Famous Family Poem

In "A Smile to Remember" by Charles Bukowski, the poet explores the complex dynamics of a dysfunctional family. The juxtaposition between the cheerful facade and the underlying pain is vividly portrayed. The goldfish in the bowl symbolize the fragile happiness that the mother tries to cultivate amidst the abusive relationship with the father. The poem highlights the contrast between the mother's persistent smile, urging happiness, and the harsh reality of domestic violence. The death of the goldfish serves as a metaphorical representation of the family's brokenness, while the act of throwing them to the cat further underscores the cruelty within the household. The final image of the mother's smile, tinged with sadness, leaves a lasting impression of the profound emotional struggle and the inability to find genuine happiness in such a troubled environment.

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Famous Poem

A Smile To Remember

By more Charles Bukowski

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, ‘be happy Henry!’
and she was right: it’s better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6—foot—two frame because he couldn’t
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile!
why don’t you ever smile?'

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother


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