Poem, A Voyeur's Life

Updated on December 30, 2018
Mark Tulin profile image

Besides writing poems about reclusive folks, Mark enjoys exploring a wide variety of topics from valiant firefighters to ice cream vendors.

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Origins of "A Voyeur's Life"

I think most people who dwell in apartments are curious about the other tenants’ lives. What are they up to? Why are there so many people going into her apartment? If you're like me, you might give nicknames to your fellow tenants much like Eddie does in the poem. There is a danger with being nosy, however. The other tenants start making up nicknames or stories about you. I've learned over the years to mind my business. It's safer that way.

A Voyeur's Life

Eddie looks out the front window
day and night
with his two Siamese cats,
Manny and Moe by his side.

He lives a reclusive life
although fully aware
that in order to be happy
he needs to unlock his heart.

Instead, he watches the tenants
enter and leave the building,
hoping to learn about their secrets
and what the rest of the world is doing.

He has a nickname for each,
but he’d rather not tell.
He keeps his reasons
bottled up inside.

One tenant lives on the first floor
by the name of Suzie the Flirt
who wears short skirts
and has a new boyfriend
every other month.

Another one lives on the second.
His nickname is Ichabod Crane
because he’s tall and lanky
and stays out late at night
like the man of Sleepy Hollow.

Eddie tries not to be seen.
He only leaves the house to take out
the trash or go to the mailbox.
He has the front window and his cats
to keep him company.

He imagines what his life
would be like if he were one of his neighbors:
Would he have a friend,
would he have a wife,
would he be out all night like Ichabod,
or would he be as lucky as Suzie the Flirt
and have lovers left and right?

Instead, Eddie sits on his slipcovered couch,
spies on his neighbors’ lives,
and worries that one day
someone will call him a lonely old bachelor
who leads a voyeur’s life.

Questions & Answers

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      • Diane Denison profile image

        Diane Denison 

        8 weeks ago from Cincinnati Ohio

        Mark I agree with you.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        8 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Yes, I agree with you Diane. Sometimes loneliness and shyness could be character traits of a stalker. I think that this particular person is set in his ways, and just looking out the window suffices. Thank you for your insight.

      • Diane Denison profile image

        Diane Denison 

        8 weeks ago from Cincinnati Ohio

        Hello Mark I love this article.

        He is lonely. There is no reason for it but one exception he is shy. Many times Voyeur's become stalkers that can turn a persons life up side down. If he is shy he really need to go talk to a psychologist. Or get hobbies that will keep him/her busy. I am back my computer went down decided to invest in another one...

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks,Nell. Perhaps the older we get the more we sit back and watch instead of participating.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        3 months ago from England

        That was amazing and so true of many people. Not having a life of their own but watching others, nice one!

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Tim.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        It's funny, Mark. My wife loves your poetry, too. Both our spouses seem to have pretty decent taste (Well, Lori, my wife, may laugh at that some times.)

        In my counseling courses, one of the first techniques we learned was to let go of "self," to some degree, in order to perceive another person's perspective. I'm glad I'm keenly aware of my faults, limitations, and abilities now. I think that's what good writers do well.

        You couldn't reach the heart, soul and mind if you are unaware of the ones in you. The heart within would be crying for recognition by its owner. The soul would feel orphaned. The mind would always be trying to make peace between those two - which could force most people to hide and spy on others.

        That's why you are such a skilled poet. Long ago, it shows in your work, you made peace with who you are.

        Your poetry has never been judgmental, from what I've read. Even those pieces, like the one about the suit, which was tremendously personal, gives the reader just enough of the poet, allowing the reader to wear the lines on for size, without "telling" what should be happening. The reader (like myself) recalls those old clothes that has something special associated with them.

        That's why I'm a great fan of yours.

        I see the poet/therapist/man in those lines without an obscuring view of the "self" in your work. That takes living, Mark. That takes poetic insight, which you bring to your verses.

        Yes, we are voyeurs, but only briefly. We are more participant/observers/commentators.

        Keep inspiring and intriguing us with your accurate depictions of the human condition.

        Much respect and deepest admiration,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Tim. I love your take on the poet moving in and out of the world, experiencing the momentary connection then receding into himself to conceive a poem. This was what I did when I was doing therapy: experiencing people and their circumstances, then moving away to form my conceptions. By the way, your comments and opinions are so thoughtful that I often share them with my wife who is also a big fan of yours.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Astute observation, Mark. We do that often. I think writers of creative works probably spend much of their time contemplating different aspects of life. Yet, we reach out, to go further in, to reveal truths. You couldn't have touched us so masterfully without some awareness of the physical world around you - by the way, you have a keen sense of human interactions, whether inner of outwardly.

        Your lines live with precision, an accuracy born of knowing who you are and sensing and understanding human strengths and frailties. Your lines couldn't live so richly if you haven't taken the courage to live life.

