A Man Scratching Lottery Tickets on the Street Corner; Bad Sonnet; Pub

Poetry by Jonathan Bishop

A Man Scratching Lottery Tickets on the Street Corner

A man stands in front
of the corner liquor store,
holds tickets in his hands,
scratching away, scratching,
as pedestrians walk by,
pay him no mind.

He takes off the silvery coating,
reveals the numbers underneath,
shuts his eyes for a moment,
and breathes.


He surrenders them to the goddamn wind.

They swerve into the clouds,
like lost birds,
and he enters the crowd again,
shuffling back to work
from lunch.

Bad Sonnet 

I can try to write a sonnet
to tell you how I feel—
to fill it with evocative descriptions
of your hair,
your eyes, your smile;
to make you swoon—
but I know I’ll be bad at it.

I’ll just ask you
to take my hand
and sing to me
in the dark
so I don’t feel alone.   


They told me I’d be a king
if I worked hard in school.

But I’m okay
with where I am.

I’m glad I
gave up the throne.

While all you people
listen to whirring computers
and stare
out of the windows
like fish in an aquarium,

I’m clinking glasses
and slugging beers
fresh out of the tap
with the best storytellers
on the planet.

Jack wants to tell us
about the time
he survived a plane crash,
so I order another round.