One For Old Snaggletooth

Charles Bukowski - Quotes - Goodness can be found sometimes in hell -001


I know a woman
who keeps buying puzzles
pieces that finally fit
into some order.
she works it out
she solves all her
lives down by the sea
puts sugar out for the ants
and believes
in a better world.
her hair is white
she seldom combs it
her teeth are snaggled
and she wears loose shapeless
coveralls over a body most
women would wish they had.
for many years she irritated me
with what I considered her
like soaking eggshells in water
(to feed the plants so that
they’d get calcium).
but finally when I think of her
and compare it to other lives
more dazzling, original
and beautiful
I realize that she has hurt fewer
people than anybody I know
(and by hurt I simply mean hurt).
and she has had some terrible times,
times when maybe I should have
helped her more
for she is the mother of my only
and we were once great lovers,
but she has come through
like I said
she has hurt fewer people than
anybody I know,
and if you look at it like that,
she has created a better world.
she has won.


Francis, this poem is for you.



From: Love Is A Dog From Hell
by Charles Bukowski




Read more of his poetry



This post was inspired through my recent readings of a couple of Charles Bukowski’s books.  When my brother asked me what I might like for Christmas I did my usual shoulder shrug of (don’t ask me, I don’t know).  Then I suddenly said “Oh, if you find some Charles Bukowski poetry books or any of his novels somewhere nice and cheap, that might be interesting!”   And that’s exactly what I got, a poetry book and a novel… very organised my brother!

I thought Love Is A Dog From Hell sounded like poetry I would agree with, how I’ve felt about my own experience of love, or I should say, the lack of it!  But I found it to be nothing like my own experience.  I don’t think me and Charles Bukowski have much in common at all.  I was a child in the 70′s, but I’m fairly sure if I had met him as a woman in those days, I would have found him to be the kind of man I really wouldn’t like!

I have a more open mind these days.  I accept that one type of thinking is not necessarily the only way someone should be, and some people have experienced so much horror, they just can’t be any other way.  Charles is known to have met a lot of women, many brief encounters amounting to nothing more than sex, and a lot of short lived turbulent relationships.  So I was surprised to find this thoughtful poem about a woman he’d had a relationship with when he was younger and they had a daughter.

In a book full of poems where some are laugh out loud funny, others talk of the rough side of life, and many amusing, but so cold and coarse, in a typical Charles Bukowski way I would feel uncomfortable sharing them on this blog, I found it heart warming to read of the softer side of the messed up man… even if he did call her snaggletooth!  I guess he was a lot older when he wrote this poem, he sounded as if he regretted some of his ways and was looking at life and women a little differently.  I’m sure in one way or another those kind of reflections will happen to us all as we age.  I hope, as I did, you find within this poem an insight on the thoughtful side of Charles Bukowski.





47 thoughts on “One For Old Snaggletooth

  1. A couple of things struck me about the poem and the comments

    Your willingness to look beyond the man’s apparent crudeness. Makes me realize, I may not be willing to do that for all. I appreciate your vision that cuts through to the core – objectively.

    Accepting the greys with equanimity.

    I feel like he knew who he was and had decided to live with it. Anything more would have upset even this fragile balance. Sounds too like he had enough distractions to help him forget his limbo.

    The women on the other hand had made her peace with her life and world. He envied that.

    I am still not sure what is overrated – flux or stillness

    1. I think he did envy her peace. It’s a common flaw in people to do that very thing. When I was a teen I can remember feeling a little annoyed at certain things my mother used to say. She was very laid back at life, tolerated much more than she should have from others, at that age, even though we were great friends I didn’t understand her way of being. I was very up and down emotionally, as a lot teens are, and I’m sure I envied my mothers ability to not be as irritated with others as I was. I find it funny now, she was definitely more right than I was. Maybe the extremes of peace or distress are the states of being that others are annoyed by. I try to make sure I have a good balance in my thoughts, but if I was standing outside of myself, I’m not sure what I’d think of my attitude to life. That’s a scary thought! 🙂

    1. Very glad you discovered it. It is a wonderful poem, and very popular on here too. I love Charles Bukowski’s honesty and expressing his realization of the character of the woman he once loved. Thank you for letting me know! 🙂

  2. I recognise myself in old snaggle tooth, and ever since I began ‘listening’ to Bukowski – one of my favourite poems is ‘the six foot goddess’…

    1. You do? Interesting! Yes, I know The 6 Foot Goddess, it’s on page 18 of Love Is A Dog From Hell. It certainly made me laugh, it’s one of the poems I’d call his poetry porn, reminds me of some of the poetry and quotes I’ve read on Tumblr on that subject. I tend to go for his deeper thinking more insightful ones. I do believe Charles Bukowski was a very intelligent man who knew exactly how this world ran, and how people ticked. I like that kind of mind, it’s my kind of thinking, and that’s what I admire most about him.
      Thanks for dropping by, and for the feedback, very much appreciated! 🙂

