Charles Bukowski Quotes

Charles Bukowski was a prolific writer, penning six novels, and countless poems, short stories and columns during his life (1920-1994).

Here are some of the best Bukowski Quotes, taken from these works.

Best Charles Bukowski Quotes

“Pain doesn’t make anything, nor does poverty. The artist is there first. What becomes of him depends upon his luck. If his luck is good (worldly-speaking) he becomes a bad artist. If his luck is bad, he becomes a good one.”

~ Charles Bukowski


“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”

~ Charles Bukowski, Factotum


“the way to create art is to burn and destroy
ordinary concepts and to substitute them
with new truths that run down from the top of the head”

~ Charles Bukowski


“Sex is interesting but not totally important. I mean, it’s not even as important (physically) as excretion. a man can go 70 years without a piece of ass but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man


“Boring damned people. All over the earth. Propagating more boring damned people. What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Pulp


“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


“don’t feel sorry for me
because I am alone

for even
at the most terrible
is my

~ Charles Bukowski


“On such jobs men become tired. They experience a weariness beyond fatigue. They say mad, brilliant things. Out of my head, I cussed and talked and cracked jokes and sang. Hell boils with laughter.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Factotum


“I would say that Mickey Mouse has a greater influence on the American public than Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Rabelais, Shostakovitch, Lenin, and/or Van Gogh. Which says ‘What?’ about the American Public. Disneyland remains the central attraction of Southern California, but the graveyard remains our reality.”

~ Charles Bukowski


“’I came with some damn fool,’ she said. ‘Forget him.’

‘If you can, I can,’ I told her.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Post Office


“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Ham On Rye

“‘You know,’ he said, ‘that LSD has put a lot of people in madhouses – brain damage.’
‘Everything puts people in madhouses.'”

~ Charles Bukowski, More Notes of a Dirty Old Man


“there is nothing quite like
the expectancy of a
beginning writer
unless it is the conceit
a successful

~ Charles Bukowski


“death, at last, is a bore – no more than pulling a shade. we do not die all at once, generally, but piece by piece, little by little. the young die hardest and live hardest and understand nothing. but they are the most generous and the truest and better fit to lead than the cautious wise.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Portions From A Wine-Stained Notebook:Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990


“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, An interview with London Magazine, Dec 1974 – Jan 1975


“I have two rules. One is, never trust a man who smokes a pipe. The other is, never trust a man with shiny shoes.”

~ Charles Bukowski, Hollywood


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