A pandemic of solitude which is silent, suffocating and like hunger

WHO has & WHO hasn’t!

There’s a pandemic that no one is talking about

That is silently flowing like slime

Among us.

It’s pervasive.

But sadly, its symptoms are easy to hide.

It knows no age

And knows no class.

It can hit you from anywhere

Even at six feet apart.

Especially at six feet apart.

Especially with enough space between us.

It creeps up on you slowly

And with every passing hour

It marshals more and more of itself into you

Building up strength.

Until one fateful night, it releases itself onto you,

Plonking all its weight on your shoulders.

Making your legs wobble

And your heart whimper.

You feel a deep pang inside your gut.

You feel a deep emptiness.

You feel a deep lonesomeness that stings your eyes.

You feel a debilitating heaviness

that seats you at the very spot you stand.

 

There’s a pandemic that no one is talking about.

It’s not new

But that’s the problem;

We thought we had it dealt with.

It’s always seemed to us better to hide it…

To not seem needy,

To not look clingy,

To not suffocate those around us,

To not make it look like

There is something wrong with us.

But that is where we were wrong

Because it’s natural.

It’s just a hunger.

It’s just like hunger

Signaling to us when we need nourishment.

But when we deny ourselves that nourishment,

That hunger kills worse than

Obesity and high blood pressure combined!

 

There’s a pandemic that no one is talking about.

Maybe WHO hasn’t certified it yet.

Maybe we just don’t know yet

How serious it can be.

You’re lucky if the pangs hit you while you’re young, youthful.

The chances of climbing

Out of its clutches are higher.

You still have the energy.

You still have the spirit.

But the older you get,

The worse your odds become.

It’s the true biological clock.

It’s a self-fulfilling cycle;

The more you hide it,

To not seem needy,

The more it boxes you in.

The more it boxes you in,

The more it convinces you to hide from others.

Until one day you get fleeced by hustling scam telemarketers in Jamaica

Just because you wanted to hear someone on the other end of the line.

 

There’s a pandemic that no one is talking about.

It’s pervasive.

But we can still protect ourselves,

And those around us,

Simply by listening to our social needs;

Listening to the hunger.

Ours and that of others.

Being open to being vulnerable.

Making it safe for others to be open.

Seeking the attention, we require.

And giving it in return.

Because there’s nothing needy

About wanting to be needed.

About being open.

It’s just nature.

There’s nothing weak about

Wanting to be seen.

To be touched.

In your heart and on your skin.

Please be needy

That you may be nourished.

 

There’s a pandemic,

Of loneliness,

That no one is talking about.

But in this modern age,

Meticulously designed to facilitate it,

It keeps flowing,

Like slime,

Beneath the burning bridges

We’ve built for our,

Haggard and fast paced daily lives.

Out of sight and out of mind.

But still as dangerous as a king cobra in the dark.

Let’s not let it strike.

 

******

[Courtesy of the author]

Link to the Italian translation

 

Mandela Matur, best known as Ade, is an Award-winning poet/author, a spoken word artist, a lyricist and an expressive arts therapist by profession.

Ade is one of the pioneers of spoken word poetry in South Sudan, his content rotates around mental health, sociopolitical issues and sensuality. He has authored 4 poetry collection books, having his debut release in 2018 with Lemonade Love and then a year later, worked on a collaboration chapbook, Passionate Elixir, with one of the South Sudanese poets. Later that year he released his most anticipated book, Stranded Lullabies that won him the Poetry Book of the Year 2019. The poetry we publish here is from Quarantine, written during the pandemic. It is all about personal mental health issues.

Ade is also co-founding member of a literary group called Kahlimat Poetry Club which played a big role in familiarizing poetry to South Sudanese and gave young poets a platform to express themselves through an art form they loved.

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