Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski

This tattoo post is focused on the wonderful (in my opinion) Charles Bukowski!

Bukowski is definitely a hit or miss type of writer. People either love him or they hate him and I totally get that. You can make the argument that all he does is whine and talk about booze and woman, and you wouldn’t really be wrong.

However, I definitely think there is more to his work than just those things. Sure, he’s not exactly the most optimistic writer (that’s an understatement) but I think he has an honest and cynical rawness to his work that I believe a lot more people would relate to if they just read some of his writing. Those raw, unfiltered words of his are something I think more people need to hear.

It was honestly quite difficult to find a photo of him smiling. That alone speaks for itself, in my opinion.
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When it comes to Charles Bukowski, he is undeniably the poet/novelist I think I can relate to the most.

I may have mentioned how relatable Sylvia Plath’s work is to me in this post about the tattoos her works have inspired.

While Sylvia is relatable to me in regards to general depression and mental health, I find that I resonate with Bukowski’s work as well, especially when it comes to his comments on how “crappy” the world and people can be.

In my eyes, he seemed to be a bit more in tune with things involving people. Maybe you could attest that to him growing up and living in LA. Growing up in this city changes the way you see things and definitely leaves you with a certain…taste in your mouth.



I’ve loved his writing ever since I can remember and yet, whenever I ask someone else if they’ve heard of him, it’s typically a resounding no. I think some of his work could help people feel less alone or maybe even change the reader’s perspective a little bit.

I just highly recommend reading his work. I prefer his poetry because like I stated before, there’s a certain rawness to it that just makes sense to me. If his work doesn’t resonate with you, that’s perfectly fine too!

I just wanted to share some of my favorite tattoos centered around Charles Bukowski so I hope you enjoy! 🙂




Love Is A Dog From Hell” is a collection of poems Bukowski wrote in the 70’s. I highly recommend checking it out as I quite enjoyed it.



This is an excerpt from Bukowski’s poem titled “For Jane” which you can read here. It’s a sad, yet lovely poem. I’ve always (and still am) considering getting a variation of this tattoo myself.



This tattoo is probably one of the most popular, in terms of the poem it comes from. Even if you haven’t necessarily heard of Bukowski, you’ve probably read the poem this is based on. It’s titled “Bluebird” and you can read it here.



This seems to be a popular quote of Bukowski’s, though it’s just a snippet. The full quote is:

“My Dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.
-Falsely yours”



This is a lovely, if not somewhat saddening quote. I think it’s pretty accurate though. You can find the full poem here.



This is definitely one of my favorite quotes of his. You can read the full poem here.



This is the title of another collection of poems by Bukowski, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.



These two little words are actually found on Bukowski’s own gravestone. It’s a pretty bleak pair of words at first glance (I honestly love it), but you can read the meaning behind them here.



Okay, so here’s another slightly depressing one. Ha! Oops (not really – blame the writer). This quote is an excerpt from this poem.



I really love this line though I’m not entirely sure why. It’s from him poem titled “My Fate” and the full poem is:

“like the fox, I run with the hunted and if I’m not the happiest man on earth, I’m surely the luckiest man alive.”



And finally, let’s try to end this on a positive note! This quote is from his poem “The Laughing Heart” which you can read here. I think it’s more positive because it’s somewhat uplifting in it’s message that you can always find light in the darkness and that in fact, you are marvelous.


Chat With Me!

Well, that wraps up this post! Do you personally like Charles Bukowski? I’d love to know your opinion on why or why not! 🙂


  1. Allan

    June 8, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Thank you so much for this very interesting post.

  2. Terry l Steichen

    January 16, 2021 at 8:00 am

    He changed my life for the better. I can’t imagine what would have
    become of me if not for Mr. Bukowski, the greatest poet of all time!!

    1. Karley

      January 16, 2021 at 10:36 am

      I would certainly second that, Terry! 🙂 He truly was an incredible poet.

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