144+ Best Charles Bukowski Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Henry Charles Bukowski was a German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer noted for his use of violent images and graphic language in poetry and fiction that depict survival in a corrupt, blighted society. Profoundly inspirational Charles Bukowski quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

Famous Charles Bukowski Quotes

Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live. – Charles Bukowski

Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way. – Charles Bukowski

Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness; I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul. – Charles Bukowski

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be? – Charles Bukowski

Sometimes I feel as if we are all trapped in a movie. We know our lines, where to walk, how to act, only there is no camera. Yet, we can’t break out of the movie. And it’s a bad one. – Charles Bukowski

For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our educational system. 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. – Charles Bukowski

If I bet on humanity, I’d never cash a ticket. – Charles Bukowski

If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is. – Charles Bukowski

Those faces you see every day on the streets were not created entirely without hope: be kind to them: like you they have not escaped. – Charles Bukowski

Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it. To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art. – Charles Bukowski

Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors. – Charles Bukowski

The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll live ten times longer than if you have ten. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. – Charles Bukowski

there is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock – Charles Bukowski

You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics. – Charles Bukowski

We’ve died so many times now that we can only wonder why we still care. – Charles Bukowski

That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen. – Charles Bukowski

Death meant little to me. It was the last joke in a series of bad jokes. – Charles Bukowski

And when love came to us twice and lied to us twice, we decided to never love again that was fair to us and fair to love itself. we ask for no mercy or no miracles; we are strong enough to live and to die and to kill flies, attend the boxing matches, go to the racetrack, live on luck and skill, get alone, get alone often, and if you can’t sleep alone be careful of the words you speak in your sleep; and ask for no mercy no miracles; and don’t forget: time is meant to be wasted, love fails and death is useless. – Charles Bukowski

I couldn’t get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat. – Charles Bukowski

I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed but all I could do was to get drunk again. – Charles Bukowski

I walked around the block twice, passed 200 people and failed to see a human being. – Charles Bukowski

If you have the ability to love, love yourself first. – Charles Bukowski

The masses are always wrong…Wisdom is doing everything the crowd does not do. All you do is reverse the totality of their learning and you have the heaven they’re looking for. – Charles Bukowski

Are people crazy? People waited all their lives. They waited to live, they waited to die. They waited in line to buy toilet paper. They waited in line for money. And if they didn’t have any money they waited in longer lines. You waited to go to sleep and then you waited to awaken. You waited to get married and you waited to get divorced. You waited for it to rain, you waited for it to stop. You waited to eat and then you waited to eat again. You waited in a shrink’s office with a bunch of psychos and you wondered if you were one. – Charles Bukowski

To create art means to be crazy alone forever. – Charles Bukowski

I was laying in bed one night and I thought ‘I’ll just quit – to hell with it.’ And another little voice inside me said ‘Don’t quit – save that tiny little ember of spark.’ And never give them that spark because as long as you have that spark, you can start the greatest fire again. – Charles Bukowski

I am not a snob; it is simply that I am not interested with what most people have to say, or what they want to do — mostly with my time. – Charles Bukowski

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist. – Charles Bukowski

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing. – Charles Bukowski

Drink from the well of yourself and begin again. – Charles Bukowski

Almost everybody is born a genius and buried an idiot. – Charles Bukowski

The less I needed, the better I felt. – Charles Bukowski

I will remember the kisses our lips raw with love and how you gave me everything you had and how I offered you what was left of me, and I will remember your small room the feel of you the light in the window your records your books our morning coffee our noons our nights our bodies spilled together sleeping the tiny flowing currents immediate and forever your leg my leg your arm my arm your smile and the warmth of you who made me laugh again. – Charles Bukowski

Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it. when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die, or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was. – Charles Bukowski

The world is full of boring, identical and mindless people. – Charles Bukowski

I stopped looking for a Dream Girl, I just wanted one that wasn’t a nightmare. – Charles Bukowski

