Posts Tagged loneliness
I saw you once
watching me askance
in a reflection in a passing
You startled me
and I tried to smile
but somewhere turning
in the passing angle
the message was lost.
Then you distorted
and curled around your passing space
and I moved through the view
at twice the normal rate.
I turned to see the real you
but you’d gone by then.
Dissolved into the real world.
Passed away to all intents and purposes.
There was a man who lived in a cupboard,
and all he could see
was what was visible through the keyhole.
Because someone had stolen the key.
And thrown it away.
At any given point in time,
because there was no night or day,
he might see the thigh of a woman
or part of a cat as it passed by,
or the leg of a table but no more,
or an odd S shape in a carpet,
the rest of which was obscure.
And then there was another man
who lived on top of a mountain
and who could see everything
all at once as the wind blew.
His hands were always cold.
And his eyes always wept
and his smile was a rictus.
In between, someone lived
unaware of either constraints or limits.
He had to guess.
Cat parts seemed too mysterious to know
as did the shape in the carpet.
And the horizon was unfeasibly far and long.
He had a choice.
Ponder both views or ignore them.
In his confusion he did both
and both lived and died.
His constraints limited him
and his limits constrained him
They were and were not simultaneously.
Which is as it should be
because that’s the nature of things.
Ask a cat.
It didn’t help him much either
because with each passing moment,
with both his baffled stares and his overwhelmed wonder,
still the pain remained and the joy
and the inexplicable puzzle of it all
were both partly seen and wholly glimpsed.
I may as well be on a desert island.
Life under a dome of hot sky blended seamlessly to sea.
Empty beaches, sighing trees, whispering waves,
and solitary boulders that stand silent, watching out for me.
There’s a magic supermarket here that’s run by AI.
It feeds me and provides a regular supply
of washing up liquid and beer and tobacco
and sausages and pizza and shit like that.
Sometimes there I see shapes like people.
Mirages amongst the stacked shelves.
The hard and real stacked shelves.
When they stop they merge with the tins and the toys.
The voices of their children whisper want
and no one sees me moving amongst them.
Sometimes they stand in my way.
I move through these vapid creatures that
belong to a universe that isn’t mine.
But sometimes I have to walk around them.
Outside in the baking hot sun that sings cicada songs
in hot white light that dazzles off glass and the distant sea,
I pause and listen to the sounds and the light
that travel through me and which never carry my name.
A mild wind in blue sky with sun glinting
off snowy Cretan mountain peaks,
bird song amongst orange groves
ripe with fruit waiting to be picked,
reverberated to a double shotgun blast
as someone blew his brains out
and spread them over the plaster landscape
that was his for too long.
As I wrote mellowed by birdsong,
righteously writing about what was wrong
with no cognisance of what went on
just below my balcony.
A moment came and passed.
And I learned about it from the news.
Written a long way away.
And now when I gaze down,
the birds still sing amongst the oranges.
And the dogs still bark.
When you truly listen to people
and you hear what they are,
you will find
that everyone is lonely.
This is a poem.
I can say whatever I like.
Poetic licence and all that.
I can say without fear of ridicule
that I am lonely and mystified by life.
The whirlpools of logic and illogic
and unfathomable stupidities.
And the wonders and astonishing things.
Aspects of grand realities
that seem distant and huge.
And I’m allowed to confess that I cry,
often and loudly,
because I’m a two sided coin.
And other things too.
The sense of smallness
that makes me gently humble as I look around.
That sense of contiguity with all that is
that occurs occasionally.
My smallness and my scope.
My all encompassing modest place.
Watching wise if I’m lucky.
Defined by my context.
Laughing while crying and vice versa.
Is it not odd in a world of
That a female Praying Mantis
Still eats its mate.
That it’s possible to die
By digital excess,
Or also lack thereof.
On a dating website tonight,
I paused and considered what I saw.
Images of people frozen at
Very particular moments in their lives.
And then writing an advert to promote it.
Someone messaged me tonight.
I was shy to link to her too soon.
When I did, she’d destroyed her account.
Admiralty129000 I will never know you.
And this space I’m in
That comprises me and a screen.
This is how we interface now.
And yet she was there. She was.
She messaged me.
And then she didn’t exist anymore.
