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Poem & Pic of the Month: July 2015

Every month, I post one of my poems (paired with one of my pictures), sharing its origin and some of its essence. Here is my Poem & Pic of the Month for July 2015:

Together in Our Loneliness

by Patrick Bishop

The book store cafe is filled with people who sit alone,

wanting to connect as they sip Starbucks,

flipping through books they don't buy

drawn here, not just to read

They (we) clearly need to be with others,

even in their (our) loneliness

The older ones seem to know better

There is a group of women laughing and knitting

while their men scowl and play cribbage

How did this place become their social hangout?

What does it say about me that I find it odd?

The stories that fill the nearby bookcase

are as dead as the hearts of the lonely,

waiting for a kind, curious soul to pick them up

give them life

and lovingly go through their pages

reading their story

Like shelved books, the lonely sit and wait

The only clue to their saga, a non-descript cover

My heart breaks for the lonely, the unknown, the empty

The pages of their description outlining

pain, failure, not enough, unloved, suffering

They wrote their stories long, long ago

They've read the stories so many times

they've forgotten their authorship

settling for the first story that wrote itself down

believing it to be etched in stone


During my spring sabbatical, I made several trips to the Starbucks in Norton Shores (Muskegon) before heading up to Whitehall for a few days. It always struck me as interesting how many people were in the cafe at 2pm and the activites they were involved with. Quite a few folks, including myself, were there alone. That struck me as oddly ironic; many of us were there together in our loneliness. That said, there were always a couple groups of people too. They seemed to know connection was important and they didn't care where it happened.

The Picture

This was taken in the Catskill Mountains in New York during one of my Enneagram conferences (fall 2014). I know the wolf is a pack animal, but they always strike me as loners within the pack system; alone but together. It seemed to fit the theme of the poem pretty well.

© 2015 by Patrick Bishop; all rights reserved.

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