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Notable Notes
Jan 2012

Charles Bukowski and Sylvia Plath on Moles and Melanoma

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(1):108. doi:10.1001/archderm.148.1.108

In his poem “a threat to my immortality, ” Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), lying in bed with a bottle of beer, watches a girlfriend getting undressed.1 Something on her buttock arouses his interest: “where ’d you get that wart on/your ass? I asked./that's no wart, she said,/that's a mole, a kind of/birthmark./that thing scares me, I said,/let's call/it off. ” The girlfriend, who wants to carry on, tries to distract Bukowski by referring to his own appearance thusly: “you ’ve got warts and scars and/all kinds of things all over/you. I do believe you're the ugliest/old man/I ’ve ever seen. ” Fascinated and scared but refusing to be distracted, Bukowski just answers “forget that,  .  .  .  tell me some more/about that/mole on your butt. ” The poem title and Bukowski's reaction suggest that he considered the mole to be life-threatening.

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