Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! An Unofficial Report On Poemhunter - Poem by Michael Shepherd

‘So tell me, Michael…’
the voice is slow and measured,
that of one used to public speaking,
his words so significant that the audience
must hear every one…
James, the high-flying lecturer on
the humanities and beyond,
writes books, poems, travels, mixes
with the great and good…

‘So tell me, Michael, is there any
great poetry being written on
your website? …’

James looks me in the eye,
as one who’s used to hearing, impartially,
all the evidence, then making up
his finely balanced mind…
Inside myself, I inspect
this utterance for undertones…
a hint of patronising sneer? …

Well, thanks for asking, James, I say
(no harm in a touch of gentle irony…) ,
you have to understand -
this is the muddy, churned grass roots
of poetry – you might not even
recognise it as such –

it’s the First Aid box, the ‘where does it hurt? ’,
the surgery, the remedial therapy,
the further diagnosis required,
of poetry and the human heart;

it’s where the kid who’s made
his or her first poem,
brings it like a child’s first drawing
home to be admired…

where the first unforgettable time
the world or God has let you down;
the first time you’ve been dumped on;
the first time that a friend’s betrayed you,
or shifted their allegiance – these yelps
need to be both distanced and recorded
in some words of black and white;
wounds to have their scabs
constantly picked at; or statements
to be transcended, even, later, laughed over;

where teenagers declare their total loneliness,
threaten that uncaring world with suicide; or
dare to hint at family abuse;

or simply sketch their life as drama,
themselves at centre-stage,
the first daring thrill
of self-invention…
first explorations, line by non-sequential line,
of rock star lyrics and the rapping boast…

or, exhilarated, throw words together
in poems that - well - only look like poems…
build defensive-aggressive barriers
to claim a feistiness; and
over which to shoot at imagined enemies..

and at some point, settle in belief – or not –
that rhyme and structure are the thing
that gives poetic status to a verse..

and later, when they’re no longer centre-stage
(though some may never – or do we ever –
quite get past that point.. or merely, just learn
to hide it more…?) write poetry..

and that thrill when you’ve put
two words together for the first time
in your life, to make a new thing…
as if two words have married and brought forth a child…
and then you’re hooked on poetry…

this is the hospital for the human soul;
this is open-heart surgery before
the term was used; this is where
we show a lifetime’s films
from our internal camera; learn
to no longer pick our scars in the vain hope
that new scar tissue will perform miracles…

this is where we meet the world
as if for the first time; where we discover wonder;
discover words that previously were imprisoned, even dead,
in books of scripture – forgiveness and compassion,
mercy, justice, grace…begin to live
as human beings should live,
in the fullness of ourselves..

and, as the mind reveals itself as servant,
brings unsuspected skills, until one day
we say with tentative pride, to our best friend,
I don’t just write poetry, I feel that I’m a poet..
and laugh a little at our daring to declare
ourselves as shoulder to shoulder with the great…

So, James, I say straight-faced (it’s up to him
to see the irony in this…) I doubt
there’s much to detain you in this Poemhunter…
but you might glance at it, sometime…


Comments about ! An Unofficial Report On Poemhunter by Michael Shepherd

  • (7/7/2007 3:40:00 AM)

    It's been ages since I've looked in on my Prospero, but when I read your words, tis as if I've never been away - which in truth I've not, just busy with others more pressing at the moment than your good self - sadly. Engrossing, skillful, honest, good humoured. What can I say? Again you tell us what we already know and say it a million times better than we ever could and so we all nod our heads and sigh, like pooh bear. And feel all warm and runny inside. Yes, that's the way it is. That's the way it is. I'll have to print this one. love, Allie xxxx (Report) Reply

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  • (7/5/2007 7:27:00 AM)

    Straight to the heart of the matter, Michael, and - for me - a little humbling as my poetry moves into new and unknown domains. Thanks. Best wishes, Martin (Report) Reply

  • (6/27/2007 7:47:00 AM)

    This is so damned engaging, and sums things up perfectly; with your usual gravitas and insight. Wonderful work (and now get your tongue out of your cheek) . t xxx (Report) Reply

  • (6/24/2007 7:04:00 AM)

    Ah! the art of reasoned argument.
    Excellent.
    Kind regards,
    Margery.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/24/2007 5:12:00 AM)

    And no doubt 1077 of the above mentioned poems are yours then Michael? lol and not to mention the other ten zillion efforts at being poetic by the wacky pacers such as Alan and Old as the crassy hills, oh and dervish the hassler! lol James must be a REAL poet then? Smiling at you, the real Aciiiiiiiiiid Test (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poem Edited: Wednesday, March 16, 2011


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