Charles Bukowski

Like A Flower In The Rain by Charles Bukowski

Bukowski’s ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ is a clear-cut poem describing the odd lovemaking of a couple. Bukowski does not shy away from noting their raw conversation in the text.

‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ appears in Charles Bukowski’s poetry collection, Love is a Dog From Hell, in 1977. This erotic poem is written in descriptive yet lucid language. It presents the conversation of a couple while making love. The speaker remains blatantly straightforward throughout the conversation. Even though his fingernail gets cut, he carries on with the act as if it was one of the habits of a mundane lifestyle. Bukowski is known for his raw, simplistic style of writing, which weighs heavy on detailed, peculiar, and grotesque imagery. These features are present in this poem.

Like A Flower In The Rain by Charles Bukowski


Summary

‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ by Charles Bukowski describes an oddly amorous conversation between a couple during lovemaking.

In this piece, Bukowski narrates a couple having sexual intercourse and the aftermath of the same. The poem mainly pivots around the themes of lovemaking, food, and companionship — all of which come together in the end in a rather wholesome manner. There is unevenly dynamic storytelling and precariously placed lines. Bukowski dexterously uses the pattern in order to portray the pace of events and how things roll on. He records how a couple makes love by chatting over unimportant matters. After the climax, the speaker shops for a great variety of food items and eats with his partner.

You can read the full poem here.

Detailed Analysis

Lines 1-10

I cut the middle fingernail of the middle

finger

right hand

(…)

face

and breasts

after bathing.

Charles Bukowski’s poems are known for their simple yet sordid imagery. The same can be found in his poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain.’ Bukowski begins by narrating how the couple in the poem are steered towards intimacy. He uses straightforward language, a staple for Bukowski’s poetry.

In the first few lines, the speaker talks about accidentally cutting the middle fingernail of the middle finger. The reason is implied in the next lines. He was shortening the fingernail so as not to hurt his partner during foreplay. Irrespective of the fact that his finger bled, still he managed to jump into the play. The urge was so high that pain at the physical level mattered very less.

His partner sat upright on the bed. She had a bath and rubbed lotion over her body. The speaker particularly notes where she applied the lotion. Such a picturesque language helps readers to imagine how the physical and mental state of the characters.

Lines 11-22

then she lit a cigarette:

“don’t let this put you off,”

(…)

she was getting wet and open

like a flower in the rain.

In the next lines, Bukowski draws upon different senses by using sentences like “then she lit a cigarette” or “You want an apple?”- most of which exists to provide a sense of chemistry between the man and the woman. He uses romanticism of language to glorify the time the speaker spends with the woman.

He compares her vagina to a “flower in the rain,” which brings up beautiful visions to the mind. It is important to note how beauty can be found even in a mundane scene.

By building frolicking chemistry with his partner, the speaker went on making love with her. The way they twisted, rolled over the bed seems they were both having a good time. In fact, they were brimming with lust, craving for the moment to come.

Lines 23-35

then she rolled on her stomach

and her most beautiful ass

(…)

and my flattened cock entered

into the miracle.

The poet narrates the act of sexual intercourse in these lines. He labels her lady parts to “the miracle.” Most of the critics believed  Bukowski was rather misogynistic. How much of this persona was created or real is still debated upon.

Bukowski said, “The male, for all his bravado and exploration, is the loyal one, the one who generally feels love. The female is skilled at betrayal and torture and damnation.” This quote makes readers interpret these lines of the poem from loving and sensual to something else entirely.

In these lines, the speaker notes how they made love in a similar fashion. He leaves ko details left. It gives this piece a look like a motion picture. Bukowski heightens the sensuality and blends kinesthetic imagery to reach the point of climax.

Lines 36-47

later we joked about the lotion

and the cigarette and the apple.

(…)

mashed potatoes and the gravy and

the cole slaw too.

