Counter Culture Cafe

The place where the antisocial
Gather to be alone
Each claiming a four-seat table
As space they can call their own.

We read, write and sip in silence
Observing our counterparts
Affronted by vocal violence
Where chattering children pass

I’m nearing the end of one cup
But pause while another stands
It wouldn’t be fair to counter
The pull of their drink demands

So queueing for table service
I duck to avoid the eye
Of waitress who makes me nervous
By bussing a bench nearby

We know those we see here often
But only on nodding terms
Some barriers never soften
And hand-shaking passes germs

Anxiety takes no notice
With all interactions dear
We pass out our days in closeness
And try to ignore our fear

We’re hardly inventing lonely
Though solitude equals peace
And we are our one and only
Unlikely to breed – we’ll cease

It isn’t a cause for wonder
That our generation stalls
When clearing one’s throat is thunder
Too sensitive for applause

And here in our counter culture
We’re safe from the fond embrace
We run from our awkward feelings
Too late to be in the race.

Outsider

Otherness, that Big Brotherness
Shy, awkward, standing-in-the-corner, self-hugger. Stressed
With anxiety. Though sobriety
Lends an inevitable hand to propriety. I stammer
Stuttering a greeting that gets lost upon our meeting
In the chaos, overheating, panic seeping ‘til I’m cheating
Stepping out for some air, with strangers turning to stare
At me becoming aware, of laughter everywhere… Surrounded
Following a pealing that can set all senses reeling
‘Til I’m floating near the ceiling, tongue-tied, fingerless, unfeeling.
Shake my hand? No conversation with the cowards of creation.
I am sinking with sensation when I hear the celebration –
Party pooper! Join the group-er! Super duper! Have you heard?
I am chatting through my hat and it is really quite absurd
Can’t stop thinking while you’re drinking that I’d rather be back home.
In the company of others I am stubbornly alone.
Please believe me that I didn’t want to crowd your little clique.
It’s not personal, no, not at all, I’m shy and quiet. Quick!
While they’re quizzical, get physical just grab a bag and go.
I’ll be cruising while you’re schmoozing, floosing, boozing yourself slow.
Thumping heart, still overheating, terror-beaten and guilt-eaten.
Stumble, tumble an apology then fumble past the seating.
Through the constant sea of voices calling for too many choices.
‘Bout to lose my cool again if I give in to Twist and Shout.
God, it’s lonely on the fringes of the automatic out.

Plato’s model

The likely days and nights that pass
reflecting in my mind’s cool glass
the happiness I would enjoy
with him I choose to be my boy
my twin, my heart, my other soul,
once split-apart, now makes me whole
but walking through the world I know
has brought me little but sorrow.
The one I recognized as such,
who made me laugh and pleased me much
did leave me sad and quite forlorn,
and crying even, when withdrawn
my source of love now quite unknown
chose once again to be alone.
Then did I find thee, gentle friend
who knowing I had reached wits’ end
did comfort me, and let me grow
before forcing your heart to show.
Thus all was done in goodly time
with pleasant passings, sweetened vine
now riper, richer, more mature
in this, as some, less can be more.
So I have found my split-apart,
saved grace, built home, and mended heart.

A Dedication

To those who flirt in quiet carriage
Never realizing the marriage
Witless, stupid, sally forth
Stumbling like pigs in trough
Blind to what we watchers know.
Deaf to sense and subtext-slow,
They chatter on, they fail to hear
The silent screams of these two ears.