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Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994) had a gift for creating evocative titles, including the title for his 1972 collection of poetry, "Mockingbird Wish Me Luck". The title is apt. It derives from a beautiful poem, one of Bukowski's finest, "Mockingbird". I read Bukowski's poem as a parable on death and loss and cruelty. During the summer, a mockingbird has been following and taunting a cat. In response to the taunting, Bukowski writes that the cat "said something angry to the mockingbird/which I didn't understand." One day, Bukowski sees the cat walk "calmly up the driveway" with the bird alive in its mouth "no longer mocking." Bukowski writes "it was asking, it was praying/but the cat/ striding down through centuries/ would not listen." The cat crawls under a car with its prey "to bargain it to another place." And Bukowski concludes, "summer was over".

Not every poem in this volume is as effective as "Mockingbird." Bukowski was a prolific but erratic writer of short, unrhymed and unmetered poetry. Bukowski wrote in the language of common speech, punchy and colloquial. At its best, his writing has passion, rawness, a tough vulgarity, and, frequently a sardonic humor. His poetry tends to be autobiographical, but he also writes short scenes and narratives, such as "Mockingbird." In the early parts of this volume, Bukowski writes effectively of the life of the urban poor, his experiences with women, his life at the racetrack, and his thoughts on writing poetry. The themes of his poems are frequently dark, including loneliness, death, suicide, and aging. The poems in the latter part of the volume begin to take a more positive, mellower tone, as Bukowski writes of his love for his wife and for his young daughter.

Besides "Mockingbird," the poems I enjoyed in this volume include "the last days of the suicide kid", Bukowski's reflections on growing old, "My friend William", a story of a friend who seemingly had attained success in his career and in his marriage, "consummation of grief", in which Bukowski writes that "I was born to hustle roses down the avenue of the dead", the poem "he wrote in lonely blood", Bukowski's tribute to his fellow California poet Robinson Jeffers, "a sound in the brush", a story of a casualty of war, "american matador", on the theme of sex and death, and, on, one of Bukowski's preoccupations, "I saw an old-fashioned whore today".

The poems I have mentioned show the qualities of Bukowski, the toughness and grit, that will be familiar to most of his readers. I want to conclude with a poem by Bukowski that shows a part of him that may be less familiar. This poem, "marina" is written to his young daughter.

"majestic, magic
infinite
my little girl is
sun,
on the carpet-
out the door
picking a
flower, ha!

An old man,
battle-wrecked,
emerges from his
chair
and she looks at me
but only sees
love,
ha! And I become
quick with the world
and love right back
just like I was meant
to do.

Bukowski had his sentimental and tender side that he usually kept carefully hidden. This collection will appeal to lovers of the "Poet of Skid Row".

Robin Friedman
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on 25 March 1999
This collection, along with Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame and The Roominhouse Madrigals is absolutely essential to anyone who loves Buk's poetry. I agree with the reader who loves "The Mockingbird," but there are others in this volume I like even better. "if we take" may be my favorite Bukowski poem ever. Another great one is "the world's greatest loser." And then, of course, there's "WWII." And the list could go on and on. There is just so much wonderful stuff here. . .
Bukowski rules in heaven and on earth.
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on 19 April 1997
"Mockingbird Wish Me Luck" is Bukowski at the height of his powers. This title contains my favorite Bukwoski poem of all time, "The Mockingbird." This is an essential volume for all Bukowski lovers, and for any lover of modern poetry.
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on 15 July 2016
This isn’t Charles Bukowski’s strongest book, but it’s still a cracking collection of his poetry, and he does his usual inimitable job of using simple language to evoke complex feelings within the reader.

Usually when I read Bukowski, I’m left with a half-dozen poems which stood out above all of the others; this time, there’s just the one poem, a World War II epic which almost verges on prose. And what’s interesting about it is that it’s set wholly in America, and focuses more on the draft than on the war itself.

Overall, if you’re new to Bukowski then I wouldn’t suggest starting with this one, because it isn’t his best. Just work your way through to it if you’re devouring his entire bibliography, like I’m trying to do. After all, it’s still a pretty good book!
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on 29 January 1999
Publisher Martin has to rejoice at this collection which grants Martin his first scorpian like inroads into the grisel of a super strong american poet of us people AND BY NOTHING MORE COMPLICATED THAN INSECT POISON PUSHES BUKOWSKI TOWARD THE FINAL KAHLIL GIBRAN KIND OF WEAK SPIRITUAL LOVE GROPING OF SLIMEY SLOBBER POESY BUK ENDS UP WRITING HIS LAST DAYS AROUND THESE PARTS.Martin of course doesn't drink and believes he knows best when it concerns bukowski poem form, wording, syntax, etc. FOR EXAMPLEMartin tired of reading Bukowski wording such as "he said." and EDITED IN: "he retorted."Would Buk ever write "he retorted."NO NO NEVER. Martin hides behind Bukowski's levis by publishing Buk poems which grossly lie about various literary artists MARTIN RESENTS. MARTIN the dedicated christian scientist and BUKOWSKI the dedicated diogenes-like dunken poet work together about as well as fire and water make do in partnership.And this is why Bukowski's Black Sparrow collections are crammed with vicious murderous attacks against various peers and creative art makers/risk takers---risking a Bukowski barrage of proven fatal power result at times (see WILD BILL WANTLING).OF COURSE, John Martin wsn't all bad news for Charles Bukowski. He made the poet rich!"a rich man has as much chance of going to heaven as a camel has of passing through the eye of a needle" JChrist
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on 7 July 1999
Charles Bukowski is by sure one of my favorite poets. His work is vivid and very powerful. This book has my favorite poems by him, "Rain" and also "The Mockingbird"
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on 5 August 2015
Especially the big fire poem is excellent. Reading this book, Am on fire with literature, am on fire with poetry, am on fire with Bukowski!
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