Struck by Loneliness

Photo by Marta Wave on

A few years back, the start of my school year was interrupted by jury duty. Rather than welcoming students back to the study of Advanced Placement English or British Literature after another seemingly-too-short summer (I know, I shouldn’t complain), I spent my days weighing the evidence in a civil court case. In all, I only lost about a week of school, but gained a greater appreciation for our justice system. If you get the chance to serve, you should. It’s not the nightmare that some television shows paint it to be.

On the daily twenty-minute commute between the courthouse and my home, I started to notice the faces of the people in the cars traveling in the opposite direction. My usual commute to work being five minutes (or less), I never took the time to notice faces (also, isn’t that a bit nosy and generally unsafe? ). In this high-speed people watching, I noticed how few cars had more than one person inside. So many people traveling all alone, likely to work, perhaps to spend the day sequestered in office cubicles in front of a computer screen. Solitary digits doing solitary jobs. Such loneliness. (Ah! Bartleby! Ah! Humanity!)

The poem is titled “Loneliness,” but rather than using the letters that make up the word, I chose to represent the title in the binary alphabet, a silent nod to the isolation that occurs in the guise of progress and through many forms of social media. As much as I love the ability to post my thoughts and poetry online so that anyone with internet access around the world can read them, it’s not the same as sharing around the table with close friends over a cup of coffee, or a good pint of ale if you’re fond of the Inklings. Oh, for less of these wireless lives!

01101100 01101111 01101110 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100101 01110011 01110011

Vincent H. Anastasi - 2015

On this rushed commute
	to the courthouse, Thursday morning,
I am struck
	by the stoic faces
	passing me at sixty or seventy miles per hour
more forcibly than steel on steel —
	crumpled, twisted wrecks
	backing up for miles
	on the metaphorical interstate of life —
these fleeting isolated binary digits
	cut adrift
	wireless, if you will,
traveling to any number of provisional places;

And I am struck
	by this loneliness
	driving by myself
		a 0 or 1, depending on the day,
	passing cars
	passing homes
	passing cemeteries;
And I wonder

what could we create
if our lives collided
under the tectonic force
of relationships -
	risky, inexpedient, laborious,
	but abundant in recompense
	for the weight of loneliness:

these wireless lives.

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