Neil Shepard

Under the Radar

I’m so low on the priority list
I’m almost trackless.
I don’t use stealth.
I don’t scramble my signals.
I don’t have a double-message.
I’m simply living off the grid,
mucking up the markets, gifting
whatever I make to anyone
with a private grudge against
business as usual, a private
ache for the anarchist heart.
Is that life enough? That’s
a question each answers
alone. I like it here on the edge
of empire. The sun
seems to move from one
horizon to the other
where it rests and shines.
I’d like to move like that –
radiant and removed,
lit with an inner privacy
that sometimes hides
under a bushel,
sometimes shines
outward as a green
ray at sunset,
sometimes bursts
in auroras that
erase all earth’s

Date with Kore

On the dining table, she served
herself up: two hands stretched
to the ceiling as she circled
her hips above me.
Then she pressed
her palms straight up
and became part caryatid,
part walnut tree, holding up
the vaulted sky. My eye
was on the intertwining thing
that shook and rooted her.
I wanted the secret of that
gyration, abandon, as
disciplined as a plinth,
a pulley and lever that could
move the world, when she
wanted, or hold it at rest.

Neil Shepard’s eighth book, How It Is: Selected Poems, was published in 2018 by Salmon Poetry (Ireland). His sixth and seventh books of poetry were published in 2015: Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry), and a full collection of poems and photographs, Vermont Exit Ramps II, (Green Writers Press, Vermont). His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, among them Harvard Review, New England Review, Paris Review, Southern Review, and Sewanee Review, as well as online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute, The Frost Place, and Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center; he also founded the literary magazine Green Mountains Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter-century. He taught for many years in the BFA writing program at Johnson State College (VT) and in the MFA writing program at Wilkes University (PA). He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at Poets House.