“Lonely, Lovely” by Debra Bishop

Debra Bishop


My friend, whose name is John,
he’s not an everyman, this John,
he’s a nowhere man,
though one could say
the nowhere man is every man

John sips coffee and whisky
and says he likes to drive sixty
down dark curved country roads:
windows down, a softened radio,
an irrepressible impulse to go

But no matter how fast or far he goes,
he always ends up back at Monday.
And he’s growing old with Mondays.
He’s lost his soul to Mondays.
And there’s just no getting

John has kind brown eyes
that he closes when he plays guitar,
or thinks about things too hard,
and that happens more and more.
He never finished his college degree
or wrote all that intangible poetry,
the deepest deep down thing
inside him.

So Monday comes as it always does,
and John goes as he always must
down a long deserted road ending
in a factory and a guardhouse hut;
where through the odd hours of the night,
he guards tin foil: rolls and

From whom or what God only knows.
But in his quiet guardhouse shack
John reads Ginsberg, Whitman, and Kerouac;
and should tin foil ever fall under attack,
his last thoughts would probably be
of Roman candles madly bursting free
or some such lonely, lovely thing
that lonely, lovely hearts to themselves

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Debra Bishop: “This poem is a modernized ballad of the nowhere man, one whose dreams have never been realized, who has been economically marginalized, who is in near suicidal despair, yet still finds, if not hope, at least a kind of saving transcendence in great works of literature.”

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