5 Poems by Reginald Shepherd

I drift into the sound of wind how small my life must be to fit into his palm like that holly leaf blue jay feather milkweed fluff pin straw ah sycamore pod resembling scraps of light the world slips through these fingers so easily there's so much to miss the sociable bones linked up in supple rose mineral seems just under the skin I hold my palm against the Sun and don't see palm or sun don't hold anything in either hand I look up look away what's that I trip and stumble fall again find myself face down in duff a foam of fallen live oak leaves with only this life mine at times see my colors fall apart green to yellow with just one shade gone the changing tints of your sunstruck eyes if there were Sun today the prism held two minds a prison locking in the light in one of those mirrors the colors are true in one of these pictures the pigments my own the sound there is aquarelle and indigo and dripping distant water the day's habitual failure to be anything substantial today a blank like color by numbers filled in with fog that frames the lake in transient tones that's the color I mean some mist painting the shore pastel and pointless train painting the shadow between window and light today each Hugh dissolves in humid air transparency I try to grasp and then let go clear overflow of waves on gravel the mist with its single dipped brush smears itself across the canvas of the pines the pines knowing no better run together on a morning palette today the scenes dismantled that can't be dismissed I once was blind but now I see my landscape attenuate itself drowned Lake of evergreens on a morning like this with new crayons I drew a man that red valentine in the side the picture of two hands scrawling the outline where only one things missing the crayons scattering from childish fingers color me or leave me vacant eros in his striped blue shirt and plaid green shorts goes strolling through Juneau park at eight o'clock with only a hooded yellow windbreaker for protection trawling the bushes after work while tugboat scroll the dark freshwater outlook mist coming in not even from a see rain later in the evening from Lake Michigan a promise like wait till your father gets home the air is full of fog and botched seductions reluctance of early summer to arrive it's 55 degrees in June the bodies can barely be made out leaning on picnic tables under trees or set Sentinel like statues along the paths the founder corrodes quietly on his pedestal inscription effaced under go home lips touched to a public fountain for a passerby shape clouded breath into a who goes there into a friend or foe eyes catching eyes like hooks cast in a shadow tide night pouring in like water into a lock the rusted freighter lowered level to level banks on the cement canal on either side but miles from any dark you are like me you will die too but not today you in commensurate therefore the hours shine if I say to you to you I say you have not been set to music or broadcast live on the ghost radio may never be an oil painting or old masters charcoal sketch you are a concordance of person number voice and place strawberries spread through your name as if it were budding shrubs how you remind me of some spring the waters as cool and clear late rain clings to your leaves shaken by the light wind which is where you occur in grassy moonlight and you are a lily and aster white trillium or viburnum by all rights mine white star in the meadow sky the snow still arriving from its earthwards journeys here where there is no snow I dreamed the snow was you when there was snow you are my right have come to be my knight your body takes on the dimensions of sleep the shape of sleep becomes you and you fall from the sky with several flowers words spill from your mouths in waves your lips taste like the sea salt sweet trees and sees have flown away I call it loving you home is nowhere there for you a kind of dwell and welcome song after all and free of any Eden weaken name and then I said that's what it means to testify to sit in the locked dark muttering when you should be dead to the world the Meuse just shrugged and shaded his blue eyes so naturally I followed him down to his father's house by the river a converted Factory in the old industrial park somewhere to sit on the threadbare cushions eating my words and his promises safe as milk that dries the throat if I had a home he'd be that unmade bed he's my America twisted and dirty sheets my inspiration for a sleepless night no getting around that white skin he throws things out the window he should keep he collects things he should feed to the river he takes me down while there I pick them up the river always does this to me gulls squawking and the smell of paper mills upstream air crowded with the fluence like riding the bus underwater I'm spending nights in the polluted current teaching sunken bodies how to swim my feet always stay wet sometimes I leave footprints the shape of blood sometimes glass flows through broken veins and I glitter every other step refers to white men and their names the spaces in between our mine back up the bus with you nigger they're turning warehouses into condos I'm selling everything at clearance prices here's a Bronze Star for a suffering quietly like a good boy River of salt will I see my love again cold viscous water holds its course even after it's gone there will face into it and you'll never look again throw a voice and you'll hear sobbing all the way down narcissus that's my flower forced in January black guide bells echoing sluggish Eddie's who hit him first the Meuse has covered his face with his hands it's just a reflex of the historical storm that sired him something to say the Sun is beating down too hard on my pith helmet the oil slick on the rivers not my fault when are you going home what he doesn't want to see he doesn't see in the sludge that drowns the River Rats pick fights with debris he calls them all by their first names he's looking through his fingers like a fence they make good neighbors his friends make do with what they can they drink beer from sewer colored bottles in the dry streambed powdered milk of human kindness and evaporated silt they stay by the river till past sunrise crooning a lullaby to help it to sleep the words of their drinking songs are scrawled on the ceiling men a men a tackle oops Aaron a Madrigal for the millenniums end I'm counting down the days and someone else's unmade bed let these things break their hold on me the world would like to see me dead another gone black man I'm still awake you

5 thoughts on “5 Poems by Reginald Shepherd

  1. He is an amazing poet. So sorry he left us so soon. At least he left art in his wake.

  2. I cannot but admire your dedication to bringing to the attention of an even wider public poets who are less well known outside their own circles. Well done, James, this is proving to be an invaluable resource for new discoveries.

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