Wordsmith Wednesday: Charles Bukowski’s “pernicious anemia”


This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is a Charles Bukowski poem entitled “pernicious anemia.”

It reads:

“I could rest on the past,
there are many books
on the shelves,
the shelves are

I could sleep all day
with my cats.

I could talk to
my neighbor
over the fence,
he’s 96 and
has had a past

I could just flog
life off,
gently wait to

ah, what a horror
that would be;
joining the world’s

I must mount a
I must crawl
inch by inch
back in-
to the sun of creation.

let there be light!
let there be me!

I will beat
the odds
one more

I always look back at this poem as one of Bukowski’s more positive pieces. He speaks of overcoming the dreariness and normalcy of life and being more, attempting to become something significant. This poem reminds me to push on and not become wrapped up in the potential monotony of life. Persevere forward and make a difference.




In his poem “the burning of the dream,” Charles Bukowski recalls his love of reading and his strong association with the library:

while other young men chased the
I chased the old
I was a bibliophile, albeit a
and this
and the world
shaped me.”

At Sobotka, we hope to bring this type of connection towards books out in people. Though, ideally, we hope your readers/writers not be as disenchanted as Bukowski was, if that’s the approach you take, we’re not gonna knock you down for it. Just try to make what you and others read more fulfilling by submitting something that you feel is worth it!

Send it out to us while you still got the time! Submissions close on June 23rd!

– KK