The Laughing Heart

I don’t read poetry often these days, partly because I think it demands a stillness of time, place and mind that is rare for me. If I’m reading a novel, one bad page doesn’t usually deter me from reading on. If I have an anthology in hand, one poor or inaccessible poem can put me off. Crap attitude, I know.

Anyway, one of my good friends is a gob-smackingly good poet and author. As young cadet journos we used to sit cross-legged on the floor at his flat and swap poems. I’d read his and think “Damn that’s good. I’m not showing him mine any more…”

Despite my apparent boganism, I thank Joel for persisting. For keeping poetry in the emergency lane of my consciousness – and plugging this poem, which is a diamond. It’s The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski, read by Tom Waits.

BTW, I’m a newbie to Waits’ work but his Small Change is on regular rotation on my car stereo right now. Jazz, folk, blues, poetry, alcohol and echoes of Louis Armstrong. Top storytelling. Check out The piano has been drinking (not me) for a taste. The contemptuous waitress, the bar owner with “the IQ of a fencepost”, the squalor, the exhaust pipe vocals, the stumbling keyboard chaos. Remarkable.

Anyway, here’s a poem picked by Joel that glimmers in the darkness. It really got through to me.

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