When you reach a point where what you need to say cannot be expressed, and there’s no one to express it to anyway. That’s when you hit despair. When suddenly the odd phenomenon of being alive feels like a sensual experience that you’d rather not feel right now because it’s so uncomfortable. And your time is spent waiting for it to pass. Like being too stoned or too drunk, and waiting for the world to stop spinning because it isn’t fun any more. Fun sort of but not actually, and you want it to stop. And only what’s beyond this state is desirable. But beyond seems so far away. And it’s not allowed anyway. And seems to be impossible.
I know I’m not supposed to admit this.
It’s neither dignified nor manly.
Because men only think about one thing.
And they’re not allowed to cry.
Pillars of society,
We joyfully join the scrum.
Pretending indifference to the quiet voice.
We have to scorn the quiet voice.
That’s what it is to be a man.
Quiet voice that in quiet moments
Allows us to wonder at the unfurling clouds
And the emerging beauty of spring.
That oh so gentle curve from neck to shoulder
That might simply be beautiful rather than just sexual.
Even that small voice of a child.
Any intuitive interaction
That might be seen to be too gentle
To be masculine.
Women’s preconceptions preclude these sensitivities.
I know. I’ve seen how the bastards always win.
Taunted by thigh and tit and scorned for responding
Unless we’re fancied or are able to be ruthless enough
To ignore another’s value. Like bastards.
However good you are in bed,
Or how large your heart may actually be,
The bastards always win.
And seem welcomed for this.
Even as they pretend to wail,
I scorn those crying women.
I died a million times tonight.
All I had to do was to remember,
And my heart crumbled.
So remind me,
What do I have to do to live?
I’m dying. My feet tell me so.
As I pace back and forth
Between hope and despair.
There’s no stairway to heaven here.
There’s no way to wisdom
Or any such feast.
Just meagre scraps that fall
From processes I don’t understand.
And as for love,
There’s no such thing.
Instead there’s a place in an hierarchy
That deserves regard or doesn’t.
Take your heart and crush it underfoot.
I might have loved you
If you hadn’t looked at me like that.
When I confessed my nature
Didn’t fit the modern way.
Silvered moon over the gleaming Danube.
Twinkling Budapest lights.
Where are you? Someone.
It would be good to nuzzle your lovely neck
Whilst seeing this.
If you stopped to ask him why,
As he sat filthy bent there on the street,
A few small coins in a paper cup,
Would he lift up his sag skinned face,
Filthy creased leather and wire wool beard,
Eyes red rimmed and shocking piercing,
And answer you?
Would he tell you his story?
Would he warn you why?
Would he tell of children and lost love?
Of missed chance and chances taken?
Would his eyes water with regret
Or turn deep with hidden meaning?
Or would he ask you the same question?
Well I watched you leave.
Even if no one else did.
Walking slightly too slowly perhaps,
Through the foggy small talk
Of gossip and football.
I don’t like it either.
You nested your hair
Into the exquisite nape
Of your neck
As you wrapped your scarf.
Then you left and ghosted alone
Into the cold dark.
If you’d turned to glance,
I would have smiled.
How do I train myself
To ignore that smooth silken curve
From neck to shoulder?
Those gentle swells
And that swinging curve
That slices through the world?
That sensous soft hair
Falling down her astonishing back?
How do I stop wanting this in her
Now that I’m of an age
That truly appreciates a beautiful woman
But is too old to be allowed
To know her?
In my glass bubble
I lie curled watching the world,
Sure I must be safe.
My life this side of the great divide
But to my left we have
A dark place.
To my right we have
A place that dazzles.
And in front we have
The great divide.
Shapes whose lines break
To jagged edges,
And faces turned to see me
But are blurred
Like watching the world
Through a bathroom window.
My side makes sense to me.
Not so that other.
But it does echo so here.
And as eyes speak volumes
I draw near and move my hands up
Your silken back,
Drawing closer to wrap
My neck round yours
And scent your softness,
Drawing you tight to me
And knowing that sweet digression
From love to lust and back again.
Where is this essence that’s needed
To fill my void unseen
But felt so strongly?
I wrote some poetry tonight.
Yet my kitchen is knee deep in dirty dishes.
My painting lies unfinished upstairs
And if I had a bank manager anymore
He’d probably weep when he saw me.
And tonight I’ll sleep alone.
But my world is my own.
And as Diana Krall’s silky tones
Drape themselves across
My simple ills,
I find a warmth of sorts in solitude
Even in the sure knowledge that
I’m not alone.
Wet concrete steps reflected red neon lights.
Walking behind her past cold marble pillars
To the warm orange light of the foyer.
