Inspired by Hemingway, Bukowski wrote about the underbelly of Los Angeles. Charles Bukowski quotes can shock us into thinking differently about the world.

Charles Bukowski was born in Germany but came with his family to live in Los Angeles when he was three years old. When he finished school, he moved to New York to pursue a career as a writer. He had little success though and gave up writing.

Instead, he took up a variety of jobs from dishwasher to post office clerk to support himself. He also drank heavily at this stage of his life.

Eventually, after he came ill with a bleeding ulcer, he returned to writing novels, short stories, and poetry. He went on to publish more than forty-five books.

Bukowski’s writing often featured the darker elements of society. He depicted a depraved city full of malice and violence. His work contained strong language and sexual imagery.

He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.

The following quotes by Charles Bukowski are delightfully dark and full of humor. He certainly had an unconventional way of looking at things. His quotes can shock us out of our old, stale ideas and help us look at things in a new way.

Here are six of my favorite Charles Bukowski quotes:

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”

I love this quote because it represents something we all feel from time to time. Some mornings we wonder how we will ever get through the day. Bukowski reminds us to think about all the days we have got through. Sometimes, laughing at our bleakest moments is the best way to give our spirits a lift.

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.”

This quote is from Bukowski’s volume of poetry entitled What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. This insight is so true. We get to see what people are really like in times of crisis or long-term stress. Some people crumble and sink into a victim mentality. Others rise to the occasion.

When we find people that are heroes in difficult times, we should hold on to them. And of course, we should try to be heroes for other people, too.

“We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting.”

To be honest, I’m not sure I totally understand this quote. However, something about it speaks to me. I guess it’s about reaching our full potential. It reminds me of the quote from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice WalkerI think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

Both these quotes help me to try to stop whining, moaning, and complaining. Instead, I should be grateful for all I have, appreciate the blessing of life, and do my best to fulfill my purpose on earth.

“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”

This quote is from Bukowski’s collection of short stories Tales of Ordinary Madness. This collection explores the dark, dangerous lowlife of Los Angeles that Bukowski experienced. The stories feature the full range of American culture from prostitutes to classical music.

I love this quote because it rings true in my experience. Sometimes, you meet someone who just feels good to be around.

These people are free from the constraints of society. They don’t care what other people think. They don’t judge and aren’t competitive. These kinds of people make us glad to be alive. I am lucky enough to know a few people like this and I hold them dear.

“You have to die a few times before you can really live.”

This quote is from another collection of poetry The People Look Like Flowers at Last. It is an inspiring quote for when things go really wrong in life. When a dream fails or a relationship falls apart, it can feel like a kind of death.

This quote helps us to understand that these little deaths help us to really live. If our lives went smoothly and we always got what we wanted, we wouldn’t appreciate the good things. We would be only half alive.

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

This is my favorite of all Charles Bukowski quotes. Because we know everyone dies, we should be full of compassion for everyone. However, we are often eaten up by jealousy, anger, competition, and fear. It is a sad state of affairs, indeed.

If we could remember this quote whenever we interact with others it would change how we lived our lives.

Closing thoughts

Charles Bukowski quotes and writings may not be for everybody. Some of them seem pretty impenetrable and deep, not to mention dark. If you prefer a quote about rainbows and butterflies, his type of humor might not be for you.

But sometimes, looking at the absurdities of life gives us a little jolt. We realize that our trivial worries are ridiculous and we may as well stop worrying about petty matters and get on with the business of living.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Zoran Nesic

    These are all good, but my favourite is this one:
    Find what you love and let it kill you.

  2. Randy Whalen

    not understand? :

    “We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting.”

    im 40. ..((maybe thats it))
    ive had so many opportunities in life.. I did not necessarily take advantage of them, nor did i take them for granite… I completely feel that ive missed the ball on them. Like i was “supposed to do something” but did not see it…and
    The Sun Is Pissed!

  3. Randy Whalen

    Wonderful article. Thank You.

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