        I'm only complimenting you, making an observation of the poet who I consider one of the best on HP.

        I remember reading the poem you wrote about sitting there in that church where Dr. King was - I couldn't have experienced the feeling better if I was there with you.

        Going to a record store? Another great poem. Do you know how I imagined you and I meeting at the record store to discuss who was cool this month? Not to mention, the real people you saw there, and probably spoke to on occasion.

        That takes risks to bring to paper; that takes courage to actually do; that takes living life to the fullest.

        Happy 2019, Mark.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Tim, I think the alienation factor is doubly difficult for poets. We are natural voyeurs and have a tendency to disconnect with others to get into our own thought process.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Hi, Mark,

        From what I've been gathering over the years and with the rise of nationalistic agendas throughout the world, I suspect the fear of others have driven people to speculate from a safe distance. It's easier to rant and rave on a social media site than to confront insecurities and take the challenge of dealing with a sincere human interaction.

        A person can mock, shock, and totally disrespect because their is little to no consequences from a secure location. Trying to understand Tim or Mark, for example, would require working emotions and brain power some people would rather not put to work.

        Your poem resonates with so many of us because we recognize that loneliness in the total human consciousness now.

        Good question. Wise observation.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Tim. I’m grateful to have you as a friend and a fellow poet. I wonder if there was something in the poem that triggered such a strong response. Certainly, Mister Softee didn’t do that or my bar mitzvah suit. Do you think that the behavior of voyeurism is more widespread, not just looking out the window but having a lock on our hearts, keeping people at arm’s length, and living vicariously through others? I know that was a whopper of a question, but I’m curious if anyone has thoughts on that.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Hi, Mark,

        I had to give your work another reading this morning. It's inspiring a short story now.

        I do love our poetry community. We are fortunate.

        But all of these comments strike of a compassionate and loving group. Mark, thanks for being a supportive and stabilizing member of our creative group.

        Much respect and I'm excited to see how you approach the schools of poetry.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Dana. I think we have to focus on our lives instead of the people outside of our front window. Peaceful, New Year.

      • Dana Tate profile image

        Dana Tate 

        4 months ago from LOS ANGELES

        There's so much truth in this poem it hurts. Tim, some people are so lonely and straddle the fence of being a busybody. It can be dangerous for those who become too nosy and like you, I also have learned to mind my own business.

        Happy New Year!

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Well said. Different voices, different beauty. I don’t know about you, Tim, but I’m always on the lookout for a unique and strong voice. Sometimes it’s like looking for a good show on TV. Peace in 2019.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Snakeslane is right. One of us should try to create a poem about the schools of poetry.

        Mark, I gather layers of meaning from your wondrous works. You to, Berlie, and others, too.

        In fact, I read most poems twice or more to see what I might have missed. I remember early hip-hop, which talked a lot about social issues (I'm thinking of Public Enemy here) was considered garbage. Not worth listening to, but now, hip-hop has been credited with saving the music industry (Until the arrival of Taylor Swift, anyway.) The same was true with jazz, rock'n roll, and blues, etc.

        As a person who cherishes John Ashbery, I've read how his type of poetry was also considered worthless in the beginning.

        There is a bias that says things should be done one way. But yet, the world is made up of different individuals.

        Can a person born in Canada truly understand all the details of living in the southern U.S.? Even you, my friend, Mark, a fellow American, can tell a story about the country very differently from mine out there on the West Coast?

        But can Berlie, Mar, and Tim talk about sadness, loneliness, love and commkunicate it with clarity in our own styles without falling the dictates of others? Yes, we can, and do it magnificently!

        Take me through the Canadian tundra, Berlie. Tell me those stories in your skillful hand. Let me dream on the California beaches through your surgical use of language, Mark. Tell me the stories of loneliness and despair that reminds me of my mortality.

        I'll bring y'all South on occasion.

        These are our stories, a humane tale of humanity.

        Poetry used to be defined by a tradition of snobbery and arrogance. Not anymore. (Did I mention Ashbery? By the way, Shakespeare in his day was considered "low class" and "trashy."))

        Happy New Year to all of HP's wonderful poetic voices.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Verlie, I’m already working on it. And please eavesdrop any time you like. :)

        And Tim, wonderfully said!!!

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        4 months ago from london

        Hi Mark,

        We seem to be in the company of noble guests. Happy New Year, guys/girls! Mark I see as a friend and a good man. We poets tend to be a wee-bit sensitive. They told me this many years ago.

        Anyway, I'm inspired by Chitrangada's happiness quotes and right now will only send 'good will' to my friend. It's New Year after all. Peace guys.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Exactly, we all have the freedom to see a poem the way we want and not be told how it should be interpreted. Was I invalidating your opinion? If I did, it was not my intention.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Wow, please excuse me for eavesdropping, but I'm happy to see this discussion on Poetry. Seriously intriguing, it would make a good poem.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Yes, I love reading comments from two poets which inspire, intrigue, and bring different perspectives to the table. Beauty is one of those great truisms which is in the eye of the beholder and we all view life with varying degrees of focus.

