Ole opens with a quote by Charles Bukowski: "Poetry is dying on the vine like a whore on the end stool on a Monday night." His poem "Watchdog" is the mag's first poetic statement. The poem is unattributed and missing the last line. My copy has "Buk" and "that" written in in pencil. Possibly by Blazek. Maybe not. In any case, the annotations were totally unnecessary. The poem could be by nobody but Bukowski. The voice is unmistakably his from the first line. Buk is the Cerebrus that guards the pages of Ole. You had to pass his sniff test. He could smell the stench of artifice the minute it wafted into the bar. Along with Blazek he was the Ole's critical doorman:. To enter you must "first of all cancel all your subscription to the Kenyon Review and come here to Ole where you have to squint at what you read and laugh because we can't spell or punctuate."
That line comes from his "A Rambling Essay on Poetics and the Bleeding Life Written While Drinking a Six-Pack (Tall)," which, for my money, is the most important piece in all of Ole. This is Ole's defining manifesto, of which there were many. For example, Issue Two, which ends with "A Rambling Essay" also has an incredible introduction by Blazek, Blazek's "A Proposal" and several book reviews, which lay out loud and clear the Ole ethos. Blazek holds his own and holds down the fort alongside Bukowski.
But throughout the eight issues of Ole, there is the voice and formidable presence of Bukowski. His poems speak for themselves (and for Ole) but reading through Ole, particularly Issue Two and the Godzilla Issue, what struck me was Bukowski's critical voice. With "A Rambling Essay," he stands tall as Ole's leading theoretician. The six-pack of talls was a mandatory part of the stance. The drunken prophet preaching his crazy wisdom to the initiated. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is no mistake that Bukowski takes on Zukofsky as theoretician in his review of A Test of Poetry in The Godzilla Issue as well as standing toe to toe with Allen Ginsberg, the most famous poet in the world.
Bukowski was the genius of the Ole crowd.