  3. Somehow I was making a comment on this post and my comment ended up on a different post lol. 🙂

    I’ll have to get the book. I’m eager to read his poems. Thanks for sharing Suzy 🙂

    1. Oh yes it’s an interesting read! He wrote a HUGE amount poetry over the years, so I think there are a lot of his poetry books out there. Certainly keeps you entertained as long as you are not easily offended – his words are raw at times, might not be to everyone’s liking! 😉

  4. This reminded me of a relative of my husband. She had no kids; towards the end of her life she was so lonely and life was miserable for her. I met her in that stage. She had immense love for all creatures, even ants and worms. If she found them on her way she would do everything to ensure their safety. She shared her meagre food with all the cats and birds. Later I learnt she had always been like that. I loved and respected her for being amazingly humane, which may be termed as ‘eccentric’ by ‘smarter’ people. Thank you for sharing, Suzy!

    1. She sounded like such a caring lady, a very unusual personality! 🙂 Probably most of us go around with a blind fold on, failing to see the minute detail in this world. It takes a few exceptional ones to point out what we are missing! I had a grandmother who was classed as ones of those eccentric ones, and I believe from what I’ve been told, it wasn’t age that made her that way, but her true personality – like your relative, the way she had always been. Things I used to find funny about her as a child, I now realise, she actually understood something that all of us didn’t. And isn’t it interesting that we always remember very clearly those so called ‘eccentric’ ones! Our memories of the plain and ordinary, are a lot less defined. 🙂

  5. A wonderful insight to Bukowski’s work! That’s a lovely poem you’ve shared here, and really interesting to read your thoughts! 🙂

    1. Thank you Elina! It is a wonderful insight to his work, I’d say from my point of view it was probably the best poem in the entire book! I like to say a little something on the poetry, because it may help to explain a bit more why I’ve chosen it. Although, this poem is so good, it probably doesn’t really need much said about it! 🙂

  6. interesting find
    I find most of his poetry
    life’s raw crudeness
    and cruelty
    I was very surprised
    by his
    sensitivity in
    your selection

    1. It is an interesting find, I was very surprised by this! I find that in his poetry too, which can be a little depressing if you read too much of it. I take his writing in bite-size readings, always looking for his best – they are there, but he wrote an enormous amount of poetry. So I’ll probably be looking for the good ones for some time! 😉 I’m sure most people have a sensitive side, but some are good at hiding it, and I think he was one of those who hid it well.

      Thank you for the support on Twitter Geo, really kind of you! 🙂 I like the micro poetry on there, could really get into that – I need something to keep me short! 😀

  7. Suzy I absolutely love this poem. You have mentioned him to me before. I hadnt actually heard of him before that. In fact you mentioned him after reading one of my poems and said it reminded you of his style. It must have been one of my rants about MS!! 😄. And yes, there does seem to be a hint of regret in this poem,almost as though he is trying to put things right. Xxx

    1. It is quite wonderful isn’t it?! 🙂 Yes I did mention him after listening to you read your poem at SoundCloud, there was definitely something about that poem that reminded me of his style, and also some of the subjects that he wrote about too. No it wasn’t about MS it was about drinking ‘Alcoholism In Action’ it was called. That was where I left the comment. Maybe also the fact you were talking about drinking also made me make a connection. Charles Bukowski had a permanent reliance on drink, and he made reference to drinking quite a lot!

      I think he may well have being trying to make an attempt to put things right in this poem. It was probably too late, but I’d love to know what she thought of it! 🙂

      1. Ah yes ai remember now! And step 9 of the Twlve Step Program sys “made direct amends to all those we had harmed”. Well sometimes “direct” isnt possible so we do it indirectly. It looks to me like this was an attempt at an indirect amend. Whether he conquered his alcoholism or not he tried throughis poem. That’s what I like to think anyway. 😊 Xx

  8. I liked the poem until I read what you said about him. I don’t think he would have ever attracted me or vise versa. But definitely agree with other comments that you have a wonderful way of reviewing and open up so many thoughts and ideas that I have never considered. And you always seem to be talking with your readers one on one. What a gift you have!

    1. Haha – I know what you mean, he was a slightly strange man, and that’s putting it politely!! 😀 We are not alone in that feeling, going by interviews I’ve seen on You Tube, a lot of people didn’t find him attractive, although they found some aspects about him fascinating. Which pretty much sums up how I feel about the man. He was a peculiar mixture of talent and downright messed up strangeness, and a lot of drunkenness. He was a true alcoholic, and spent most of his time under the influence of alcohol to numb whatever was going on in his mind. Sad, when you think of it like that. Makes me grateful that I don’t have a need to numb my past. I’m not sure what my writing or poetry would be like if I did need that! 😐

      Oh thank you very much, that’s a really lovely thing to say! ❤ Wherever I am, I do try to be myself even on the internet, it feels strange to be anything else. There have been a few who haven't been so keen on me, or what I have to say, but that just proves – you definitely can't please everyone! 😀

  9. Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    Quite often, I find that the difficult and trying times have proven more beneficial in my learning and forming as a human being. I think we pay more attention to what is happening when things are not going well. When we look back, we can see that it was for the better.

