Tuesday, February 11, 2020

On "Roll the Dice" by Charles Bukowski

As Bukowski advises us in this fabulous poem, there is an undertone of pride and vigor, a vibration of the meaning of life, that wobbles into one's soul as both eyes and mind scan the lines in wonder. Below is the full poem:

if you’re going to try, go all the

otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the

way. this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.

it could mean not eating for 3 or
4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the
worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,

go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the
and the nights will flame with

do it, do it, do it.

do it.

all the way

all the way.
you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter,
it’s the only good fight
there is.

The spirit of unabashed, rugged individualism rings powerfully, like from a one-ton brass bell forgotten in the skeleton of a long-abandoned forest church. Despite no parishioners to hear its audacious cry, it cries on nevertheless. Its spirit lives on sans observer. In fact, it prefers that the gawking onlookers have left, for their favorable opinions were vapid reasons to live. No, they were worse than that. They were tragic. The bell, now mature, knows this, as does Mr. Bukowski.

Of course, going all the way means something different to everyone. That is the beauty of this poem. I recommend looking at it like a form of confirmation. Write down your path, your goals, your visions for yourself in the future. Then, from time to time, come back to this poem. Pin it on your wall. Better yet. Commit it to memory. When you read it in that uncertain future of yours, ask yourself: Am I going all the way? Is this what going all the way means to me?

If not, then just maybe, like the bell, your parishioners are still gawking. Just maybe, you have yet to know truly what a moment alone with the gods is like.

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