The following poems map what isolation does to a human in our epoch of extreme interrelation, blurring the hot mirage of conjured reality with events from a diminished ambit into a sort of emotional impressionism. Loneliness alone, loneliness in company. The clinging to memory. The double consciousness of looking inside and out. Visions swinging between fear and wonder.
The story, “A Merry Trencherman,” aims to explore a widely held idea about overweight people, which is that they are jolly and carefree, and they know how to enjoy life. Toward the end of the short story, the narrator learns that his obese friend is far from merry, far from happy, even far from contented with his lot. The narrator discovers his friend is deeply dissatisfied with his life because of his condition. It should be obvious to people that obesity cannot march hand in hand with true happiness, yet the stereotype of the merry trencherman endures among many.
“The Moolian Stream” is about missing the company of true friends and loneliness. These have always been true for humans, but for groups such as immigrants and those who find themselves in exile, they are experienced more acutely. The exiled experience cultural isolation as well as existential and physical loneliness. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many others feel increasingly isolated.
Depression seems like an obvious flaw in the human condition. The symptoms of depression (everything from apathy, social isolation, and anhedonia to emptiness, sleeplessness, and ruminations) can make engaging in daily life absolutely impossible. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” Despite what seems like an obvious evolutionary handicap, research has shown depression has a variety of hidden benefits, such as encouraging attention to detail, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. By acknowledging depression’s hidden benefits, we can alter the way it impacts us individually and societally.
Is it better to have it all or to lose it all?