Sunny Side Down

A Charles Bukowski Tribute

The sweat had been dripping down the arse cracks of my chefs all day. How did I know this delightful fact? Well, there was always one chef who had absolutely no filter for keeping any delicate information from me. In fact I used to get every ailment he and his mates had at any given moment. From itchy nobs, bleeding hemorrhoids or who they fucked and how their husband was asleep in the spare bedroom and how itchy his nob would be later. I was beginning to think hot kitchens emulate some kind of truth serum. Some chef’s would try and out do the master, but Nic would always win. He forever reeked from last nights booze and his rashes were always flaring. Day old burns would fill with moisture and threaten to burst into gravies. His thinning skin sizzled at the slightest touch of a heat lamp. He was a great chef and a genius storyteller who would have me grimacing or in stitches retelling his life. These stories would either repel and bore or ignite and excite, the latter for me and he wouldn’t give a fuck about who was listening. His worry-ometer was non existent. His character split the team. For some he was a dirty, unkind no hoper but for me he was an original. His knowledge, the way he read people astounded me. If ever I needed the truth, I would go to him first and foremost. I knew his past. Yep, he’d been through a lot. His sixty year old, greyhound lean body gave up over ten years back, his unfaltering diet of unfiltered camels and beer probably kept him alive a lot longer.

bUKOWSKIWhat he had was courage. Not summoned, just ingrained. He had broken through the pain of a hard upbringing and the conditioning that can weaken the self. Courageous writers have an advantage in that they have a solid body of evidence in the words they leave behind. My chef only had an oral legacy. To have the guts to devote your life to telling your own story and those characters you meet along the way is a privilege. Bukowski is one of those writers. He had no hesitation in what he wanted to say and most likely with or without the booze, Bukowski would always have been himself. I’ve had great experiences with writers that challenge, that don’t care for consequences that have that ‘couldn’t give a shit’ air about them. I adore all kinds of poetry and fiction, but this is this kind of writing that thrills me the most. Bukowski continues to influence, the key is to find writers that break through new walls, not imitators, just honest no mirror gazers. He is definitely a hard act to follow.

Sunny Side Down rises over an unknown skyline. Writer and publisher Katie Doherty has brought together a perfect pack of wordsmiths who were drawn to the call. There is some brilliance here but what shows most is the legacy of the underground. The opportunities that these passionate publishers have to share the word is so inspiring. Within these pages are either dedications or works with that Bukowski kiss, that doesn’t scream ‘complete rip-off’ and which was a welcome and refreshing bit of info from the start.

Bruxelles Nord squeaks in its vinyl seat. I completely forgot the modus operandi. Alexander Adams must have caught the same train as me to Antwerp. His travels a flash of bump, grind and cream is a wicked and brooding treat. Why Bukowski by Barbara E Young finds the pulse and truth, so with two poems in I’m sold.

Seems there will be no turning back for Wayne Mason. His Any Damn Fool Can Work Everyday is the chat we need to have with ourselves. This is beginning to look like a must have tome. Very thrilling, as for many of the writers here, I’ve not had the pleasure. But dang! Country by Jamie O’Hara is a heated knife end of a piece, made me jump and see what else he’s been scribbling.

I get this stupid grin when I see writers that always pop in and out of my life. Gwil James Thomas is no stranger to my praise. Nothing To Enter/Everything To Leave for me is that beautiful thank you, because Gwil has his own style, but it was nice to find out he digs Bukowski too. Ingrid Calderon has taken a centre stage approach and has me all ears with her It’s My Specialty inspired by Buk’s “Quiet Clean Girls in Gingham Dresses” A woman’s perspective. Going to shine the spotlight on this one even though I get the feeling that Ingrid Calderon may not be able to stand a good man… Bukowski, you’ve just been served! Exceptional.

Jared Carnie throws in the feminist agenda and the problems knowing or admiring someone like Bukowski can develop “We are all awful and Bukowski was the greatest” Bottom line Jared, we here are all a little biased. As I am with my personal pin up Joseph Ridgwell. Not one to be shy with my fan girl sensibilities, when I turned the page I let out a tiny squeak. Poker At Huxleys? OK, Joe has broken through the fourth wall and is treating us to his ultimate dinner party and we are all invited. Fante, Bukowski and Hemingway are there or maybe it’s just his regular motley crew magnets. Either way Joe or Huxley is two hundred up and Hemingway has turned all hispanic in between bevvies. LA is proving more than Joe expected especially when Doc decides to undo his knife roll. Absolute loco luscious.

I adjust my skirt and continue into Just Slow Enough by Keith Landrum who does the perfect tilt on a Buk quote that the writer himself would no doubt give the nod to. Two Mailmen is not from the dead letter office, Justin Hyde’s poem is a love letter to souls entwined. Keith Landrum’s straightforward homage hits hard, this is the resonance that Bukowski hammers our hearts with. Leah Mueller’s Cirque De Soleil takes one away from the man of the hour and instead we see him sitting in the front row applauding. When I talk of the spirit of underground, no one is dug lower than risk taker, punk bon vivant dreamer extravagant Martin Appleby from Paper & Ink Zine Publishing. His poem Bukowski On Love hits ya like Krazy Kat, his amour for fellow contributor Jared, at the end of the piece is adorable.

Nancy Bewka-Clarke’s Bukowski Theorem does a round-off back hand spring with double twist. Fan or foe who knows but Buk would have loved it. Pete Donahue has some lungs on him. Damned Pleasures sends out the curly finger of come hither and I follow it relentlessly to the end. Like any addiction, acknowledgment can become cure or acceptance, in the case of words, this is a healthy outcome. Rob McCabe has found his poison in Junky and will never give it up. There is a cool pencil sketch by Jason Dominguez that actually captures a rare side of the poet. Scott Wozniaks self deprecating and poignant poke at our heroes writing methods is a solemn surrender and Robert Plath gets two rounds on the mic. The Ledge which has my stomach dropping to my laces and The New Poetry Machine in which Bukowski’s spirit was right on this time.

Sunny Side Down is ear marked for a second print run in 2018 via I’ll remind ya when it is available. In the meantime you can connect with publisher Katie Doherty here







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