This piece of writing reflects on how I was able to use language to express myself in ways that I couldn't before. I was introduced to a new way to put what I was feeling into words, this was a big turning point in my life that allowed me to understand myself and the world around me in a new way.
His name was Bukowski, Charles Bukowski, and he changed the way that I would write for the rest of my life. He was truly insane, a crazy man, but every word he spoke, every verse he wrote was pure poetry, a reflection on mankind that was almost as if he were watching the movement of the world from up above and spat out what he saw. The depressive way that he wrote could also reflect all of the pain that he felt through his life, as if he were baring his soul to us the reader, and then telling us all to go fuck ourselves. I loved it from the first moment, from the first words I heard, “There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out, but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going, to let anybody see you” from the screen as a montage of images were shown in front of me, with an old voice reading the heart wrenching words of a dead man.
“Who is this person? Who wrote this?” I immediately asked. I had never heard writing like this before, I had never felt a poem wrap it's cold, calloused hands around me before. Poetry had always been a chore to me, some assignment that a teacher would hand you and tell you to write your heart on the page, and I never knew what that really meant until now. That night I went home and read through every word that he had written, every thought that he had was now trapped rumbling around in my head. I was then convinced, I was convinced that I could be just like him, I could write just like Bukowski.
I decided to take a try at writing poetry. I let the words play over and over in my head like a broken record, lines kept repeating in my head until I could find the right way to express all of the pain that I had felt, I wanted to put myself into my words just like he had. So I wrote, letting the words flow out of me, and it felt like I had discovered something that I had never known was inside of me. A new medium of expression that allowed me to tell the world how I felt, a way to put the isolating feeling lingered over top of me for years into the minds of those who read my words.
“So you want to be a writer,” he said. “If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. Unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut, don’t do it. If you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen, or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it.” Now I knew what Bukowski meant when he said this, that the only way you could be a true writer is if you have something to say, if you have the emotion to put into it, or the true desire to put your words into the minds of people. There are so many people out there who are writing for the wrong reasons, they want to feel the satisfaction of knowing that they have the deepest or most powerful words, but those who can put the most meaning into their words are not the people who want to write, but the people where all they can do is write, all they have is their words.
There are so many people today who have extensive stories to tell, people who have felt pain, but who don’t have the words to express it like I did. The fact that people all over the world are incapable of reading and writing is a horror, because I know that by using words I was able to find a way to express myself, and I couldn’t imagine an existence where I couldn’t. It is like being trapped in your own head, your body constantly feeding off of your pain until there you have nothing left. No way to release the growling beast inside that could make you one of the greats.
So as I think back over his words, what it seemed like he was saying directly to me. “There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out, but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you.” These words that are scattering throughout my head, eating away at me, and as I look for my response, I write:
If my heart could speak
Its every word would be stifled by your loud screams,
Your insatiable need to be heard by everyone in the room,
Though you don’t have a word to say.
As you fill the room with nonsense that no one wants to hear,
I sit in the corner,
Unheard and undesired,
And though you interrupt every word that anyone has to say,
I let you go on because,
If my heart could speak,
I wouldn’t say a word.