Capturing the Bluebird: Bukowski And The Photograph That Still Sings

by Daniel Rolnik

The original angels were battle tested, busted he-men and women that fought tirelessly against hell and its demons. Their wings were scarred and their faces far from the clean-cut sissified versions embedded in stained glass windows and bible etchings. Angels were veterans, complete with rank, file, and all the side-effects that come along with watching your brothers and sisters die beside you in war. Angels were imperfect things with wings that fought on behalf of God.

Then there’s Charles Bukowski; a poet with an angel inside him that obeyed his commandments. An angel, he called his bluebird.

“I am my own God,” he once wrote.

It’s a quote that’s become one of his most famous. A thing so readily available with his photo next to it, that the original source is now difficult to find. But after some digging around broken message boards, it appears it’s from a 1988 issue of LIFE Magazine where celebrities were asked the stupid, age-old question, “Why are we here?”

“We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system,” said Bukowski. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

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Photo By Mark Hanauer

To Read the rest of Rolnik’s discussion on how Mark Hanauer caught the photograph above, go to Riot Material magazine:

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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