Puget Sound English Department

April 6, 2010

Charles Bukowski, “For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough”

Current student Rachel Fairchild offers up this poem with her comment:

“This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite poems.  It’s written by Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) about his first love, Jane Cooney Baker, who died in 1962. It’s one of many poems in which Jane is mentioned, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more painfully honest and accurate representation about losing someone you love.  One of my favorite ideas woven into this poem is the digression of Bukowski’s faith in God now that Jane is dead.  It starts with Bukowski calling God a “liar” (presumably Christian God, as Bukowski was raised Roman Catholic), to Bukowski calling out to “all gods, Jewish gods, Christ-gods, chips of blinking things, idols, pills, bread” etc… Enjoy.”

For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough
I pick up the skirt,
I pick up the sparkling beads
in black,
this thing that moved once
around flesh,
and I call God a liar,
I say anything that moved
like that
or knew
my name
could never die
in the common verity of dying,
and I pick
up her lovely
dress,
all her loveliness gone,
and I speak to all the gods,
Jewish gods, Christ-gods,
chips of blinking things,
idols, pills, bread,
fathoms, risks,
knowledgeable surrender,
rats in the gravy of two gone quite mad
without a chance,
hummingbird knowledge, hummingbird chance,
I lean upon this,
I lean on all of this
and I know
her dress upon my arm
but
they will not
give her back to me.

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