They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
This is one of my favorite Larkin poems!
When they told us Don’t speak until spoken to, we grew
ears the size of corn.
When they forced us to eat everything we swallowed
their hurt whole.
When they hit us for drawing on the wall we painted
doors that opened behind curtains.
For generations they lived like this. Wanting badly to
save us—not knowing how.
& all the while we found love in unlikely places: In
the ravaged church of our bodies & our faces,
refracted in their long faces.
at one time
when I was 16
a few writers gave me
my only hope and
my father disliked
my mother disliked
books (because my father
especially those I brought back
from the library:
D. H. Lawrence
I had my own bedroom
but at 8 p.m.
we were all supposed to go to sleep:
“Early to bed and early to rise
makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,”
my father would say.
“LIGHTS OUT!” he would shout.
then I would take the bed lamp
place it under the covers
and with the heat and hidden light
I would continue to read:
they gave me a chance and some hope
in a place of no chance
no hope, no feeling.
I worked for it.
it got hot under the covers.
sometimes the sheets would begin to smoke
then I’d switch the lamp off,
hold it outside to
without those books
I’m not quite sure
how I would have turned
murderer of the father;
when my father shouted
I’m sure he feared
the well-written word
in our best and
and it was there
close to me
under the covers
more woman than woman
more man than man.
I had it all
I took it.
by Charles Bukowski from Bone Palace Ballet: New Poems (1997)