The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Tom Waits Reads “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski

Tom Waits Reads “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski

It is a rare gift when a great artist brings a great poem to life. Tom Waits could read anything and sink it into the depths of being while elevating it to the transcendent, but when he takes on something already exception, the result is pure magic.

Here is a 2008 recording of Waits reading “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920–March 9, 1994), found in his 2002 collection of poems and stories, Betting on the Muse (public library).

by Charles Bukowski

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.

For more great artists bringing great poets to life, see Esperanza Spalding singing William Blake, America Ferrera reading Denise Levertov, John Cameron Mitchell reading Walt Whitman, Meryl Streep reading Sylvia Plath, Regina Spektor reading Mark Strand, and Amanda Palmer reading Wisława Szymborska.

Published December 30, 2009




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