Pain Management

So much of life

for many

boils down to

mostly pain-

management.

I remember

grandma, who’d

escaped commies

during WW2, but

just barely, and

with my five-year-

old, starving future

father in tow. After

that she smiled and

drank her way

through the

decades; but

then one night,

when she didn’t

know I was still

awake, I saw her

shaking on the

couch, her face

contorted into

one I couldn’t

recognize.

Later I found out

it was bone

cancer. Then I heard

her yelling at my father

because he’d been

praying to keep her

alive.

The other day a

pain like a switchblade

struck the back of my

knee and kept striking

for several days and nights–

right past the pain meds.

At first I could hardly believe

it when I heard the doctor

say it was just a sprain, but

then he added it was

pinching a nerve that was

setting off others.

And then there was

Larry, my fat, furry cat

and adopted son, whose

tumor grew back after a

costly operation; and the

cries and moans he made

finished off what was left

of my heart. Well, if you’re

reading this, you’re alive,

and you already know

(or soon will) that

much of life is pain.

And that pain is often

too much, despite those

who say that the “Good

Lord, never gives us

pain that we can’t bear”

and those who maintain

that pain teaches us

lessons we wouldn’t

otherwise hear.

Now, I find that an

internet friend, a lovely

soul, suffers constant

headaches, and I wish

that I could cure those,

don’t you know, and I

do have hope for her;

but when it comes to

pain in gneral, I’m

haunted by the words

of a buddhist monk,

who said that if the

Buddha could have

eliminated suffering

once and for all,

he would have.

Wouldn’t you?

 

— Fyodor Bukowski, author of Mail-Order Annie

What Makes a Writer Worth Reading? (For the Dope Who Compared Sam Pink to Charles Bukowski)

After writing my novel, I wanted to show it to people I admire–especially successful literary writers whose works have given me hope and strength. The problem was that THOSE writers are dead.

Charles Bukowski, the bar brawler who had the courage to tell the truth AND the compassion to stick up for animals, died in 94. Not only did he reveal the true face of humanity, but he rescued cats and wrote some powerful poems about them.

Jack Kerouac, granddaddy of the Beats, whose poetic prose and haiku helped open Western minds to animal-friendly Buddhism, drank himself to death in ’69. Not even fame and success could put him at peace with samsaric existence. (In BIG SUR, he laments even the deaths of a beaver and a mouse.)

I could name others. But all of the writers whom I deem GREAT had two things going for them: honesty and compassion…and not necessarily in that order. From Issa, the Japanese haiku master, who recognized all life forms as fellow travelers, to the aforementioned Charles Bukowski, they pulled no punches; yet they all grieved, each in his or her own way, over the suffering of sentient beings.

Of course, to be fair, there ARE writers today who write like it is and who have compassion for animals, and I know a few of them. But they, like me, languish in obscurity–at least the ones I’m aware of. We read and support each other, but really, there’s not a lot we can do to further each other’s writing careers.

Which is why I was happy to read a tweet from a Charles Bukowski fan, which stated, more or less, that fans of CB will like the novels of Sam Pink. So soon I was reading his novel RONTEL. It began well enough, but then, only 9% into the Kindle ebook, came the following:

“In the square of dirt around the tree, a dead cat lay on its side. The carcass was beat the fuck up…First thing I thought was that someone had “peeled out” on top of it…That seemed funny to me–someone “peeling out” on a dead cat. ”

Now I don’t know Sam Pink. He might be an OK guy. He may even have a cat (or more) of his own and be good to him or her. But after reading those lines lines, I would have thrown the book down, but of course that would have ended my Kindle. I just stopped reading him.

As someone who has rescued cats and is always at war, in one way or another, with the creatures called “human beings” who are unnecessarily cruel towards animals, I can’t tolerate that kind of writing. And I knew at once that this is just another overblown author who some publisher was moronic enough to publish, and who some reader is ignorant enough to compare favorably to the late, great Charles Bukowski.

So I guess I’ll just go back to my dead authors…

–FB