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Thursday, March 5, 2015

John Yamrus Endure. Tree Killer Ink, 2014 (16 pages)

Yamrus examines the theme of endurance through this collection of twelve short poems. Eight of the poems focus on Yamrus’s wry, ironic take on being an enduring poet, having now published twenty-one volumes of poetry and two novels. The front & back covers are by the enigmatic Swedish artist Janne Karlsson.

My favourite poem, however  in Endure is the portrait poem ‘they’ in which Yamrus takes a different stance on the issue. A sick soul, known as Ballrush, achieves a sense of  enduring memory in his community when:


a pistol,


full of shells,

made those
people in the market

remember that name forever.

This chapbook only just begins to lick at the genius that is John Yamrus. For longer, more considered works, I recommend you start with his collections of poetry doing cartwheels on doomsday afternoon and BARK.

John Yamrus’s Endure is Punk Chapbook #7 of the 2014 Tree Killer Ink series. Check out where to buy the chap and the other titles here:

Visit John Yamrus online at:

Monday, March 2, 2015

The 15 best Bukowski Tattoos Online

I recently fielded an enquiry into a Bukowski quote for a tattoo & it got me thinking about what the quality of Buk tats were online. As you can imagine there is a wide variety of stuff available. In my searches over the last few days I was looking for clarity, important Bukowski quotes which summed up his vision & stunning visuals which appropriated his work.

It didn't take me long to work out that many of the tattoos purported to derive from Bukowski quotes were actually written by other people. As you can imagine, people like to take shortcuts. Why read a big book when you can download a shitload of quotes from say, Goodreads?

Here is a selection of some of the best tats I initially discovered this week attributed to Buk. As you will see, only about 3 of Bukowski's poems can clearly be identified in the collection below.  Very shameful in view of richness & depth of Bukowski's vast outpourings over decades.

Let me know if you have or can alert me to better & more authentic Bukowski tattoos.


The child like drawing of a playground certainly mimics Bukowski's minimalistic style but I cannot find any confirmation that he is attributed in creating the drawing or phrase.


From ‘so you want to be a writer?’:


Disappointingly, this quote appears to be written by Sylvia Plath:


No one on Bukowski Forum can verify whether this is a legit Bukowski quote:

#11 DON't Try- a phrase taken from Bukowski's headstone.

Find a photo here of his grave site:


Although the below quote is attributed to Buk a simple search through brainpickings reveals it was written by the poet Dorianne Laux in her poem Antilamentation:


From a Life Magazine 1988 interview? In David Stephen Calonne's best collection of Buk intereviews- CHARLES BUKOWSKI: Sunlight Here I Am: Interviews & Encounters 1963-1993 Life magazine fails to get a mention:

#8 ART



Interestingly, the Quote Investigator is unable to find any definitive Bukowski source to attribute the quote to him:


Bukowski's poem 'Bluebird' is perhaps his most widely known poem & has spawned more tats than any other of his works. The poem is an unusual blend of sentiment and emotional toughness. There are three excellent examples of tattoos below. Find the original poem here:



I prefer the tat 2 photos below to the more cluttered finished product here:



This tattoo shows fragments from one of Bukowski's best poem 'Dinosauria, we' and the first words of the poem 'born into this' became the title on an important documentary film on his life: BORN INTO THIS (2003). Find the poem here:

I like the experimental feel of this tattoo which tries to incorporate some of the central images of the poem.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Charles Bukowski Tattoo Narrative

I received an unusual request from an Argentinean reader a few days ago. He had read my review in Bold Monkey of Bukowski’s Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook and he sought help about a phrase in the story ‘Distractions in the Literary Life’ which first appeared in High Times (June 1984). He wanted to use a phrase from the story and tattoo it onto his body.

The reader had a Spanish translation of a fragment in the story which read “no te mueras en mi infinidad.” He wanted to know what the original phrase was in English. Google initially translated the fragment to me as “DO NOT DIE IN MY INFINITE.” I quickly found Buk’s words at the bottom of page 199 in Portions and it read as follows: “DON’T DIE ON MY INFINITY.”

The context of the quote is hilarious and makes the tat a particularly unique and impressive one. Most of the Buk tattoos you view online are achingly sentimental in the 'Blue Bird' tradition. ‘Distractions in the Literary Life’ is a clever eight-page meta-fictional story, a product of Bukowski’s outrageous imagination. One very hot summer night his alter ego Chinaski types out a “dirty story for one of the mags” on a broken table and it begins to tilt. After buying a deal of coke and getting some close attention from his girlfriend Sandra, he returns to his story.

He begins typing a story about a guy with an odd fascination with a very large mammal. The writing is bizarre but highly memorable. He is disturbed momentarily.

“Hey, Jack Off! Sandra hollers from the other room, “you writin’ some good shit?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know how to end it.”

“Have them drop the fucking bomb.”

“Hey, great! I’ll do it! Nobody, nobody has written a story like this!”

