Tag Archive for Loneliness

77th and Madison: Top of the World

The elevator was wood paneled with a dark reddish luster, and the doors were covered in gold leaf. We stepped inside and began our ascent, above the rest of the city. Madison Avenue and 77 th street, top of the world. The doors finally opened to reveal a dimly lit hallway with three doors. Mike knocked on the first one to the right. A thin girl wearing tight jeans and an even tighter black tank top opened the door. Her eyes, covered with eye shadow, seemed as though she peered out from two cavernous holes in her face.

The skin on her forearms was barely visible due to the innumerable bracelets which covered her arms.

Mike quickly brushed past her without any sort of salutation. As I walked up to introduce myself she quickly turned her back to me and followed Mike deeper into the apartment.

“Mike, did you bring me my cigarettes?” she whined as she trailed after him through the apartment and into the kitchen.

I paused a moment in the doorway to imbibe the surrounding atmosphere of the apartment. I looked around incredulously at the elaborate decorations of the house. To my right hung some sort of old portrait which could have dated back to the colonial America. The entire floor of the apartment was lavishly covered with an immaculate white carpet.   I thought that these kinds of apartments were merely myths.

I proceeded to explore the depths of the apartment in search of Mike. As I looked around I noticed a door cracked open, I peered inside and opened it slowly. There was indeterminable number of people on the bed watching a movie. I stood there for a moment debating whether or not I should I go in and introduce myself, until someone got off from the bed, walked briskly to the door and closed it in my face. I decided not to go in.   I hurried into the kitchen.

The kitchen was at least twice as large as any room in my house. Mike stood by an industrial sized fridge and beckoned me towards him. As he rummaged through the fridge he paused, and reached into his coat pulling out a pack of cigarettes, he tossed them to the floor in front of the girl with too much eye shadow. She lunged fervently for the box and began to tear it open. Mike reached into the fridge and passed me a coke, while retrieving one for himself as well.  

“I’m telling you man this girl is so rich—Just look around!” he exclaimed.

Mike spent the majority of the taxi ride uptown divulging exactly “how rich this girl was.”

Natalie walked over to Mike and looked at me carefully from head to toe.

“He looks like an icky homeless guy” she said decidedly. “What’s his name?” she inquired.

I looked up, a little surprised.

“Ben meet Natalie—Natalie meet Ben,” he said in a slightly restless way. After this cordial introduction Mike quickly took a seat in front of the television and resumed his concentrated video game playing. I smiled jovially at Natalie to show that I wasn’t annoyed, she merely looked past me. I proceeded to sip my coke quietly as we both watched Mike play Nintendo silently. As we stared out into nothing my eyes drifted to Natalie’s; those black holes in her face. She looked up at me and for a split second, her eyes begged for sympathy and escape.

“Excuse me, I need a Perrier,” she whined.

She quickly turned from me and went to the furthest point of the kitchen to get one. Mike turned to me with a look of enthusiasm in his eyes, “how ridiculous is this house?” he exclaimed enthusiastically.

Before I had a chance to answer he resumed his playing and began muttering exactly how rich and how nice Natalie’s house was. A raspy almost seductive voice called from the doorway:

“Mike! You’re here, finally it’s been so boring here, let’s go somewhere! Do something already!” she exclaimed desperately.

This voice belonged to a girl wearing a blue slip with feisty green eyes. she had a voluptuous body which filled her blue slip nicely.

“Yeah, whatever soon, just chill! I’ll figure something out” Mike said coolly. He turned to me and shot me a smile as if to say: hey look I’m in charge here.  

I stood up to introduce myself, and just as I walked toward her she walked through me and sat in my seat at the table.

“I need another cigarette. Pass them here Ashley” whined Natalie.

“You know those things will kill you” I said teasingly.

She abruptly turned to me and glared out from the black holes that were here eye sockets. She smoothly turned her back towards me once again, and proceeded to take another cigarette out of the carton bringing it to her lips and slowly lighting it.

A small, black poodle which defied Darwin’s laws of Natural selection pranced into the kitchen yapping and jumped around. Ashley picked up the dog and placed it on her lap; she took a drag on her cigarette, and subsequently exhaled a cloud of smoke into the dog’s face. The dog, assaulted, leaped down and retreated to the safety of her cage.

A small grin slowly creeped across Ashley’s faces, and faded just as slowly. It was the first sign of emotion I saw from her all night.

“Let’s get out of here, I’m like so bored just sitting here!” Ashley winced almost painfully.