    1. Thank you very much for the reblog! 😀 I agree, trying times do appear to be the most beneficial times of learning – I’ve had a lot of those! They do often cause us to grow in a direction we wouldn’t have chosen to grow towards. It seems, as much as they are uncomfortable they are absolutely essential! 🙂

  10. One gets the sense that he realizes he is superficial, and could not help it, but admired her for finding a deeper meaning and love in the world, without miniskirts and high heels. In the end, it sounds like he found some deeper meaning, too. I like your commentary Suzy.

    1. Yes, I’m sure he did get to that point of realising how he had been superficial when younger. Most of us are when we were younger, the mini skirts an high heels do seem essential even for the girls! it takes years for many to learn these simple things of life, sometimes the glaringly obvious!

      Thank you Brenda, I feel some poems need a little said about them, or how I found them. 🙂

    1. It is good to see this side of him! A lot of his poetry is a lot more harsh, and I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t like what he had to say, in the way he conveyed it. It’s not often you see this side of him, although I could be wrong about that, as I have to admit, I’ve not read all his poetry books, and I he wrote a lot of poetry. So maybe there’s a lot more like this to be discovered – I hope so! 🙂

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this poem. Now, I’m interested to see other opens he has written. Thanks for sharing this poem. I’m also glad your brother was able to gift you with what you wanted. 🙂

    1. He was a very truthful writer of poetry, no fluffy romantic stuff from this man, but some of his poetry may offend some readers. He didn’t mind using swear words in his poetry, so not everyone idea of good writing! I don’t always like the way he wrote, but it doesn’t offend me. I like to search for the ones more like this, because to me – that is really good, it makes my day to read something like this! 🙂

      1. He is an excellent writer. I saw somewhere that he wrote over sixty books. I read up on him. That is such an accomplishment over a life span. I tell you Ms Suzy.., you made my day with this one. 🙂

  12. If we could go back in time … If we could have the perspective of the ages … many of us would wish to behave differently. Beautiful poem. I wonder if Charles Bukowski ever shared his thoughts … his regret … with her.

    Kudos to your brother for finding you just the right book that tickled your fancy.

    1. I’m sure a lot of people would, if they had the chance to go back in time and look at the world and the people around them differently. This poem seems very beautiful for Charles Bukowski, that’s what first struck me about it. Although he was a good poet he often wrote quite raw and sometimes crude poetry about a not very happy world and the strange people he met, this was one of his always truthful, but lighter moments in his books of poetry! I wondered about that too, did he ever tell her? I hope he did, but maybe that’s what the poem was for, maybe that was his way of telling her. Annoyingly, we will never know!

      Haha – yes he’s a good brother and extremely good at finding the right present! 😀

  13. That seems a bit sad to me. This short essay is written to tell now he regretted about his view of this women. The things that he considered eccentricities are not that important at all. It leaves me wonders why this has anything to do with win or lose.

    It is hard to tell what would one do way back and from the view of now 🙂

    1. It is sad, I think a lot of life is sad though, maybe it depends which way you look at it. I find the saddest aspect to life is not so much the ageing process, but that people can live their entire lives and never be understood, or never learn to understand someone very close to them. Irritation of all their habits and eccentricities is how they remember someone – I think that’s really sad.

      Obviously in Charles Bukowski’s mind she had won, in terms of succeeding, possibly surrounded by not so nice people, but she hadn’t become like anyone else, she was true to herself. I think for him, and his troubled mind from his childhood he was obviously impressed by that in his senior years. But I agree, success in any form in life is not really about winning or losing, but more about achieving what you’d hoped for. Winning and losing make it sound competitive, but maybe for some, life is very much like that! 🙂

  14. An excellent post! I enjoyed your thoughts, especially given that you are looking back at a time of great change and transition. Your ability to see clearly and distinctly comes from your willingness to be open-minded. Not that you will necessarily agree, but that you will consider another person’s idea and thought process. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Rebecca! I agree, the 70’s was a great time of change in the way some people thought, I was still a bit of a baby, so I kind of missed all of that! 😉 I don’t think I’d want to live my life like Charles Bukowski, but it’s good to be open minded and accept people for who they are and where they are in their thinking, even if you’d prefer not to join them there. If we were all the same, this world would be a very dull place! 🙂

  15. Love this! It really paints a picture in my mind of this person he is talking about. Not a very flattering physical picture, but, it makes me think of an old hippie who wouldn’t use hair dye and tries to live in harmony with the environment. An interesting person, with a good heart. Thanks for sharing this! And for introducing me to this writer.

    1. Yes, he did describe her as possibly a bit of hippie! 🙂 She was obviously someone who as she aged cared little about appearance, which in my opinion is probably a good thing. He obviously realised that as he got older, character was far more important. Although having said that, going by some things I’ve read about Charles Bukowski, I don’t think he was too fussy about what some of the women in his life looked like – I think he just liked women!!

      Thank you for letting know, it’s good to know he’s being discovered! 🙂

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