"Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit" is a collection of poetry by the prolific Charles Bukowski. In a down-to-earth, vernacular free verse, Bukowski poetically explores a number of recurring themes: women and sex, gambling and games of chance, alcohol, cigarettes, his life as a poet, and other writers.
I see Bukowski as a sort of literary philosopher-satyr who often writes about the crude, seedy side of life. Some of my favorite poems from this collection are as follows: "fire station," a bawdy, boozy narrative poem; "a radio with guts," about the narrator's drunken abuse of the title item; and "interviews," an ironic reflection on encounters with "young men from the underground / newspapers and the small circulation / magazines."
In this book the reader will encounter junkies, drunks, and various colorful characters. Bukowski's tone is sometimes melancholy; often the bawdy life of his poems is haunted by the specter of death. And I was intrigued by his occasional literary references: to Dos Passos, Mailer, Rimbaud, Hemingway, and others. Overall, a compelling volume.