We walked up the stairs and the pleats of your skirt
Splayed like fingers spreading to cover you,
As you swayed in that inimitable way.
Then the crowd flowed in with babbling mouths
And I lost you in an ocean of grey suits and sequins.
These days long now watching setting sun
And remembering the sway of those splayed fingers.
A moment then when
I wanted to kill myself,
But then a small light.
Some random comment
In a song that said
It’s a wonderful life.
Such things connect us
In a web of influence,
So be careful
What you say.
And when you’re lonely
Then listen and look.
We’re all around you.
There’s a layer of life that’s sandwiched
Between what you have to do,
Called human interaction,
And what you actually do.
A meeting of minds and hopefully
That through combined insight
Share the unity.
But it rarely happens
As we scramble to build
Private worlds of things
In pursuit of the good life.
Voluntarily choosing but not by choice.
That play the double agent
To our true selves.
No one is there.
If I dare to turn the music off
The silence falls like a lead blanket
On my shoulders.
Run for bed.
Hide under the quilt and hopefully
Until the sun shines again through my window.
Then the birds are there.
And the news on BBC Radio 4.
But it’s hard to forget those florid dreams.
I think she was beautiful as well.
Clock slowly ticking.
People walk past my window.
Clock slowly ticking.
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
I’m not sure whether I was more taken aback by the question, or by the character who presented himself before me. Dressed in suede boots, black tights, a sequined T-shirt and some sort of translucent cloak, he’d interrupted my meandering path from late closing nightclub to home by suddenly jumping out of a dark alleyway.
I stopped. I didn’t have much choice. Swaying slightly, I looked at this person before me, stood there in falling drizzle, with laughter and the shouting voices of other revellers falling away behind me into some distance that hadn’t been there a moment before.
“Well who the hell do you think you are?” Spoken with more bravado than I felt. I was swaying back and forth. Not a good state to be in when challenging anyone, let alone some ranting pervert in a super hero costume.
He didn’t answer, and I started to feel really uneasy. One of the orange street lights was flickering, and the alleyway from whence this apparition had silently emerged kept alternating between sheer black, and ancient brickwork that ran with old water and rusty drainpipes.
Suddenly there were three parts to the world. There was my drunken perspective. There was the world of other people, laughing and shouting and calling to each other and going home together. And then there was this thing in front of me that clearly belonged to a different universe. He, or whatever it was, stood stock still and stared at me with an unmoving stillness. Irrefutable, irresistible. Not available for comment.
And his question hung there in the space between us, easily defeating my hastily muttered response. Because even I knew that his question was bigger than mine.
I was going to say that time stood still. But that sounds like such a cliche. That is what it was like though. I became aware. There, alone, I saw the orange of the heavy bellied cloud passing curious over the city. I saw the glossy windows of shops and offices that lined the road that made my direction, frozen and waiting for an answer to the question. I heard those people behind me, in a disconnected and staccato way that made no sense – they became mere sounds without language, distant and meaningless. And this apparition stood there before me, completely still and staring and waiting for an answer.
The only thing that had clarity, and was comprehensible, was the question.
And then the people behind me caught up and passed me, arm in arm and laughing and joshing and singing and ignoring me standing in their midst as they poured past me, like water flowing past a rock in midstream. There was me, and him, and them. And then they passed on, seemingly without noticing me standing there.
And the last person to walk past was Julie. Arm linked with some bloke. Teetering slightly, and leaning her head towards his shoulder. Neither said anything. They just followed the crowd. He walking stiffly, she languid and seeking comfort. They walked in silence. A crystal termination to the the crowd that preceded them. A silent and reflective backstop. A full stop.
I watched all of this as though I wasn’t really there. As though I was invisible. Stood there swaying faintly, hair drizzle damped and a drop of water forming on the end of my nose. Julie receded and finally disappeared round the corner, still hanging on to her upright man in needing quiet, saying nothing and being led.
I’d been well intentioned. Friday night. Single man. Pub with friends. Club afterwards. But the friends had melded away somehow, and I’d ended up sitting watching everything alone. Detached. Unhappy but unable to admit why I felt so bleak amongst people so apparently happy.
I’d turned towards the bar and accidentally bumped Julie, who was waiting to be served. And for a very brief instant as our eyes each registered the other’s in passing, some recognition of loneliness occurred. Just for an instant. And in that instant my otherwise serene sea surged and blistered and boiled with suppressed emotion and, just for an instant, my eyes watered. Just for an instant. And then the de facto social behaviour kicked back in, and I looked at her more coldly. As one stranger does to another. I’d seen that instant in her too, but the protocol insisted that it be ignored.