Beauty is nothing, beauty won’t stay. You don’t know how lucky you are to be ugly, because if people like you, you know it’s for something else. – Charles Bukowski

My ambition is handicapped by laziness – Charles Bukowski

I lapsed into my pathetic cut-off period. Often with humans, both good and bad, my senses simply shut off, they get tired, I give up. I am polite. I nod. I pretend to understand because I don’t want anybody to be hurt. That is the one weakness that has lead me into the most trouble. Trying to be kind to others I often get my soul shredded into a kind of spiritual pasta. No matter. My brain shuts off. I listen. I respond. And they are too dumb to know that I am not there. – Charles Bukowski

Do you hate people? I don’t hate them. I just feel better when they’re not around. – Charles Bukowski

I see men assassinated around me every day. I walk through rooms of the dead, streets of the dead, cities of the dead; men without eyes, men without voices; men with manufactured feelings and standard reactions; men with newspaper brains, television souls and high school ideas. – Charles Bukowski

Are you becoming what you’ve always hated? – Charles Bukowski

The crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act. – Charles Bukowski

Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way. – Charles Bukowski

Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now. – Charles Bukowski

You know the typical crowd, Wow, it’s Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there? Well, yeah. Because there’s nothing out there. It’s stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I’ve never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. That’s all. Sorry for all the millions, but I’ve never been lonely. I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have. – Charles Bukowski

The crazy ones only laugh when there is no reason to laugh. – Charles Bukowski

An artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way – Charles Bukowski

I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room… I’ve felt suicidal, I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful beyond all, but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude. – Charles Bukowski

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence. – Charles Bukowski

Don’t fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names and talk about the burns on their fingers and scratches on their ankles. Some of them are very nice. – Charles Bukowski

People are strange: They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice. – Charles Bukowski

If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life. – Charles Bukowski

Simplicity is always the secret, to a profound truth, to doing things, to writing, to painting. Life is profound in its simplicity – Charles Bukowski

Wherever the crowd goes run in the other direction. They’re always wrong. – Charles Bukowski

I am a series of small victories and large defeats and I am as amazed as any other that I have gotten from there to here. – Charles Bukowski

Find what you love and let it kill you. – Charles Bukowski

I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them. – Charles Bukowski

Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do, but most people simply don’t give a damn. – Charles Bukowski

The wisest thing to do if you’re living in hell is to make yourself comfortable. – Charles Bukowski

the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them. – Charles Bukowski

You have to die a few times before you can really live. – Charles Bukowski

Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone. – Charles Bukowski

Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning, when you wake up before the sun comes out. It’s just a little while, and then it burns away… Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality. – Charles Bukowski

The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life to a function that doesn’t interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative. – Charles Bukowski

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting. – Charles Bukowski

If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose. – Charles Bukowski

The female loves to play man against man. And if she is in a position to do it, there is not one who will resist. – Charles Bukowski

There are women who can make you feel more with their bodies and their souls, but these are the exact women who will turn the knife into you right in front of the crowd. Of course, I expect this, but the knife still cuts. – Charles Bukowski

Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9 I’ll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities. – Charles Bukowski

I don’t like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there. – Charles Bukowski

The male, for all his bravado and exploration, is the loyal one, the one who generally feels love. The female is skilled at betrayal and torture and damnation. – Charles Bukowski

Joan of Arc had style. Jesus had style. – Charles Bukowski

If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence. – Charles Bukowski

Humanity, you never had it to begin with. – Charles Bukowski

There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first. We are always ripe and ready to be taken. – Charles Bukowski

Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste. – Charles Bukowski

It’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well. – Charles Bukowski

Never envy a man his lady. Behind it all lays a living hell. – Charles Bukowski

We have wasted History like a bunch of drunks shooting dice back in the men’s crapper of the local bar. – Charles Bukowski

To do a dull thing with style-now that’s what I call art. – Charles Bukowski

I would be married, but I’d have no wife, I would be married to a single life. – Charles Bukowski

