On my nightstand is an ever-changing pile of books. During the week, the pile becomes more and more precarious as I keep adding on whatever I'm reading at the moment, often sending books tumbling onto the bed or down to the floor. On Thursdays, the cleaning lady comes in and puts most of them away (usually somewhere where I can't find them), and tidies the remaining books into a neat pile, organized by size. One of the few books that has managed to remain at my bedside for months now is Love is a Dog From Hell.
As I have said before, I am not one for poetry, most of the time. There are, of course, exceptions. Bukowski is one of them. If I were to be honest I have to say that it is the titles of his books that first caught my attention, pulled me to where the rushing waters of his words closed over my head, carried me away. Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame. The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills. What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through The Fire. When I look at the titles I feel that quick flare of excitement beneath my heart, that shiver beneath the skin. But Love is a Dog From Hell is my favorite. (I am nearly tempted to have those words tattooed somewhere on my body, except for the fact that I have a profound fear of a) needles and b) permanence. I will settle for marrying a man who will have those words engraved inside our wedding rings, if that day ever comes. Because I am very slightly more likely to overcome my fear of permanence than I am my fear of needles).
When I read it I wonder if maybe if love really is a dog from hell. Whatever that means. It certainly makes more sense than anything else I've been told about love. The poems are about writing and drinking and women and sex and love (and how those last three don't always go together) and music and beer and gambling and god knows what else but when I start reading I can't stop and when I stop reading I fall asleep and dream dreams, Bukowski dreams and then I wake up and wonder when my life became this kind of life where I drank beer and read Bukowski in baths with bubbles threatening to cascade onto the floor and a bottle of scotch on the mat next to the tub. (I don't usually do that last thing, just that one time when the power went out and I was reading by candlelight with a drink balanced on the rim of the tub next to my shoulder). I can't find my favorite poem just now, which is always what happens, you can't find the one thing you want right when you want it, it finds you when you least expect it. But in the process of looking I may stumble upon something I love even more.