When, in September of 1965, it was suggested to Charles Bukowski that a collection of his letters would be an attractive proposition for publishers and the reading public, the legendary poet quickly set about recovering as much material as he could by way of the following form letter — written in his own inimitable style and sent to everyone with whom he had previously corresponded.
Unfortunately, and despite a healthy response to his plea, that particular collection didn’t materialise. Thankfully, many since have.
an open letter to those who hold my letters to their bellies in the dark closets their lives
Dear mr. miss, mrs. queer, lesbian and so forth,
what the hell, they are stacking the stuff up to smear us like fly smear and you hold onto a couple of ten cent baubles, these editors are attempting to collect a collection, that’s profound enough, and a dog with 3 legs staggers, dogs, flies, ach! what I mean is, don’t be that way – when I wrote you to begin with, I wrote you because I thought you were a real person not a real estate salesman of sorts, and look look, I am drinking here now and I think the sky will fall down, I look around in panic, 45 years dripping from my belly and you hold onto a couple of letters, it’s this, it is a collection, and, shit, it may be YOUR LAST CHANCE AT IMMORTALITY, ah haha ha!
when I wrote these letters I wrote them to you and I wasn’t thinking about a collection because as you must know I was mostly very poor and very unknown and still am, yet, some find interest in these drunken wailings, are you going to kill me like being a screw in a jail? are you going to half-kill me like a whore taking my wallet while I sleep? are you going to fire me like the factory foreman because orders have fallen off? are you going to kick me out like the landlord because I can’t pay the rent, WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS THIS: ARE YOU GOING TO BE LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE LIKE THE PERSON I THOUGHT I WAS WRITING TO? if this sounds like I am begging, then I am: I am begging for faith and a little bit to go on with.
I don’t know the actualities, maybe a big name publisher, maybe just shit smeared onto toilet paper with fingernails, but when I wrote you I felt you, the sound and realness of you, the you you you, myself directing the arrow the heart the crooked music of what was left after the factory the racetrack whatever whatever. I can’t feel you’ll let me down; I can’t feel you’ve grown that dead, if it’s only money money, my god, I’ll try to send you a little each day each week each month; whatever I have.
I ask you out of whatever is left of my soul, out of what tiny bit of gentility and mirror of a sweat shot of sun I have left, please send in your letters and you’ll be received where you should be received: where I met you, say, peeling an orange and talking about Picasso, anything, guts, spirals, pawnshop brokers, rain, almost love, broken doors, donkeys without names. I guess I must sound like a cocksucking preacher, I am tired. I only want all the parts to be all the parts like the river running after the 6 horse. I can’t say anymore, your move and the night grows dank with the sweat of violets pimping.
love, ya ya ya.