It’s been a long time since I’ve read poetry. I’ve never read a poetry book cover to cover. It almost feels weird reading it like that. Like that time I tried to read a choose your own adventure without making any choices…
I added Charles Bukowski’s The Pleasures of the Damned to my reading list based on a recommendation. When I bought it I wasn’t sure it was his poetry. It’s been good. Better than anticipated. There’s a reason Bukowski has a following. There have been quite a few of his poems that stood out.
About ¾ of the way through the book there are three poems with similar themes that happened to line up with some of my hard-to-articulate thoughts.
For this post, I’ll focus on one of them. If you’re interested in the others you can look up “my friend William” and/or “starve, go mad, or kill yourself”.
I am the house next door. The predictable schedule. The same day in and day out. It’s not really where I thought I would end up, but I also can’t complain about it.
Right now it’s a battle of expectations. Fighting against the vague youthful thoughts of what life would be like. Then being surprised when they didn’t materialize. I am left with the emptiness of the aftermath. Unfortunately, it’s full of self-deprecation. Questioning how I got here or why I allowed it to happen. In the same breath, I recognize everything I have.
The sobering reality is that as a kid I vowed to never be average. And I have, despite that vow, or maybe in spite of that vow become average. It’s that reconciliation that I struggle with.
I am not as important as I thought
I’m not as smart as I thought
I’m not as talented as I thought
I’m not as clever as I thought
I doubt my abilities
I doubt my motives
I doubt my intentions
When I first read this poem I assumed that it was all these things that fueled the fear that kept me in the house. I don’t think that’s the whole truth. The other side of that has been my unwillingness to recognize I was in the house in the first place.
One of the downfalls of being a default optimist has been my natural detachment from reality. If I don’t like my reality I will ignore it.