Charles Bukowski Reads His Poem “The Secret of My Endurance”

–From Dan­gling In The Tourne­for­tia (1982)

I still get let­ters in the mail, most­ly from cracked-up
men in tiny rooms with fac­to­ry jobs or no jobs who are
liv­ing with whores or no woman at all, no hope, just
booze and mad­ness.

Most of their let­ters are on lined paper
writ­ten with an unsharp­ened pen­cil
or in ink
in tiny hand­writ­ing that slants to the

and the paper is often torn
usu­al­ly halfway up the mid­dle
and they say they like my stuff,
I’ve writ­ten from where it’s at, and
they rec­og­nize that. tru­ly, I’ve giv­en them a sec­ond
chance, some recog­ni­tion of where they’re at.

it’s true, I was there, worse off than most
of them.
but I won­der if they real­ize where their let­ters
well, they are dropped into a box
behind a six-foot hedge with a long dri­ve­way lead­ing
to a two car garage, rose gar­den, fruit trees,
ani­mals, a beau­ti­ful woman, mort­gage about half
paid after a year, a new car,
fire­place and a green rug two-inch­es thick
with a young boy to write my stuff now,
I keep him in a ten-foot cage with a
type­writer, feed him whiskey and raw whores,
belt him pret­ty good three or four times
a week.
I’m 59 years old now and the crit­ics say
my stuff is get­ting bet­ter than ever.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.