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way. – Charles Bukowski

I seldom know what I’m going to write when I sit down. There isn’t much agony and sweat of the human spirit involved in doing it. The writing’s easy, it’s the living that is sometimes difficult. – Charles Bukowski

A dry period for me means perhaps going two or three nights without writing. I probably have dry periods but I’m not aware of them and I go on writing, only the writing probably isn’t much good. – Charles Bukowski

Hemingway and Saroyan had the line, the magic of it. The problem was that Hemingway didn’t know how to laugh and Saroyan was filled with sugar. – Charles Bukowski

I guess for me Hemingway is a lot like it is for others: he goes down well when we are young. – Charles Bukowski

Some of my poems indicate that I am writing while living alone after a split with a woman, and I’ve had many splits with women. I need solitude more often when I’m not writing than when I am. – Charles Bukowski

I don’t carry notebooks and I don’t consciously store ideas. I try not to think that I am a writer and I am pretty good at doing that. I don’t like writers, but then I don’t like insurance salesmen either. – Charles Bukowski

Figuring the average poet starts at 16, I am 23. – Charles Bukowski

I can’t think of any poet-recluses outside of one dead Jeffers. [Robinson Jeffers] The rest of them want to slobber over each other and hug each other. It appears to me that I am the last of the poet-recluses. – Charles Bukowski

A day of minor profit or prophet led to a night of drunkenness. – Charles Bukowski

The poet, as a rule, is a half-man – a sissy, not a real person, and he is in no shape to lead real men in matters of blood, or courage. – Charles Bukowski

A man who can beat the horses can do anything he makes up his mind to do. – Charles Bukowski

All our days are marked with/ unexpected/ affronts–some/ disastrous, others/ less so/ but the process is/ wearing and/ continuous. / Attrition rules./ Most give/ way/ leaving/ empty spaces/ where people should/ be. – Charles Bukowski

And then there are some who believe that old relationships can be revived and made new again. but please if you feel that way don’t phone don’t write don’t arrive – Charles Bukowski

There are worse things than being alone, but it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late – Charles Bukowski

Dying should come easy: like a freight train you don’t hear when your back is turned. – Charles Bukowski

What a weary time those years were — to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability. – Charles Bukowski

Even the stove and the refrigerator looked human, I mean good human – they seemed to have arms and voices and they said, hang around, kid, it’s good here, it can be very good here. – Charles Bukowski

I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power. – Charles Bukowski

We use such big words to move nowhere. – Charles Bukowski

I went home each night dizzy and sick. He was murdering me with the sound of his voice. – Charles Bukowski

there are so many days when living stops and pulls up and sits and waits like a train on the rails. – Charles Bukowski

They, all of them, seemed to put literary form in front of the actuality and living of life itself. – Charles Bukowski

I didn’t like anybody in that school. I think they knew that. I think that’s why they disliked me. I didn’t like the way they walked or looked or talked, but I didn’t like my mother or father either. I still had the feeling of being surrounded by white empty space. There was always a slight nausea in my stomach. – Charles Bukowski

Your parents don’t give you much love, do they?’ ‘I don’t need that stuff,’ I told her. ‘Henry, everybody needs love.’ ‘I don’t need anything.’ ‘You poor boy. – Charles Bukowski

It is possible to be truly mad and to still exist upon scraps of life. – Charles Bukowski

I was only photographing in words the reality of it all. – Charles Bukowski

All that I know is that I believe in the sound of music and the running of a horse. all else is squabble. – Charles Bukowski

Trouble and pain were what kept a man alive. Or trying to avoid trouble and pain. It was a full-time job. – Charles Bukowski

Fiction is an improvement on life – Charles Bukowski

They laughed. Things were funny. They weren’t afraid to care. There was no sense to life, to the structure of things. – Charles Bukowski

I had decided against religion a couple of years back. If it were true, it made fools out of people, or it drew fools. And if it weren’t true, the fools were all the more foolish. What I need is a good doctor, I thought. You either lived or died. – Charles Bukowski