In the last few lines of ‘Like A Flower In The Rain,’ Bukowski explores the aftermath of lovemaking. He describes the companionship and conversations that take place over a meal, which makes for a warm end to the poem.  Bukowski’s language is ambiguous in this section.

The terms such as “joked” imply the fact that the characters may not have a heartfelt love for each other. They were doing it out of pure, carnal passion. Besides, the way the speaker went out to have a great variety of foods in order to satisfy their physical hunger also hints at the same fact. Make love, eat, and repeat — modern relationships are ironically chained to this cycle. The purity of love and togetherness are mostly absent in today’s relationships.

Structure

‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ is written in a free-verse form. It follows no traditional rules of poetry; there is no regular rhyme scheme or meter. The text consists of 47 lines that are grouped into a single stanza. It is written from the perspective of a first-person speaker. The speaker describes how the events happened one after another in a picturesque manner. It helps readers imagine the oddly satisfying between the speaker and his partner.

Literary Devices

Charles Bukowski’s poetic style is often described as non-traditional. Most of his poems are simply worded and easy to understand with little use of poetic devices. However, readers can find the following devices in this poem.

  • Enjambment: In the first lines, “I cut the middle fingernail of the middle/ finger/ right hand/ real short,” this device is implemented. It forces readers to go through the lines together to grasp the idea.
  • Metaphor: Bukowski compares the woman’s “cunt” to a flower blossoming in the rain in this poem. He uses romanticism of language to beautify and describe the speaker’s love for her.
  • Alliteration: It occurs in “she sat,” “sure, she said,” “to twist,” etc.
  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the term “middle” in the beginning meant for the sake of emphasis.


Themes

‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ taps on the themes of lovemaking, food, nature, and companionship. Bukowski’s poems are known for their free, raw, and simplistic style. In this poem, he uses simplicity in not only language but also a requirement of a person. He describes how sex, food, and friendship are the basis of what a common person needs in a sense.

This poem also appears in his book, The Pleasures of The Damned, which explores similar themes of lust, life, drinking, etc. The poem in itself ends on a good note with the speaker saying, “later we joked about the lotion/ and the cigarette and the apple.” and “she told me/ how good she felt and I told her/ how good I felt, and we/ ate” which leaves a lasting image of a couple laughing and chatting over a meal.

Historical Context

Charles Bukowski was a German-American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. His work reflects his surroundings and includes drinking and having unusual relationships with women. Most of Bukowski’s poems have been heavily edited to the point that they do not reflect his work anymore since most of them were published after his death. His poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ was first published in the collection Love is a Dog From Hell in 1977.

FAQs

What is the poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ about?

Charles Bukowski’s poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ is a narration of a couple having sex, eating, and chatting over unimportant matters. This poem records each and every detail of their lovemaking and how it ended up with a bulky dinner.

What does the title ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ mean?

The title of the poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’ is used to describe the woman the speaker loves. The image the title evokes is pure and almost saintly. This simile glamorizes his love for the red-haired woman.

What is the theme of ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’?

This piece taps on a number of themes that include sexual intimacy, eating together, and companionship. In this poem, Bukowski talks about how a speaker made love with his partner.

What type of poem is ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’?

This poem is written in free verse form. It means there is no set rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The text consists of a total of 47 lines that are told from the viewpoint of a first-person speaker.

What is the tone of ‘Like A Flower In The Rain’?

The tone of the poem is detached, amorous, descriptive, and content. Bukowski’s speaker recounts the event in a manner that it seems making love is nothing but a routine task for him.


Similar Poems

Here is a list of a few poems that similarly tap on the themes present in Charles Bukowski’s poem ‘Like A Flower In The Rain.’

You can also explore these deeply emotional love poems.

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Sudip Das Gupta Poetry Expert
About
A complete expert on poetry, Sudip graduated with a first-class B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature. He has a passion for analyzing poetic works with a particular emphasis on literary devices and scansion.
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