Dec. 15, 2000

to lean back into it

by Charles Bukowski

Broadcast date: FRIDAY, 15 December 2000

Poem: “to lean back into it,” by Charles Bukowski, from what matters most is how well you walk through the fire (Black Sparrow Press).

to lean back into it

like in a chair the color of the sun
as you listen to lazy piano music
and the aircraft overhead are not
at war.
where the last drink is as good as
the first
and you realize that the promises
you made yourself were
that's plenty.
that last: about the promises:
what's not so good is that the few
friends you had are
dead and they seem
as for women, you didn't know enough
early enough
and you knew enough
too late.
and if more self-analysis is allowed: it's
nice that you turned out well-
that you arrived late
and remained generally
outside of that, not much to say
except you can leave without
until then, a bit more amusement,
a bit more endurance,
leaning back
into it.
like the dog who got across
the busy street:
not all of it was good

It is the birthday of Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, born in Twamgraney, County Clare, (1932), a small village in the west of Ireland. She had a strict Catholic upbringing, and began writing as a young girl. When she was 14, she left County Clare for Dublin with a suitcase bound with twine and a "head full of fancy." She became a pharmacist, married, and had two sons. Her first novel, The Country Girls (1960), was about two Irish girls who leave their strict homes and convent school for the excitement of life in Dublin. She wrote two sequels to The Country Girls: The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). These and others of her books were banned in Ireland for being obscene and pornographic because they dealt with the sexuality of young women. O'Brien's other books include, August is a Wicked Month (1965), Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977), and House of Splendid Isolation (1994).

It is the birthday of American poet Muriel Rukeyser, born in New York City (1913), best known for her four decades of poetry concerned with social issues.

It is the birthday of writer Betty Smith, born in Brooklyn, New York (1896), famous for her very successful first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943).

It is the birthday of playwright Maxwell Anderson, born in Atlantic, Pennsylvania (1888). His first successful play was What Price Glory? (1924), written with Lawrence Stallings. His other plays include Key Largo (1939), Candle in the Wind (1941), Anne of the Thousand Days (1948), and The Bad Seed (1954).

It is the birthday of inventor Charles Duryea, born in Canton, Illinois (1861), who, with his brother Frank, invented the first automobile built and operated in the United States. The brothers demonstrated their invention on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts, on September 22, 1893.

On this day in 1815, Jane Austen’s novel Emma was published, a day before her 40th birthday. In it she points out, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

On this day in 1791, the American Bill of Rights was ratified. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to a speedy, public trial were all guaranteed.

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