bluebird, bukowski

by Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be

then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Two days ago a friend and I watched a two hour long documentary film on Bukowski. Bukowski in the flesh was portrayed, excuse me, LEO, portrayed himself, in enough scenes for me to get a solid enough sense of him. In that brief and crafted compression of a whole persona I felt that I got to to grab enough of his guts and sense what he’s about. And what I’m really interested in is his obsession with repressing his most sensitive bits, his bluebird.

Bukowski liked to keep his bluebird hidden. His bluebird, that soft and tender part of him. I imagine it to be the liquid insides of a lobster, necessitating protection by an exoskeleton. The sweet small throat of the bluebird between his thumb and index finger, repeatedly dunked and choking in the simmering death of a glass of whisky.

Here is my best guess why Bukowski would want to do something like that. If he released the bluebird from his gentle crushing touch, let it fly free, who knows what song it would sing. Bukowski needed a predictable meter, a feeling that could be replicated, a self conception that could be understood, directed, and controlled. There is no definitive knowing the song a free bird sings.

Bukowski let us see the best and worst (not value statements) expressions of his Mercury-Neptune conjunction.  A prolific poet despite the imagination numbing effects of alcohol (a value statement). The god Neptune was strong in him. He might have produced great works even if he didn’t drink so much. Yet, you’ll forgive me, the judgment I am about to make is based in love, and I did not know the man’s soul, here I am merely surmising: It was his drinking that perpetuated the pain, and more than any woman, it was this struggle he was in love with. The drink was his master and his servant, such abiding offerings of Virgo.


Bukowski’s relationship to his bluebird is the mixture between the exquisite pain of his Venus-Saturn conjunction in Virgo and the fuel that slow self-denial of affection provided to his stellium in Leo. Pain that was solid enough to serve as a stage to stand on. The man had performances to deliver and a great sense of responsibility and wondrous work ethic around delivering. His sense of duty to his own creativity was too unyielding, too demanding, to allow himself the possibility of finding love in connection with another person — he did not let himself see the possibility of poetry there. He allowed this image of himself harden to rigidity, let his liquid innards coagulate, until he trapped himself inside his own version of himself. There was difficulty in reconciling duty and creativity, so that no space, no air was there for a possible alternative route to himself to make an appearance, so dominating was Bukowski’s bigness of self-conception and smallness of inner feeling.

It was the depth of feeling and perception that might have been so vast as to be overwhelming, that he needed that narrowing effect of so much alcohol.

bigPart of his charge for this lifetime, his North Node message, was to develop a deep sense of compassion and nurturance for his own complicated feelings toward partnership. So, here’s the thing. To drown a bluebird one must touch the bird. A bird’s nature is to fly. Birds skate on the surface of water, they dive in and emerge triumphantly with the afternoon’s lunch, they take their time paddling luxuriously along the surface. A bird’s place is not trapped beneath a liquid surface. To put it there is an act of violence. Bukowski was at war with this part of himself (Sun in Leo square Mars in Scorpio), and the destruction was on display. Yet, so loved is he by his public that he, even in death, can be lifted through the muck and mire of unoxygenated water.

Bukowski Natal


image: Bluebird, Bukowski, by Blackbird, Draw on Tumblr.

*This piece is informed by the documentary film, Bukowski: Born into This, the poem Bluebird by Bukowski, and my intuitions and observations of Heinrich Karl Bukowski’s chart. I have included some references to the places in his chart from which I draw my observations, but for the sake of flow and because a chart is a reflection of a whole entity, I have chosen to omit many references to specific placements in the chart. *I ALWAYS WELCOME QUESTIONS and Comments, so if you're curious about where I’m getting a particular bit of information, please feel free to write to me or comment below.*


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