it’s the same as before
or the other time
or the time before that.
here’s a cock
and here’s a cunt
and here’s trouble.

only each time
you think
well now I’ve learned:
I’ll let her do that
and I’ll do this,
I no longer want it all,
just some comfort
and some sex
and only a minor

now I’m waiting again
and the years run thin.
I have my radio
and the kitchen walls
are yellow.
I keep dumping bottles
and listening
for footsteps.

I hope that death contains
less than this.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Charles Bukowski's poem This Then


  1. N. Smith says:

    I see a loneliness and desperation in this poem. I think it says a little of how our expectations of what love is can get in the way of our own happiness,until we are rooting around willing to take the small comforts that life allows us. All the while we are still ourselves, expecting, pushing.

  2. Warren Walton says:

    I think this poem is about loneliness, a certain isolation – developed because this person does not
    have a true love. It is about life wearing one down
    to include diminished expectation. It is about someone who is willing to settle for physical relief in the absence of love. I ask – is this person a fatalist, a realist, or slightly jaded by the years? Charles Bukowski wrote this, but could the poem refer to a man OR a woman? Both?

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