The Last (Faxed) Poem of Charles Bukowski

in Literature, Technology | January 30th, 2012

On February 18, 1994, Charles Bukowski had a fax machine installed in his home and immediately sent his first Fax poem to his publisher:

oh, forgive me For Whom the Bell Tolls,
oh, forgive me Man who walked on water,
oh, forgive me little old woman who lived in a shoe,
oh, forgive me the mountain that roared at midnight,
oh, forgive me the dumb sounds of night and day and death,
oh, forgive me the death of the last beautiful panther,
oh, forgive me all the sunken ships and defeated armies,
this is my first FAX POEM.
It’s too late:
I have been

Alas this was also Bukowski’s last poem. Just 18 days after Bukowski embraced technology, the poet (once famously called the “laureate of American lowlife” by Pico Iyer) died of leukemia in California. He was 73 years old. According to John Martin at Black Sparrow Press, the Fax poem has never been published or collected in a book. Booktryst has a whole lot more on the story, and we have the singer/songwriter Tom Waits reading Charles Bukowski’s poem, The Laughing Heart. You can also listen to three other Bukowski poems (in audio) here on YouTube:

Find more great reads in our collection of Free Audio Books.

via Poetry Foundation

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Comments (5)

  1. Henry Chinaski says . . .
    May 12, 2012 / 12:28 pm

    Perhaps not an epic poem, but I like seeing this. It is certainly important for being his last poem and for having been faxed, since Bukowski was a bit of a Luddite. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Asa says . . .
    August 24, 2012 / 7:31 pm

    Not sure he was a complete Luddite? I’ve seen footage of him using a Macintosh.

  3. Rich in Washington says . . .
    August 25, 2012 / 9:38 am

    I think Buk liked any technology that freed up his time or liberated him from obstacles. I imagine, had he lived longer, he would’ve like some aspects of publishing on the web.

    There’s scads of Bukowski audio at the wonderful

  4. Eusebius Clay says . . .
    August 23, 2014 / 12:52 pm

    Please support my poetry project on kickstarter.nMany thanks,nMike

  5. Ryan Schweitzer says . . .
    June 20, 2015 / 12:40 am

    Actually, Charles was hardly a Luddite–he embraced technology head-on a few short years before his death. As Asa mentioned, he did have a Macintosh computer (a Mac IIsi to be exact), with a modem even, so he could send his poems electronically to his publisher. There’s an article that talks about Bukowski’s appreciation of technology:

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