Just then the table leg gives way and I only have time to grab the bottle as the typer crashes to the floor. Never happened to Mailer or Tolstoy. I take a slug from the bottle, then go over to the old typer. Don’t die on me, m.f., in any way at all…It has landed upright. I sit down on my ass, reach out, and tap at the keys. I type: DON’T DIE ON MY INFINITY. It types me right back, like that. It’s tough, like me. I take a drink of joyful celebration for the both of us. Then I get bright: I decide to type on the m.f. floor, I will finish typing the m.f. floor. Celine would dig that.”


The short story then morphs off in typical twisted Buk tropes. It’s not clear what Bukowski meant by the phrase “DON’T DIE ON MY INFINITY.” In his many interviews he often spoke about wanting to create "immortal" poems and stories. My guess is that in this story as his typewriter crashes to the floor he is hoping his typer will continue to pour out his creative juices & will not fail him. The typewriter, in fact, seems to take on a life on its own- somehow channelling Bukowski’s thoughts as “it types me right back.”

In the final analysis, the story is highly successful. Certainly no one has written a story quite like 'Distractions of a Literary Life.’ Certainly it takes a brave soul to personalise a Bukowski phrase in a permanent tattoo engraving on one's body part. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Featuring William Taylor Jr

The Next Thing

At this point I can't begin
to guess what might be
left of me.

Sometimes you lose the rhythm of things,
the music goes funny
and the sky forgets your name.

I just know the demons
aren't going anywhere anytime soon,
so  I drink with them on Sunday afternoons,
trying to negotiate some kind of
workable deal,

while down in the alley
a withered woman begs quarters
from confused tourists.

She's having a bad time of it

as the girls stand outside the nudie bars,
half naked and smoking,
as beautiful and as mean
as the sun.

I watch them as the pretty waitress
brings my medicine

and think about how I'll
have to go back to work tomorrow,
and with little sleep,

and how the waitress
and the girls outside the clubs
one day won't be pretty,
or even alive,

and I'm feeling kind of sad for everything
and how there's nothing to be done
for any of it,

as we all go about our business,
waiting for the next thing
to break.

What the Fear Tells Me

The great  animal fear of the world
is what stays with us,
is what our bones are made of.

Love burns off in the sun,
strength gives way,
anything you can name
slips through your shaking hands.

The fear sleeps, but it's never far
from the surface of things.
Those who say otherwise
are liars and always running.

God's an empty bottle
in the face of it,
whatever you've constructed
to keep it at bay
gives like splintered wood.

It's a fine afternoon;
there's wine and sunlight,
pretty girls beneath it.

But the fear is there in every shadow.

I drink beer to try and keep it quiet,
offer these words
as a kind of appeasement,

but it's in me like a heart.

I dearly want to call
and tell you this,
because I think you'd

but the fear tells me
you won't pick up,

and it's probably right;
just like when says

I should have listened to my father,

and how I'll never find
a good ending
for this poem.

All That Fire

Eventually you end up
wherever it is
that trouble leaves you,

caught like a wounded thing
between all the days behind you
and those still to come

with nothing much
to say for yourself.

But that girl,
she really knew
how to burn.

The thought of her caught
forever in those flames
she wore like skin,

and laughing
the way she did,

its the kind of beauty
that leaves scars
in secret places;

the kind of beauty that breaks you
in ways you didn't know
you could break.

And while even people like yourself
eventually do their best
to forget and move on,

her ghost still burns
in dreams and the spaces
between things,

and the world is just the ash.

William Taylor Jr.
940 Post St. # 1
San Francisco,  CA  94109

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including The New York Quarterly, The Chiron Review, and Poesy. An Age of Monsters, his first book of fiction, was published by Epic Rites Press in 2011. The Blood of a Tourist (Sunnyoutside, 2014) is his latest collection of poetry. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Acker Award.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Featuring the poetry of Jon Bennett

Off a cliff

Oftentimes I think
I should learn to parasail
or surf, maybe boogie board
but then I think
so much trouble
and besides
I’m already going
in a straight line.


Ronny was in the circus
I don’t know what it was he did
because he was born with cerebral palsy
he’s not in it anymore
mostly he just drinks
“I used to have this girl,” he tells me,
“we’d get a tank of gas
and when it was half down
wherever we were, we’d camp
those were good times, now
I can hardly walk.”
He’s been waiting for me to listen
but I’ve had a rough year.
“Good times,” he says
and I can’t help but feel
we’re both on empty.

Soda Pop Man

His route took him to
Temptations, Centerfolds, The Lusty Lady,
all the full nude places
could only sell soda, no alcohol.
“I touched her beaver,” he’d say, or,
“I got her autograph.”
There was sawdust on his glasses
and he always squinted
because he worked in perpetual dark
I couldn’t imagine him in anything
besides coveralls that said, “Arlin”
in that nice cursive.
I would pay him out
the two of us in a cloud
of that cheap perfume
you want to say you hate
but like orange pop,
the sweeter it was
the better.

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.  His novel, 'The Unfat,' sci-fi involving autism, is available on Amazon, and his CD 'Submarine,' through iTunes, Spotify and Pandora.  You can purchase signed copies of either by contacting him at