Apr/May 2022  •   Poetry

Five Qasidas of Loneliness

by David Jalajel

Upcycled, mixed media artwork by Keely Jane

Upcycled, mixed media artwork by Keely Jane

Five Qasidas of Loneliness

i. the commuter

you step off the railcar, catching your foot,
hands bite gravel as you alight

teeth rumbling as the train pushes on,
your toes throb in the frigid night

the grit crunches, rains down as you stand,
your eyes refocus on urban blight

(the papers were calling this station an eyesore)
you squint through a glare of city lights

& thank unseen stars the platform's deserted,
left foot's gone numb, but that's alright


ii. the bureaucrat

morning's moon hangs low & shrugs the clouds aside & nothing
you clasp in loving arms endures... it's time you learn:

how night's demise bequeaths to you a grand old flow of nothing,
no glistening stream babbles, no river rapids churn—

how rosy skies lay kisses on these golden fields of nothing,
no dawn light sheens the plain, no far-off mountains burn—

how the migrant flocks descend at sunrise & are nothing
but the poor folk your parish council chides & spurns—

so learn to shirk the burden of evicting folks with nothing,
call those city arses down to have a turn


iii. the defendant

you snivel in the high court of impudent fame
where blind mute cherubs blow trumpets of glass

you pray that your plea of not guilty absolves
your crimes of omission (& your social class)

so here's where you piss away heartfelt remorse,
your privilege floats belly-up through the morass

as you pawn off old scruples for an ersatz hope
to bury blame, to let it slip past

their axe-grinding, droning, truth-twisting appeals
while your hands wring a rosary of tarnished brass


iv. the artist

you proclaim the bling of the modern world cowers
before the churned-up energy of your megawatt-hours

you bleed dry the decadence of tomorrow's art
to distill a plasma that's unseasonably sour

& serve it stirred to rebels with a nebulous cause—
your vortex marks the flashpoint of every hour

& as it amasses the aura swirling round your face
& neons your manifesto-barking glower

with amalgams of angles & primal storms,
you mount an urban line-up of microwave towers

pulsing to our e-zines & video screens
your razor's-edge profile's boldness & power


v. the altruist

docile, moon-hardened, & lioned by distemper,
brash empath you've always been, chronically forlorn

nameless, nameless, & nameless again: your strays
are either dead, tamed to a torpor, or yet unborn

but wasn't your compersion reward for you enough—
you reel from your heady summit, incurably forsworn

& try to resuscitate the old euphoric feelings, mazing
through the luxuries & amenities you were famed to scorn

(so fettered you were to your fate)—but now's too late,
your habits, like your outfits, are threadbare & well worn