last night?”

Rock on.

\m/ \m/


Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock

My short story “Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock” is up live at Bull: Men’s Ficton, and you can read it Here

Much thanks to the editorial crew @ Bull for putting it up – you should go give them a “like” on their Facebook Page and while you are at it throw another “like” down on my story.

For those of you who saw “The Big Short” (or read Michael Lewis’ excellent book) and saw the “Great Recession” from the top end, where the dice are rolled a billion dollars at a time – this story is from the trenches. A former title insurance rep deeply upside down on his own mortgage works as a cog in  the foreclosure industry machine now and every day is just a little bit worse than the day before. Where do you go? What do you do?

Rock on,




Indolence & Rhyme

My short story “Indolence and Rhyme” is in Toasted Cheese Issue 16.2 and you can read it Here

“Indolence … ” is a short story but if you have ambitions to write poetry and hope to ever be paid or even merely well-thought of you should read it less as a story and more as a prophecy.

I am very pleased to have a story in Toasted Cheese – TC has been around since the dawn of the internet (2001) and has won numerous awards over that time span as one of the best writing sites on the net.

Strange Factoid: The poems that form part of the narrative of this story were the first poems I ever wrote. Since that time I’ve had a few published but they all started here.

Read & enjoy you slack-jawed Troglodytes, I’ll be back with another publication credit Monday and hopefully (but not likely) news of a lottery win at which point I need never blog again.




Cursum Perficio

photo 1 (2)

My short story “Cursum Perficio” is up and available for free download at Penny Shorts. You can read it Here

You’ll need to open an account at Penny Shorts to download this story but it is painless, cost-less, and they don’t spam – I know because I have an account there.

“Cursum Perficio” is a Latin phrase that (roughly) translated means “Here the journey Ends” – I believe that it was the inscription above the threshold of the last home Marilyn Monroe owned. It’s also the title of a song by Enya.

The story itself is a lighthearted love triangle set in a cemetery – a departure from my usual guns-n-boobs fare. I hope you like it.

Rock on,