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Liquid Courage

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

The Drunken Bard: Charles Bukowski Originally published at

The Drunken Bard: Charles Bukowski Originally published at

Courage from a bottle

Liquid courage
in a long-neck bottle
washes away
a very bad day.

It makes you stand tall.
It makes you feel strong

even if the floor's unstable
and the head keeps spinning.

That golden brew
has a way
of Making you forget
how lonely and cold
the night can be.

It makes you forget
the traffic ticket
or that pink slip
from the other day.

I can't help but smile
when I step up to the bar
and grab hold of that bottle of
golden brew.

I'll laugh

talk big

flex my muscle

even as I sit alone

in a corner on an unbalanced


For On those very bad days,
I need that liquid courage

to wash that pain away,
to wipe those thoughts away

and play this vapored life

like I'm the strongest man.

Here's some liquid courage for you.


The late Charles Bukowski has often be criticized for writing nearly exclusively about drinking. While many of the writing were honest and personal depictions of a downtrodden life in which alcohol becomes a vehicle of escape or a coping skill, there are many critics who felt he made it look somewhat glamorous.

Also, many have used this theme to trash his work and label him a “dirty old man” of literature. However, these same critics seemingly have forgotten that stories and poems about beer and wine, and have been around since the dawn of writing.

If one were to review literature, folk tales, songs, and mythology of ancient cultures, he or she will discover various references to drinking and its intoxicating effects. Even the bible made numerous mentions of it (and not necessarily as a sin).

In fact, drinking has been at the center of many cultures. Even the ancient Greeks had a god dedicated to wine, spirits, and festivities. They were not alone, either. Middle Eastern cultures incorporated them (before and after the rise of Islam). Several rubiyats, created by Persian writer, Omar Khayyam, were filled with references to drinking and “being merry.”

Bukowski didn’t always paint a good picture of drinking. Many of his works were about the street life or the dark side of the American dream. Still, his poems, stories, and memoirs centered on alcohol and alcoholism.

He has been criticized or dismissed for his choice of topic; however, all he was doing was continuing an age old tradition. Also, he won’t be the last.

© 2012 Dean Traylor

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