        (I could never write the sonnets you create, manatita44. Nor could I write the wonderful verses you create, Mark. I don't think you two are much into the surrealistic approach, which I enjoy in most of my poetry. But I suspect we could probably communicate similar experiences through our diversity and skilled use of the language we cherish. This is why there are so many poetic schools of thought.)

        I read somewhere that good art brings many perspectives into the creation - meaning some people may see the sun rising on a painting while others see a sunset.

        Likewise, I always wondered if people like Steven King find beauty in his horror stories - even as we find amazing beauty in the words of King Solomon, David, Shakespare, etc.

        (I read both Kings' works and often find horror sitting beside hope.)

        I bet R. L. Stein and S. King find beauty in that paycheck.

        Happy New Year! For you, Mark, and you too, manatita44!

        I look forward to being uplifted, reflecting, and intrigued by my fellow poets' great works.

        Much respect and deepest admiration "Bros,"

        Tim

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        4 months ago from london

        Correct. But the reader need not see it that way or take the same view. I do appreciate your poetic efforts but no reason I should not say how I see a particular poem, is there?

        Once again, I bid you a Happy New Year's Day. Much Peace and Joy to you and loved ones.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Good question, manatita. I would say yes. If I write about something poetically, I must have found something intriguing and beautiful in it, regardless of what the common perception is.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        4 months ago from london

        I know, Bro. Sometimes more so. Were you speaking of beauty? You have my vote. Much Love.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks, manatita. There is beauty in the lives of the neglected, the outcast, and the disenfranchised. Not just the noble, the privileged and the spiritually enlightened. Have a peaceful and productive year, friend.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        4 months ago from london

        Well. Another interesting task, or simply another take on life for the jobless, retired, or the nosey, I guess.

        Im just too busy.

        Happy New Year,

        Bro.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Yes, Tim. I agree. It is a tragicomedy. It's humorous on one level but very sad that a person's connection with the world is so limited and that there are many people who live their lives vicariously through others. But who am I to judge? Each of us has a choice. Have a great 2019 with much peace, friend. Mark

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        4 months ago from U.S.A.

        Hi, Mark,

        Reading this, I couldn't help but think about the old Jerry Senifeld episodes where they always had funny names for people. But being lonely isn't a funny matter. Some of it may be fear of rejection, but other times, people may reject the world for any number of reasons. You approached the subject with clarity and a nonjudgmental tact borne of powerful observational and poetic skills.

        I enjoyed it immensely. Well written.

        Have a happy and peaceful New Year.

        Much respect and admiration,

        Tim

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Patty.

      • pattyfloren profile image

        Patty Florence 

        4 months ago from Illinois

        Enjoyed your poem.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks, Renita. You bring up an interesting question. Do some people want to be lonely? Or is it unfortunate circumstances or our fears and not really a choice?

      • Senoritaa profile image

        Rinita Sen 

        4 months ago

        Amusing but sad. There's a definite rhythm to this free verse, and it paints quite the real picture. I sure wish no one is lonely, except those who want to. Wish you a happy new year, Mark.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        thanks, tabouche

      • aminz4 profile image

        tabouche amin 

        4 months ago from alger

        Watch a real movie. And every day a new story ..

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Yes, we are scared of getting rejected. Scared of getting too close and losing ourselves.

      • PoetikalyAnointed profile image

        PoetikalyAnointed 

        4 months ago from US

        This is true. We are scared to be ourselves and let others know us so we keep to ourselves and wonder why neighbors don't inter-fear.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        That’s true, PA. Just saw a movie on Netflix called The Neighbor. He went a little too far. You’re right, there’s a lot of alienated people who need some connection other than looking out the window. We have to be better neighbors.

      • PoetikalyAnointed profile image

        PoetikalyAnointed 

        4 months ago from US

        I dig it, Mark!

        One of the oldest running jokes told are about nosey neighbors lol! There are movies and TV shows about them or just pokes fun in a subplot.

        I'm sure some of you remember nosey Gladys from Bewitched or Steve Urkel from Family Matters lol. Sometimes it's funny but others, not so much.

        It's sad that folks can't be a village in their own community these days. Often times it's fear of being reprimanded when you show just a little bit of human kindness and.concern. Nobody wants to be met with unappreciation when the cops are called when something goes down. We need each other right now...things gotta change!

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Verlie. Thanks for the kind feedback. Have a peace-filled year. mark

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Mark, I enjoyed this so much, the poem, and the film. I love the light-hearted treatment you gave to this rather sad character. Kudos for this. It's really great to hear you read your poem.

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