That the young rich smell the stink of the poor and learn to find it a bit amusing. They had to laugh, otherwise it would be too terrifying. – Charles Bukowski

I had no Freedom. I had nothing. – Charles Bukowski

Let’ em learn or let’ em die – Charles Bukowski

It’s hard to drink when you dance. And it’s hard to dance when you drink. – Charles Bukowski

It seemed better to delay thinking. – Charles Bukowski

Experience can dull. With most men experience is a series of mistakes; the more experience you have the less you know. – Charles Bukowski

I was a bore and didn’t know when to smile or fake it. Or rather worse, I did but didn’t. – Charles Bukowski

You just rebel against everything. How are you going to survive? I don’t know. I’m already tired. – Charles Bukowski

I never understood society. I understand that it works somehow and that it functions as a reality and that its realities are necessary to keep us from worse realities. but all i sense are that are plenty of police and jails and judges and laws and that what is meant to protect me is breaking me down… – Charles Bukowski

I am going to start selling air in dark orange bags marked: moon-blooms – Charles Bukowski

and even the trees we walked under seemed less than trees and more like everything else. – Charles Bukowski

Long ago, among other lies they were taught that silence was bravery. – Charles Bukowski

That was the trouble with being a writer, that was the main trouble—leisure time, excessive leisure time. You had to wait around for the buildup until you could write and while you were waiting you went crazy, and while you were going crazy you drank and the more you drank the crazier you got. – Charles Bukowski

My greatest problem was stamps, envelopes, paper and wine, with the world on the edge of World War II. – Charles Bukowski

This is a world where everybody’s gotta do something. Ya know, somebody laid down this rule that everybody’s gotta do something, they gotta be something. You know, a dentist, a glider pilot, a narc, a janitor, a preacher, all that. Sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don’t wanna do. All the things that I don’t wanna be. Places I don’t wanna go, like India, like getting my teeth cleaned. Save the whale, all that, I don’t understand that. – Charles Bukowski

Nothing’s news. it’s the same old thing in disguise. only one thing comes without a disguise and you only see it once, or maybe never. like getting hit by a freight train. makes us realize that all our moaning about long lost girls in gingham dresses is not so important after all. – Charles Bukowski

Christmas poem to a man in jail hello Bill Abbott: I appreciate your passing around my books in jail there, my poems and stories. if I can lighten the load for some of those guys with my books, fine. but literature, you know, is difficult for the average man to assimilate (and for the unaverage man too); I don’t like most poetry, for example, so I write mine the way I like to read it. – Charles Bukowski

Alone with everybody the flesh covers the bone and they put a mind in there and sometimes a soul, and the women break vases against the walls and them men drink too much and nobody finds the one but they keep looking crawling in and out of beds. flesh covers the bone and the flesh searches for more than flesh. there’s no chance at all: we are all trapped by a singular fate. nobody ever finds the one. the city dumps fill the junkyards fill the madhouses fill the hospitals fill the graveyards fill nothing else fills. – Charles Bukowski

I’m only interested in poetry. – Charles Bukowski

You are yesterday’s bouquet so sadly raided in the cupboard sits my bottle like a dwarf waiting to scratch out my prayers. I drink and cough like some idiot at a symphony, sunlight and maddened birds are everywhere, the phone rings gamboling its sound against the odds of the crooked sea; I drink deeply and evenly now, I drink to paradise and death and the lie of love. – Charles Bukowski

Escape from the black widow spider is a miracle as great as art. what a web she can weave slowly drawing you to her she’ll embrace you then when she’s satisfied she’ll kill you still in her embrace and suck the blood from you. – Charles Bukowski

I write as a function. Without it I would fall ill and die. It’s as much a part of one as the liver or intestine, and just about as glamorous. – Charles Bukowski

And getting dressed we talk about what else there might be to do, but being together solves most of it, in fact, solves all of it – Charles Bukowski

When the phone rings I too would like to hear words that might ease some of this. – Charles Bukowski

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