If Bukowski Was My Pop by Mathieu Cailler

If Bukowski Was My Pop by Mathieu Cailler

If Bukowski Was My Pop by the American author Mathieu Cailler, an amazing poem accompanied by Loren Kantor artwork. Enjoy your day, Yareah magazine friends!

If Bukowski Was My Pop by Mathieu Cailler

Bukowski, woodcut by the artist Loren Kantor

If Bukowski Was My Pop by Mathieu Cailler

If Bukowski was my Pop

he’d tell me not to call him Pop

or Dad

or Daddy—

then he’d do it again…

take a rag of honesty to the rest of life’s sheen,

tell me that it was better to avoid hell

than to seek heaven,

and share that bourbon does to the

liver what love does to the heart.

He’d let me know that Hollywood Park

and Del Mar were more about dreams

than cash. He’d have a smoke,

then tell stories

about the lost angels of Los Angeles:

“You’ll find more wisdom in a bum’s cup

than in a priest’s words,” he’d say.

He’d tell me Céline was prince;

Fante king, and that failure

was being good at something you hated.

“A dream deferred,” he’d confess,

“is like hitting

the Snooze button…

the silence lasts only for

a moment.”

He’d slip me a secret

in his Volkswagen Bug, whisper

in a cigarette voice

while shifting gears…

“You know Ham on Rye?

It was more horror

than literary.

When it happens to you, it’s literary…

when it happens to them, it’s hell…”

He’d tell me what brand to smoke,

what women to chase, and let me know

that bleeding onto the page was the only way.

He’d tell to me to grab a drink,

sit in front of the typewriter, get hypnotized

by the machine-gun sound, and to turn up my

classical music. He’d tell me to be still,

allow my darkness to dance, and to free

my bluebird

as much as I could.

View Comments (17)
  • love this piece!

  • Vee Taylor

    Bluebird! How perfect! Really enjoyed this poem.

    • Lucie A.

      It really is what he would say…isn’t it?! Just adore the line about success. Great work.

  • Sharon

    It really is an amazing poem.

  • (here Martin, editor of Yareah). Congratulations for your poetry, Mathieu. I loved Bukowski when I was young and healthy, heheh. Many thanks for your poem. I love it.

  • frank feldman

    having a beer, reading this poem=wonderous.

  • Fantastic. I do believe he would say all those things. Along with “love people, but love them from afar.” 🙂

  • Izi M.

    I’m about to start teaching a Bukowski class; I think this is the perfect introduction to the man/myth/legend. Thank you, Mathieu!

  • doreen p

    wow…loved this poem…keep them coming…would like to read more of your work. bravo

  • Shirley Omori

    Spectacular poem! You have truly found your passion – what a gift! Thank you for sharing – Bravo! Shirl

  • AMW

    Charles Bukowski, I am honored to say, was a friend of mine. I am certain he would have loved this brilliant poem. A lot.

  • Michael Escobedo

    Wow! Amazing piece man! I enjoyed it a lot!

  • Pingback: Under the Influence by Mathieu Cailler - Yareah Magazine()

  • Drake Rasmussen

    love live Buk! this poem lived up to my Bukowski standards 🙂 Nice stuff!

  • Amazing writing.

  • charles bukowski novels

    I think this is one of the most significant information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general
    things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really excellent :
    D. Good job, cheers


Mathieu Cailler is a poet and award-winning short-story writer. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, his work has been published in numerous literary journals, including Sleet, Two Hawks Quarterly, and Epiphany. Recently, he was awarded the 2012 Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction.

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