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Flapper Press Poetry Café Series: My Favorite Poetry—Charles Bukowski

By Flapper Press Poetry Café:

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Flapper Press Poetry Café begins a new series of articles about favorite lines of poetry and the poets who wrote them. We’re reaching out to poets, writers, and lovers of poetry to submit their favorite lines of poetry and tell us why they chose them.

Check out our Favorite Poetry Submission Guidelines and send us your favorites!

We'll feature your submission sometime this year on our site!

This week, our submission comes from Flapper Press founder Elizabeth Gracen:

Charles Bukowski
this woman thinks she’s a panther
and sometimes when we are making love
she’ll snarl and spit
and her hair comes down
and she looks out from the strands
and shows me her fangs
but I kiss her anyhow and continue to love. . . .

—Charles Bukowski, "Have You Ever Kissed a Panther?"


Elizabeth Gracen:

This is one of the first lines of poetry I ever memorized. Every time I read Bukowski’s poem “Have You Ever Kissed a Panther?” there is a visceral pull to a particular place and time when I felt let loose on the world, my inhibitions cast to the wind—days when I was foolish and dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, casting off a “good girl” persona and exploring the wild child of my nature. I wanted to be the panther.

Charles Bukowski’s prolific body of work—short stories, novels, and over one thousand poems—turn a keen poetic eye to American society and the darker tendencies of humankind. Bukowski’s hard living and dependency on alcohol serve as a raw backdrop for words soaked in sex, alcohol, depravity, and observations on the absurdity of life. Sometimes offensive, violent and repulsive, Bukowski’s sublime words and vivid imagery dig deep and never shy away from the visceral heartbeat of being alive in a beautiful, terrible world.

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

—Charles Bukowski

To read more about Charles Bukowski and his prolific work, visit the Poetry Foundation and consider a donation to the organization to help “expand on the free resources, programs, and initiatives“ offered through their nonprofit mission to keep poetry alive and thriving.


Elizabeth Gracen is the owner of Flapper Press & Flapper Films.


Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.

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