The Laughing Heart

What matter most is how well you walk through the fire
— Charles Bukowski


I used to read some of Charles Bukowski's poems in my mid-twenties. While Jack Kerouac (another great American poet) used to make me want to hit the road and go traveling, reading Bukowski always made me want to have a drink and somehow, to rebel. His nothing-to-lose truthfulness on his poems made him a cult hero. At least for me in my drunk mid-twenties years.

When I first read The Laughing Heart, there was a rebellious, hopeful and strong sentiment about this poem that always made me kick the ass out of fear, and somehow do what I wanted. Even if in some of these decisions were accompanied by my coffee cup full of red wine and a few chupitos. Just like Bukowski himself. I was doing what I wanted. 

Well, my twenties are long gone,  and so are the chupitos, but the poetry stayed. 

Bukowski's The Laughing Heart poem is one of my all-time-favourite and it continues to touches me deeply.  It is an amazing piece of poetry.

Here it is;


The Laughing Heart


"your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.

be on the watch.

there are ways out.

there is light somewhere.

it may not be much light but

it beats the darkness.

be on the watch.

the gods will offer you chances.

know them.

take them.

you can’t beat death but

you can beat death in life, sometimes.

and the more often you learn to do it,

the more light there will be.

your life is your life.

know it while you have it.

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you."

                                                                                                                 by Charles Bukowski


The quote “Clubbed into dank submission” is a feeling that I can relate to pretty well, dealing with depression and the occasional sadness that knocks my door from time to time, sometimes it’s very difficult to remember that your life really is your life to live. 

This poem is one of the powerful tools that I use to boost my mood and lift myself up. It has helped me through some grey moments. It has made me get up in the morning and do stuff, it reminds me that there is hope out there. There is a light somewhere. That your life is yours to live, know it while you have it. You are marvelous and this poem is a beauty.

Be well folks, be on the watch. 

Roddy X