The Gods Wait to Delight in You – The Laughing Heart, by Charles Bukowski

Last fall, every day, on the way to the Alewife stop on the Red Line, in a very dark time, I would see a poster someone had pasted on the concrete under the overpass. Superimposed over the image of a person, spreadeagled under a nighttime sky, these words:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

The poster is still there, fading, parts of it ripped and flapping. The words can still make me cry, even more so now, when I learn that they were written by Charles Bukowksi, who carried his own black dog and still strove to walk the strand that all artists walk, between solid land and the ocean.

Full attribution: Charles Bukowski. “The Laughing Heart.” Betting on the Muse. Harper-Collins.

4 Replies to “The Gods Wait to Delight in You – The Laughing Heart, by Charles Bukowski”

  1. Hi Okelle,

    I reached this post via a friend’s link on Facebook–I so desperately needed to read these words and the hope that lies inside them today!!!! I also love your post about calling yourself a “lesbian-identified bisexual”. I so relate to that.

    Thank you for putting your voice out there,

    1. Mary, what a lovely comment. It’s always a pleasure to meet kindred souls, especially since I recently moved my blog from Livejournal to WordPress. Let’s be Internet friends! 🙂

  2. It’s beautiful and it hurts, and so many other things. I am going print this out and keep it alongside Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”. Thank you for posting.

    1. > It’s beautiful and it hurts
      Well said. It’s a very intense poem. A few months ago, one of the major jeans companies (Levi’s or Lee, I can’t remember) was broadcasting a commercial with this poem at the core. It was very odd to see such a tiny-soul-in-the-darkness statement being used by an international clothing label. Very odd and yet not so very surprising, at the same time.

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