Loneliness and the desire for human connection could not be a more topical subject in our times with COVID-19 forcing many into isolating themselves from the world. While it is true that we are more connected now through social media, no matter how advanced tech gets and how fast our internet connection becomes, nothing will ever come close to replicating actual face-to-face human touch. Nowhere is this theme more exemplified in Carloz Piocos’ poem “Ang Pangkaraniwang Lungkot”.
The poem is read like a letter the persona wrote to the reader who plays the role of the letter’s recipient. In the first stanza, the persona laments that this might be the final letter they would send. They implore the reader to destroy the letter upon receiving and understanding its message, perhaps as a way to hide the shame the persona felt when writing their harrowingly personal thoughts and feelings.
The following stanza has the persona listing down items not too dissimilar to that of a will. The things indicated (“lukot-lukot na ulap, isang itim na balahibo ng uwak, isang pinggang may pingas sa labi, larawan ng matandang simbahan, tatlong itinuping bulaklak, at isang pares ng natuyong pakpak ng paruparo) look rather useless but it does give the reader a glimpse of what kind of person the persona is.
In the proceeding stanzas, the persona regards the typical way in which letters are written with a passive dismissiveness. Deriding them for their noticeable cliches and how the responses are always so self-centered. The persona uses this as a hypocritical segway to vent out their own frustrations of loneliness and depression and implies that the recipient had a hand in their suffering. At the end of the poem, the persona wishes the reader the best in a rather off-hand way especially given what they said before.
The choice of words suggests that they were close before, romantically involved even. The poem appears to have been written more as a way to get the reader to take pity in their situation rather than a friendly check-up. The persona really wants to have the reader back in their life and all the imagery of death and destruction (“Na naulol ang historyador sa pagbibilang ng mga lumulutang na katawan”, “Na umaalingasaw ang lamang-loob ng sementeryo kapag bilog ang buwan.”) implies that the persona will soon take their own life and is further evidenced by the wording at the beginning of the poem (“Marahil ito na ang aking huling liham.”).
The poem was very somber in its tone and especially resonates at this day and age of a global pandemic where many have not had the luxury to talk to another person in real life. This poem is a not so gentle reminder of what sheer isolation and loneliness does to someone, especially after such a traumatic event.