Congeal. Draw ions into place, into something recognizable. Copy eyebrows from newscasters, bus driver jaw lines, mirror shoulder widths from headline tabloid photos, the you’d-never-guess-whose-beach-body midriffs. Anything that prompts, I know you from somewhere, have we met? Any opportunity to reply, Perhaps you do, perhaps we have.

Camouflage. Through communication, through repetition, through snug and tailored How are Yous. Learn brief silences and chart ingrained impulses. Find the proper purpose of speaking, which is to keep from speaking further. Learn this skill exceptionally well. Lose track of one another. Forget the words companion, communion.  Wake daily to two new truths: I. Abandoned.

Congregate. In quiet taverns. Saloons. Perform the perfected shoulder hunch in hotel lobby piano bars. Listen to the siren serenade to vinegar-soaked flies. Leave two spaces between stools. Nod down and away, never up and over. Buy one a round. Accept a round when a round is returned. Move closer. Grin, bob, release a hup-hup from underneath the sternum, feign interest in what condensation can do to faux oak. Acknowledge one when one says, Not much of a talker, are you? Shrug horizontally. Say, More of a doer. Finger up. Rotate the wrist. Open the throat. Linger every handshake.   

Composure. Eventually, someone will know, will say, Sometimes people are just a little too people

Commute. Read newspapers about oddities, about autopsies, about those whose structures are found incomplete, about granular bones compared to a dense equivalence of fungi, of something breathing, of something feeding. Go. Do not define duty or mourning. Find the residence, the landlord, the postal carrier. Do not ask after memories but of confidants. Learn of the absolute solitude, say, Yes, that seems like him. When asked of the level of attachment, mimic stress. Strain the limitations of the neck. Listen to the grind of sand. Do not say, We were all of one. Instead, say, It was only a matter of money. Inside, take anything that harbors zinc. A ricer, if there is one. 

Copulate. Learn how to salsa, how to Lindy Hop, but first, learn how to leave room for Jesus. Turn the radio dial between clear frequencies. Listen to meteorologists report over golden oldies and parental advisory commercials. Arms out, elbows up, left foot leads the right. Sway alone to the static. Log on to chat rooms. Write, I need to not feel so alone with myself. Suggest meeting. Suggest dancing. Meet. Dance. Under park lampposts, test the dilation time of pupils when hands are placed upon the trapezius, when moved to the latissimus dorsi. Compare against the pulse of light and shadow. Pretend the sound of gravel has nothing to do with what’s underfoot, that a language is hidden within. Say this and stall. Hope for the slow whisper of erosion behind the skin. Decline the private invitation elsewhere, to somewhere soilless. Show a widower’s ring. Apologize. Apologize to the trees, to the sky, to the spores, molted, neglected. Say, I haven’t gotten there yet

Cohabitate. Recognize the difference between thunder and invasion, between ozone friction and ripped atmosphere. Learn to speak the guttural of broken sound barriers, the delayed wallow of immeasurable pain. Relate. Join the lost. Forget the coalesce. Forget the conquest. Whatever landed before has now crept away. Do not ignore this solid ground, this unsettled air. This body, this growth, belongs to you. Find a mirror; memorize its face. Say, Hello. How are you


About the Author: Timston Johnston sometimes tweets candy bar reviews @TimstonJohnston, and thanks to the Internet for inventing the Internet, you can also Google him.

Story Songs: "Personality" by Lloyd Price & "I Don't Want To Be Alone" by Eagle Eye Williamson.