She was beautiful. Just utterly, stunningly beautiful. In all sorts of different ways, glimpsed in a flash over a single second and then cast to one side. And I watched the barman instead. Then, in some slow time way, I turned to meet her eyes again and she did too, and there was a small smile. But the heave and chaos of everything around us pushed in and our communication was drowned out, and we looked away again.
Flashing neon light flickered and soaked the air about me and everyone and everything was moving. The barman was so fast, and everyone called out to everyone else, and laughed and joked, and sound lay like a blanket of writhing worms over the entire pulsating place. Except for Julie and me. We stood free from it for a moment, aware of each other and nothing else. Quiet and detached awareness in a single moment. A flash of understanding. Incongruent state. Smooth water in a roiling sea.
Then the sound ocean came flooding back like a tsunami, washing anything genuine away, and leaving only the broken stumps of something that could have been said.
She bought her drink, and I bought mine.
“I know you don’t I?” God could I not come up with something more original?
And she turned and smiled such a smile that outshone the universe, reducing everything to grey light and everyone around me receded and became silent as I waited for her reply. In that moment I knew how utterly unhappy I was. How my life comprised mere existence. A sun with no horizon to rise above. In just a few seconds life quickened and compressed and simplified and reduced and I knew far more than I’d ever known before. I realised so much more than I needed to know. The glistening white mountain peak that was my supposed life turned into a tumbling avalanche sweeping all illusion before it and landing collapsed in a heap at the bottom of a slope I thought I’d conquered.
This all happened in an instant. Nothing more. Just a chance meeting of eyes. A glance and smile.
“I don’t think so.” she said. “My name’s Julie.” And then she turned to pay the barman. I watched him. I’m a man. I know men. I saw his eyes. Perhaps he also saw himself in that moment. Perhaps he was also forced to face himself.
All of this came flooding back to me as I stood there, damp and drizzled on and ignored and standing there still in the middle of the street. Once Julie and her partner has disappeared round the corner, there was me and the soft drizzling rain, and the silently flashing neon lights, and nothing else. The weird super hero had gone.
I woke and the real world rushed back again, quieter this time.
I carried on walking, deep in thought but seeing myself walking, from above. I rounded the corner. There stood Julie, all alone in the wide road, vapid commercial lights around her pulsating blurred through the falling rain. She was still and bowed and sad and longing. Everyone else had long since moved on, and she stood there in silence. She’d seen me and she’d waited for me.
I didn’t stop. I carried on walking towards her and as I approached, her eyes lifted and met mine and I reached out and gently took her in my arms and wrapped myself around her and we both stood there still, in the flickering lights of vainglorious butterfly shop windows and held each other very quietly. Nothing needed to be said, and for the first time in my life, I knew what it meant to be happy.
Now I’ve left the movie
And I walk alone through the couples
Billing and cooing and wending their
Way back to their cars and on
To their warm homes together.
I walk past some sorry excuse
That sits there with his cider
Hidden poorly in a bag.
And some slag with legs bare
And tits flaunted to drive me mad
Staggers past with some chav leering
At me to taunt me even more.
I followed them and watched them
And in my mind I felt them
And I ate them
And I swallowed them.
And as the neon windows flickered
Crazily over snow bound pavements,
I saw the sun rise in my mind
And I drew my gun and
I blew their fucking brains out.
Then in a certain patch of snow
The neon stopped flickering
And stayed blood red.
Where is there a place that suits my intensity?
Some gathering place of similar souls
Who consider the universe as part of themselves
And wonder the why of hanging apples
Left waiting to drop after long summers warmth.
Similar souls weep
And laugh as one
And gain strength and
Solace from the other.
Strong one perceived
As they receive
Some unspoken wisdom
From each other
Like rain from clouds.
Darkness now creeps
At the end of the day
Towards my house.
A shadow of shadows
Moving slowly to change
Trees become gaunt
And rooms full of dark places.
The quiet is sinister.
Not the quiet of the town
But the quiet of the fields.
Damp and still.
And I sit here and think
And watch my life lapped
By darkness like an ocean
On an unknown shore.
What use is there in brightness
If it isn’t seen?
To be a place unknown
Is to be alone and vice a versa.