“We could go to John’s house, I heard that he was gonna have people there” suggested Natalie.

“Eww I really just don’t like John, his house is so cramped and small” Ashley complained.

We all sat in silence for a few moments until Ashley finally got up and proceeded to the kitchen door; she paused and shot Mike a seductive smile. Mike quickly followed her out of the kitchen.  

This left Natalie and I alone in the kitchen together. Natalie sat at the table while I sat on the floor.

“So do you have these sorts of gatherings often?” I inquired.

Her eyes remained fixated on the wall ahead of her as she answered me.

“Meh, they just sorta show up” she paused looking a bit downtrodden “I don’t mind though, their friends of mine” she continued with a twinge of forced cheeriness in her voice. We sat in silence for several moments until Natalie went to rejoin everyone else in the bedroom. I sat in the kitchen alone. I let myself out and rode the elevator back to reality. I walked along the deserted Madison Avenue under the pallid glow of the street lamps overhead.


She suspects she has only ever had one true affair with the knife, and all those since have been meagre attempts at regurgitation, petty rivalries born of intention and tainted by the anticlimax of recreation. She sits daily watching the synthetic roses, virulent with red, fluoresce persistently on the porch. Moth-bitten, with broken stems and a hairline crack running the length of the ceramic pot that marks their station on the brick step. She sits observing their activity, disassociates herself from the solemn sermon their blushing heads deliver, ducking in the wind. Waiting for something to happen. She has lost, or perceives she has lost (and looks for death on the horizon because she fears she has lost) the ability to make things occur. How useful youth was in the day-to-day creation of happenings. Now she has displaced the seasons, and the pleasant expanse of nothingness, a featureless backdrop, assimilates itself to her emotionless countenance, as she welcomes the weather.

Her father’s house, in the Polish town. Its healthy walls, its strong bone structure. She found it easily, buried knee-deep in the liquid winter, and enquired of the locals as to whether anyone currently resided there. They regarded her, not more obliging than they were wary, with the heavy, knowing gaze of people carrying the burden of the past—both pervasive and private. Her accent was rusty, the native tongue had long since been liberated—a stray cut loose from its derelict cultural confinement. She spoke in dislocated dialogue; the secure, prosaic language of dinner parties and familial get-togethers. Of pleasantries exchanged between well-wishing strangers. Broken German from an elementary textbook. How she hated the sluggish tongue, the barren vowels that tripped reluctantly from the lips, imprisoned by the teeth. The English language seemed a positive ballad of elegant syllables. She had wished never to hear these sunken verbs again. She had tried to forget it all, but they spoke with a dramatic flourish, demanding that she remember, their tone didactic and intense with purpose. Those primitive villagers, deeply set in their archaic ways, the spit in the palm. Such old gestures seem a blessing on unimaginative bones, bones of gypsy ancestry; wrapped in incense and adorned with elaborate jewellery. She briefly caught the delicate, sickly scent of patchouli and lavender, an odour that seeped from their pores, travelled on the breath and suggested unrelenting hardship and wisdom and infinite strength.

She walked self-consciously, away from them, shielding herself from their accusatory recognition, feeling a pariah, a fugitive. As though wearing the flag of her inheritance on her lapel.

Her father died when she was ten, as did most fathers in the war. Fathers, and men. It was never a thing to be fussed over, death is the most reliable thing about life, everyone knows that. And they had dared to glorify it, morph it into a gross celebration. Stripped it of its austerity and depth. Spoke of souls and eternity. She could not allow for this, and carried the weight of his demise with her for so many years, never daring nor feeling inclined to lay it down. To dismantle it. What else can be born of death but sorrow? What else can be born at all?

She retreats to the stairs and pauses to consider the black telephone crouched on its haunches, ready to pounce. To announce. People don’t much come up to the house, it is miles away from the assaulting imposition of neighbouring cities. She doesn’t receive visitors warmly, and all prospective suitors dispatched by well-wishing relatives invariably retire back to their distant homes after an evening of her company, unsettled and discouraged, for she has created for herself a feminine mystique that cannot be penetrated by mere mortal man. She appears in their perception brisk, evasive, and preoccupied. She concentrates on cultivating a solid, scarlet heart to beat a constant rhythm against the world of the dying. She is keeping death out in the physical sense, assimilating herself to the prospect of solitary eternity and forming no attachments.

