Solitary Diseases

Being alone is dangerous.  Being alone can transform the safest, most routine activities into deadly gambles and can change a simple ritual into a chronic symptom.  But for the most part, we don’t know the risks we’re running.

Everyone seems to know that drinking alone is bad and to be avoided.  A glass of wine with dinner, fine – but only if you appreciate the vintage.  If you drink it to relax, beware!  You could be self-medicating.  This is only true if you drink alone, mind.

And thanks to that wisdom, many of us do the right thing and abstain from solitary drinking of any kind, preferring instead to descend into the spiral of stress, anxiety and depression.  But why is drinking the only vice that is thus tainted?  Here’s the truth: it isn’t.  So in the interest of public safety, let’s run down a list of activities that become pernicious as soon as you do them on your own.

1. Dancing alone.  Dancing is supposed to be social.  It’s right there in the word itself.  Only sick, twisted people dance alone, typically late at night while sliding around on the floor in their socks.  Or so I am told.  This might seem fun, or even harmless.  But in truth, it is a sure symptom of the purest form of insanity.  Just ask Jay Kay.  Or take a look at confirmed nutcase, Christopher Walken.  They probably didn’t think too much of it at the time either.  Upside: You will look awesome.

2. Smoking alone.  Smoking alone is not talked about too much, maybe since smoking in general is generally frowned upon.  It is, however, dangerous.  Second-hand smoke, casual smoke, chain smoke?  No problem.  Maybe cancer, maybe a debilitating lung disease.  Maybe both.  But what does smoking ALONE mean?  It means you might very well be a film noir protagonist.  Or even an ancillary character.  Can you think of anything more dangerous?  Upside: see number 1.

3. Talking alone.  You might think, “Oh, I know this one, it’s obvious – dementia, schizophrenia - some sort of mental illness where you hallucinate.”  But no.  After all, what do we say about people who hear voices, or see visions (and answer them)?  They’re talking to people that only they can see/hear.  Does that sound like “being alone” to you?  No, in truth talking alone is a sign that you are, unfortunately, a talkative person.  Yikes.  Upside: maybe you have something interesting to say?

4. Dying alone.  This means you are Captain Kirk – oh wait, just kidding.  In fact, this suggests that you are most likely dying, which is in most cases fatal.  If only you had someone with medical training to help you, but no – you wanted to be alone, remember?  Upside: at least you don’t have to worry about any of the above.

Sea Lion

Courage I lack, and you conviction
Together we drift toward dereliction.
And it would take a most ingenious mind
To salvage something worthwhile this time.
Me to the currents and you to the eels
The water is so much gentler as it peels
Off the flesh, steals out the bones
But leaves the vest and the fancy shoes alone.
Diamond glasses in our hands, saltwater shaker
A rough drink to swallow, when off to the maker.
The glamour is gone, the lights and the color
Even the looks of disgust for each other
And what dulls more, the pain or the guilt;
The wash of the sand or the settling of silt?
And when it’s all dark will the silence remind us;
WIll submarine lights shine and be kind to us?
Too deep for the waves and for ocean tides
And forgotten and lost by all human guides
We’ve only each other – to help and to save
And if you would be strong then I would be brave.


Every week the world slips away.
I sit on top of the mountain, now.
I’ve thrust my hammers into the ice
And harnessed myself with fat blue rope.
But sometimes I peer over the railing
And wonder how it all fell away so fast.
It’s not good to look for too long though,
This ground is unstable and I might not get back.
Each step up the slope is harder than the last,
And when it all gives out I will climb the rope.
I’ve bolted the desk to the solid rock,
But I worry about the chair – the wheels
Would make a merry song as they roll down
Into the abyss, and I know that’s what they want.
And so I endure, waiting as the world slips away;
Waiting until I’m allowed to go with it.


Two chimes of the clock:
The second ring, the second knock.
A minute hand, a tiny fist,
A palm which sways and lists
A count of citizens in the square,
Who dictates their acts and affairs,
Which end when the curtain falls
Splash down over the rocky walls.


Would it be wrong for me to say
That I’d like you to go away?
Would it be rude to yawn and groan
Whenever we are together, alone?

Is it improper to give you all the blame
For the fact that I find you incredibly lame?
Is it obscene or maybe just mean
To desire that your clock be especially clean?

Could it be bizarre, or maybe just strange,
That I started this poem in an anti-social rage?
Could it be that with lines so silly and trite
I have made my disposition cheerful and bright?

Cause for Reflection.

‘Look again’, she said,
And held the pale glass up.
I gazed and looked and stared,
Then finally said; “Enough.”
“These games were fun an hour ago,
But now I’ve lost my patience.
What do you think that I should see,
In this fragile looking glass?”

With that she smiled and showed her teeth,
So white and square and perfect,
“Why only that, which all men see,
When they have reason to reflect.”
She turned her gaze itself upon
The glinting, gleaming object,
And with her hand she tucked a strand
Of hair beneath her cap

I noticed then; her eyes had not
Departed from the mirror.
And yet, she’d seen that hair, so fine,
Not a measure less clearer
‘Tell me’ I cried ‘tell me, do you see,
When you peruse that item,
Your own true self reflected back,
As though t’were your simulacrum?’

“Indeed.” She said, and I felt such dread
Go pouring through my veins.
I clenched my jaw, and gnawed my lip,
And felt the stabbing pain.
A lovely taste then, filled my mouth,
That seemed never to fade,
As blood ran from the open wound
My sharp incisors made.

Ballad of General Jackson

A stone wall, a stone wall,
Or perhaps a place where stones may fall?
Might it be that happenstance,
Has brought these boulders here by chance?

Should I endeavor to discover,
Like some disenchanted lover,
Forsaking ignorance and bliss
To recognise what lies amiss?

Why then I might have cause to pause,
Cause recognised by local laws,
And on this land that’s not my own
I’d stand a while and gaze, alone.

But I won’t take the nobler way,
For then I might be here all day,
And who among us has time so free
To ponder rocks beneath a tree?

And so I’ll suffer for my choice
And never give this wall a voice
But all is fair in love and war
And in masonry, why, even more.

As I walk away I turn
And looking back I can discern
The heaps of stones still in their place;
My absence gives them no disgrace.

And what is then the point, I ask,
If things which were, once, built to last,
Become mere gawking tools, no more,
What’s the point, if that’s in store?

For all that we might leave behind
And furthermore, should we mind?
To be lost to time and now disdain
Do monumenta feel the same?


If words were food, I’d safely state
I’d never seen you refuse a plate
If idle talk were ardent spirits
I’d say you oft surpassed your limits
If being a bore were hard work, and more,
We’d all know you’d never shirk such a chore.
So how do I tell you to go on a diet?
Maybe something like this – please, just be quiet!