“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”—Henry David Thoreau
By Dave Hood
Each morning, I wake up to the alarm
in an otherwise silent house,
fill my stomach with oatmeal cereal,
peanut butter on toast, sip a hot coffee,
read the newspaper at the kitchen table,
Except for the radio, I drive to work,
alone in my Chevy Cruise, often daydreaming,
sometimes noticing other strangers,
lost in thought, driving alone.
I wonder if they feel lonely, I ask myself.
From 9 to 5, I toil, alone at a desk,
in a small office, with four walls,
my eyes gazing at a flickering computer screen,
filled with impersonal numbers
that are like nameless faces.
Except for my dog, Maggie, who greets me
at the front door, I return to an empty home,
cook and eat a frozen dinner,
while listening to the appealing voice
of the attractive news woman on television.
Why can’t I meet a pretty, intelligent woman
like her, I think to myself.
Most nights, the telephone’s silent,
so I’ll sit alone, reading a book or writing,
listening to soothing jazz on the stereo.
When tired, I’ll drink a glass of water, swallow
my prescribed Prozax, crawl into a cold, double bed,
falling asleep, listening to talk radio.
Sometimes, I’ll awaken unexpectedly by a noise,
like a creak in the wooden floor, or the sound of branches
of the old maple, thrashing against the bedroom window,
then quickly realize I’m alone.
Some Saturday nights, when feeling optimistic,
I’ll venture out to a single’s dance, or crowded bar,
stand alone, sip a few beers, watch the lonely hearts,
mix and mingle.
I’m not like them, I’ll reassure myself.
Most Sunday afternoons, I’ll purchase
a ticket to a film, nibble on popcorn,
sip a pop, sit alone in an empty cinema.
Sometimes, I’ll catch a glimpse of another
person, perhaps a widow or elderly man,
sitting by themselves.
I often wonder if I’ll die alone,
like the elderly woman I read about
in the paper, who rotted in her apartment
for two months, before the smell
forced someone to notice her.
Or , perhaps by chance, I’ll run into
a pleasant, attractive, humorous woman,
who’ll share her optimistic perceptions of life,
provide me with the right prescription
to end my affliction of loneliness.