Charles Bukowski, 1920-1994


don't undress my love
you might find a mannequin:
don't undress the mannequin 
you might find
my love. 
she's long ago
forgotten me. 
she's trying on a new
and looks more the 
than ever.

she is a
and a mannequin
and death. 
I can't hate 
she didn't do
I only wanted her


Anyone familiar with Bukowski knows his often abrasive, raunchy, nihilistic style. However, this specific work is different in that it deals with themes of love in a more direct and clear way than he may have done in other pieces. Published in his collection Ham on Rye in 1982, towards the end of his life, Bukowski shows a more vulnerable side to his art that he hadn’t in earlier poetry.

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The Red Wheelbarrow

red wheelbarrow

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams1883 – 1963

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

There’s more than a slight chance that you’ve seen this poem before and have been asked to interpret what it means. My seventh grade English teacher had us read this and share our thoughts. Needless to say, we didn’t have many outside of what was explicitly written on the page.

This poem is most widely believed to pay homage to simplicity as is found in the things described: a plain red wheelbarrow, some white chickens, the rain, etc. It is also interpreted as meaning that the world depends upon the farming industry to which we give little to no notice. Both of these ideas are correct, and are probably what William Carlos Williams was trying to convey. Nonetheless, I have what my teacher, Mr. Monaghan, calls a “wacky” interpretation.

I believe this poem to be about pregnancy and the female reproductive system.

Continue reading “The Red Wheelbarrow”