Sometimes DVD extras contain gems. I watched Bukowski: Born into This (John Dullaghan, 2005) a few nights ago (thanks, Kate T) and found it rich and sad and fascinating and troubling. Would a more staid poet like Wallace Stevens, the insurance executive from Hartford, Connecticut, have got such attention? Does the romantic myth of the tragic poet at odds with the world get in the way of the work itself? Well, those are the stories that films get made out of, I guess. And this film – which told us about Charles Bukowski and alcohol, women, fear, encouragement, brawling toughness, and writing, always writing – kept me watching for its 113 minutes. There was poetry too, aside from the life. One of the extras is Tom Waits reading the piece below. I half wish it had been part of the film itself, but I also like the way it’s been framed off, on its own page, away from the hurly-burly of the biography (but still resonating with it).

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Charles Bukowski