These barricades can only hold for so long
                                --Michael Stipe, R.E.M.

Behind the curtains of the noisy rooms
Where people drink and dance and play
The games of love,
Where there is music, laughter, entertainment,
Parties, and hors d'oeuvres,
Where there is never a dull moment,
Behind it all, behind the gay facades,
Behind the smiling faces that describe
In exquisite details the pleasures and delights
Of daily living, the kisses, the perfumes,
The teasing eyes of luscious lovers
In sensuous positions, where there are
Mirrors on the ceilings, where numerous lights
Are seen reflected in the sparkling crystal,
Where wine is sweet, where breasts are full
And firm, where there is liquor, coffee, cakes,
Somewhere behind it all, behind the sultry lies,
Behind the phone calls answered and unanswered,
Behind sweet voices, behind tight dresses
Torn in a fit of passion, behind
The cold and self-assured fronts that
Boast of success in sex and business,
Behind the pleasantries, behind
The public statements and appearances,
The front-page news, the photographs,
The radio and television interviews, behind
All the promotional gimmicks, the silver screen,
The celluloid gods and goddesses, the talk show hosts,
Comic strips, and superheroes,
Behind the toasts of champagne and Christmas cards,
Behind the birthday gifts, and songs of love,
The everlasting love that charms the ears,
Behind the cries of patriotism, the flashy
Jewelry, leather, motorcycles, fancy cars,
Behind the mansions, swimming pools, bikinis,
Beaches and clubs, vacations and resorts...
Behind it all, if you turn off the lights,
Turn off your radio and television, if you
Hang up the phone, take off your clothes
And lie stretched out on your bed alone
And naked,
Behind it all, if you would listen to
The night and hear the sounds outside your window,
Behind it all you'll find a silence
So unbearable and peaceful that
It would fill your innards with an uneasy
Sense of pain...
Behind these barricades there is a void
So dark and vast and so very sad...
It has a silent voice, if you would listen
To its persistent call--
And if you follow it all the way without falling,
Without resistance or regret, you'll discover
Your inner smallness and insignificance
And part with all the noise of daily lies...
There is a life in death,
After destruction of all that's false and
Meaningless you gain
A strange awareness that you have feet, hands,
Ears, eyes, and nose, are alone, shake, burst
Into tears, and long to touch somebody that
Has flesh--not just a lifeless photographic
Image. And at that moment you regain
A sense of joy!

                                                   January 19, 1992
                                               --Alexander Shaumyan