Some busker plays loud
In the city and with soul
But still isn’t heard truly.
Islands are islands
Surrounded by wet cold water
Wherever they are.
If we were boats we could drift free
Over the water and laugh
At the irony of it all.
But it’s our nature to take the bruising.
It’ll pass and we’ll stand proud one day
In silver smooth life having stood our ground
And cried unyielding to prove our worth.
Ephemeral maybe but there
On the other side of the street
Across the shining tarmac
Past butterfly windows
I saw you walking in the crowd.
But then like a cloud you
Changed and vanished.
Perhaps were never there.
So I turned my head and stayed walking
Against the crowd.
And faced the stoney faced people
Moving anonymous like fish.
And those unblinking lights
Shined on wet pavements
And the roiling clouds
Rolled fat belly down across shining roofs.
And people walked past unseeing.
I watched detached.
It’s something to be alone.
Good and bad on the outside.
Ostentatious windows like
Vain butterflies showed themselves
But their motives were suspect.
Making me lust for its own sake
After illusions and tricksy tools
Designed to fool me into making
Something of me that I’m not.
I would have liked you to notice
That I stood apart from the crowd.
Am the real thing.
Perhaps I didn’t and am not.
Perhaps you saw me as I see them.
I would prefer then to float away.
To rise and drift between roiling thunder
And mindless masses.
Seeing both and you
And being part of the wind.
These things we become attached to.
Like our children’s gifts and imagined futures
That are our own desires,
Like the scent and smoothness of a woman,
Or the hard sensuality of a man,
That are our own desires
And only maybe theirs.
So what is a desire?
Like waking in the morning
And looking out at dripping grey
And therefore wanting?
Or rather knowing some hardcore
Need that can’t be cleanly declared?
We spend so much time wanting,
The wet warmth of a woman,
Or the firm guidance of a man,
The better thing that is theirs,
But so we miss the gentle happening all around us
That by its neglect declares the true nature
Of our real desires
As it all tries quietly to satisfy in a taken for granted way.
This area is supposed to be personal.
Yet it isn’t.
We all know this as we share
The same warts and wants
And shames and doubts,
And cry quietly into our pillows at night.
Desire reigns in three kingdoms,
That of the flesh
And that of the heart
And that of the mind.
Pulled three ways thus we’re bound
Always to be trying to find
Some utopian compromise that
By cold mathematical law
Is unlikely to come our way.
Like some small slippery thing wending through
An always changing liquid sea world
That shifts and carries us whatever way.
Some small times we cross a coincidence
Of circumstance that makes our heart leap
And our minds to find some rhythm
In the otherwise inscrutable chaos
That we swim through.
Good luck my friend
And I hope to see your light
Shimmering through my dark,
As I wend my way and maybe
We’ll find some coincident desire
That blends our paths.
I switched the engine off and sat and watched
Across the raindrop pearled roofs of cars at the door
Of the supermarket as that fat woman with four kids
Emerged laden with bags.
Frowning face and sour grimace determined
With a copy of the Sun folded under her arm.
Knowing it all and knowing nothing at all.
But determinedly so.
Switching my car to quiet I opened the door and walked
Towards her and sought some kind of small smiling connection
But she looked through me to some trial beyond
And I stayed my way towards the groceries.
Baked beans, bread, pasta, some cake or other.
Then the checkout with the others in line.
Some boy who’d left school too soon
Watching the rain dribble down the pane
As the goods went through. And the woman behind
Scanned my buys and drew a picture of me.
And looked away quietly.
Then the walk back through the puddles,
And the relief of closing the car door on it all
And driving away hopeful of something better,
But drawing nearer to my empty home.
Down country lanes shining with rain
To the pub, where all was bubbly laughter,
I bought my first pint of excellent ale
And turned to join the fray.
And then went quiet and watching
As my friends acted out their evening together.
I felt distant and observing
And not a participant.
Watching mouths opening and closing,
Private jokes at the expense of others,
And laughter that sat ill with
Self conscious eyes.
The elderly couple at their table
In the corner. Children of the sixties.
She glancing askance at our bad language.
Not such a rebel now.
The silent, strong man at the end of the bar.
Farm worker, alienated by middle class guffaws
And choosing to stay in his world.
A force field hanging between us.
Jocular barman, making his jokes
Straddling divides and hearing all
And saying nothing
That might offend.
A group of people together
In a small building surrounded by fields
In the dark and the rain
And not seeing each other.
Not even seeing themselves.