Sometimes she feels an inexplicable longing for the anonymity of the city, where such informal tools of misinformation as gossip and hearsay are not so readily employed. She envies them their compartmentalized lives, regimented working hours; those unobtrusive strangers who would submit to anything to avoid confrontation. A positive conglomeration of drifting, nameless particles, condensed within the thriving nebula of the city, where one could get smaller every day and very likely disappear.

But the suffocation. She politely declines, preferring to spend her days in the soft sunlight, arranging the weary roses.

She attempts to sweep away the misguided bugs with a few hesitant gestures of the hand. Soon blue saline solutions will wave a salutation to such foreign guests. Her light fingers graze the frayed edges of their heads; the bloody inks are particularly exciting in the sunlight. When the thought of blood transpires, the dizzying swell of the heart’s diastole and systole rises in her chest, a pressing undulation. So perhaps it comes as no conscious surprise when, upon brandishing the pruning sheers in order to trim the petals of their half-eaten siblings, she clips her finger instead of a stem, loosening a sizeable flap of skin over a current of blood. She resists the urge to suck the wound, but stares at her finger, suddenly regarding it as one does an unfamiliar object; a digit not attached to herself. How exquisite a ruby red the blood appears to be, and how warm against the skin. It is amazing how, upon mutilation, a body part becomes something external to the person to which it belongs, merely a treasured belonging. She stares at the finger for so long that it ceases to be a finger, in the same way as a word fails to register in the consciousness as legitimate when it has been repeatedly vocalised. Perhaps there is a separate self that exists beyond the body of physical composites. She puts down the sheers and rearranges the flowers, marvelling over her secret discovery.

Oh, Father. Now is but a moment passing. When does the future become the present and the present become the past? When do the living become the dying, and the dead become the forgotten? The brutish become the commemorated for the death that cleans the slate? Where does the tongue become the throat, and the voice become the word? The heart cease to be the person, but something bigger altogether?


I spent the weekend

Doing just what I wanted

Sitting alone at home

Talking to no one

And thinking


I played some new songs

On my beat-up stereo

And sung along

With all the passion

I ever had


I read some out of a pulp novel

I bought at an airport

And wrote a little

A poem or two

But nothing too good


I picked up the old guitar

From next to my bed

With the broken string

And played three notes

Then put it back down


I turned my stereo back on

And played a tape

That had been given to me

By a good friend

Who moved away last year


I remembered how we

Spent our weekends together

With me on the guitar

And her singing softly

Her voice choking on emotion


I spent the weekend

Doing just what I hated

Sitting alone right here

Talking to nobody

And crying

With all that I held


’til the pain went away

So Thick Your Fear

Run me ragged and drag

me through the gate

and lock me up, order

me to stay

the way I am

even while this tightness

makes my chest expand

I try to tell you

that I need to be trusted

but you can’t hear me so thick

is your fear

that it cuts off our love.

With all my soul

I will myself

to understand

but my anger rises

like a tide that will sweep

me away from you. I tried

to tell you that I needed freedom

and you locked me up and lost

the key to our love

in your lack of faith,

and I change

the way that you said I would,

but if you had stayed close to my heart

we could have grown together

instead I grow alone,

I grow apart,

until I am gone.

Pattern of Forgiveness

The night is yours alone—

Shadows gawk through darkness—

You uphold dignity in your stance,

A simple smile.


We all hurt inside—

We all let loneliness wash over.

Restraints we set for ourselves

Are broken by others.


A faded tissue here to hold—

Blanketed by tears of remorse.

Every faint sound—every motion…

Becomes a pattern of forgiveness.


Light cracks through shadowed blinds—

Once again…

My eyes shut,

Waiting for dreams.

Even Public Transport Arrives Eventually

We’re all waiting

For the right one

To come along

Make everything better.

Waiting to share food

With a real life human

Not a television version

Who smiles without us.

Waiting for the voice

To articulate our hearts

And lift us

Right when we need it.

Waiting for a hand to hold

Down a street

Through fear

In ecstasy.

We can’t help waiting

It’s called being human

It all comes down to

What we do in the meantime.


I got off the train, not knowing where I had to travel in the cold night. I had a rough idea, but I’ve been having terrible luck trusting my rough ideas lately. I thought I’d ask someone for details. The passengers that had gotten off the train with me obviously knew where they were going, because their strides were purposeful and quick. Looking for someone to help, I turned to a middle-aged lady in smart business clothes and voiced my question. She looked at me strangely for a second, as though I was speaking a foreign language, then just as quickly she snapped out of it and told me the direction I had to walk. Then she added “But I have to go that way. I can give you a ride if you’d like.”

When she said that my mind traveled years back to primary school, when they would sit us all down on the floor and try to convince us not to do stupid things. Don’t light fires. Don’t play with guns. Don’t trust anyone wearing a trench coat. Don’t accept rides from strangers.

I’ve broken most of these, except the trench coat one, so I decided that I should accept her offer. The situation, statistically speaking, was more dangerous for her than for me. Newspapers are hardly littered with stories about middle-aged women kidnapping and torturing innocent teenage boys.


We walked to her car. She pointed it out to me, and I wasn’t surprised to see that it was a little red two-door BMW. She opened the door for me first and I slipped into the leather seats, running my hands along the wood dashboard that contained an elaborate stereo system. I pictured her zipping along the road, humming happily along to a Brahms concerto. Or maybe some jazz. I didn’t ask her. Sitting in her car I was consumed by warmth, not just from the heating, but because of her. If men use cars as penis extensions, this was the female equivalent.

We kept talking. It was on a different level to small talk, but neither of us said what we were thinking. I felt her quiet desperation—she told me of her divorce; or rather she talked enough to let it slip. She talked about her sons and their jobs and wives. I’ve never experienced any of it but I had an idea how she felt. Feelings are rarely different, only the catalysts.

We drove down some very dark streets and it occurred to me that maybe women picking up young boys in cars happens all the time, just doesn’t make the papers. I have to say that the prospect didn’t worry me greatly. I felt like she might need it in some weird animal way. Her respectable world of business wear and dinner parties and BMWs and sons with high-paying jobs probably didn’t have much of an outlet for selfish and carnal pursuits. If she thought I could help, I would try my best. The years had been kind to her, not just financially, and I felt like telling her.

But of course I didn’t. It may have been my own loneliness that I could smell. Perhaps she was completely happy with her existence, and only offered a ride to a stranger out of kindness, and not for the thrill of the unknown, the chance that something, anything, could happen. Maybe she didn’t sense the opportunity that we could both waste some of our lives doing something for no reason. Or that we could be honest despite our species’ aversion to it.

My stop came quickly. I lingered while we finished talking. She touched my knee before I opened the door. It was as though she wanted to know I was real. Neither of us had the words that night, or the abandon to bypass words in favor of lust. When I closed the door and crossed the road she spoke again. They were related to what we were talking about but not what we were thinking. I replied with a laugh and another note of gratitude, to which she smiled. I kept walking and she drove off into the night.

Crying Out

Oh God,

put your arms around me

and whisper in my ear

Late at night, in my dreams

when I feel like

crying out, for I fear

I cannot hear

your whisper or voice

Late at night, in my soul

when I feel like

crying out, and I

know it to be

sweet as candy

soft as velvet

and evertouching in my heart

Speak to me Lord

Late at night in my mind

when I feel like

crying out, ’cause when

I was a little


I’m sure I heard you then

Late at night, in my crib

when I felt like

crying out, I want

to hear you now

when I need you

Is that really too much to ask?

Late at night in my bed

when I feel like

crying out.


Every single one of us

Has an island of our own.

Trapped and racked by storms,

Each one stands alone.


We sometimes hear soft whispers

Guided to us on the breeze,

Across the empty spaces,

And across the deep blue seas.


And so we tell ourselves

That we are not alone,

That there are others out there

On islands of their own.


So our eyes scan the horizon

For any sign of life at all,

But the sea remains a barrier,

A never-bending wall.


We may brush with others,

As long or briefly as may be.

But all of us, in truth, we are

Divided by a raging sea.


There is no boat, no raft, no ship,

Strong enough to pass by here.

The winds are too strong and too rough,

And so we remain trapped by fear.


We have not the courage

To leave all that we know.

There are no sails to draw us on,

And it’s much too far to row.


And so every single one of us

Remains on a island of our own.

Trapped by fear of what is different,

And ultimately alone.


Tears flood out of my eyes

I go red and angry

I shout, I scream

But no one hears me

I know it’s useless

but I scream again

I feel faint

The tears I shed

Like scattering the evil

I feel cold and empty

I feel alone

I am alone


My tears are never-ending

My tears fall like blood

As I think of it all

I cut deeper and deeper

More tears are shed

I wait for someone

To comfort

But no one comes

My tears seem to take the pain away

But my thoughts merely

replace the pain


The pain I feel

is stronger than iron

Stronger than bone

The pain just crushes me

I sit in the corner

crushed by the intense pain

I can only imagine happiness,

Thought with each tear

the memories slip away

further and further

My tears begin to dry

My wound is but left.