Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

Mutant - Poem by Michael Shepherd

disconcerting from the first moment. how to know
freak from mutant. what rules and if not rules, what.
freaks release the mind from proud obligations of duty.
hate, admire, destroy, venerate; easiest of all, ignore:
all these are permitted by the freak;
mutants threaten status; lessons to be learned, vain glory
to the first to claim to place, relate, pin down, tame.
but not this. where it comes from, quite uncharted yet.
not freak but mutant. that is certain. regret that this is so
diminishes us in our own image.

it lives, works, by night. invisibly. under the skin
so to speak if speak. in what speech. what brain. for when tomorrow
next week next year we speak to it, its language learned
we’ll know we knew it not yesterday even today. it speaks us
not we it. easier then to write it off as freak
but irrevocably, echo on echo, it’s mutant. gratitude
might even be in order. but not yet, not now.

for uneasiness is the nature of this thing, that lives. the easy-going
are not invited here. it’s there to bring unease. only when
we have lived with it for say a year, may, may not, reveal,
not where it comes from nor where it may be going as it passes
but perhaps a glimpse of why it is here, no more than that.
you will not like it any more than you like this. naught
is for your comfort gentles all. one day you may see
beyond it, a fleeting invitation to gratitude. one day
you may see beyond it, something like a love so great
that it’s not what you wanted to want from love.
and then it may vanish whence it came.
or perhaps become so familiar that you wonder
why it seemed a freak, a mutant, for now
forever it speaks you. poetry.

Comments about Mutant by Michael Shepherd

  • (6/23/2005 10:26:00 AM)

    This weirdie comes indirectly out of a Forum discussion here: a tribute to that 'difficult' poetry which (as with all avant-garde stuff) you're not sure whether it's worth giving time to - but turns out in the end to be unforgettable and even life-changing... (Report)Reply

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  • (6/23/2005 8:29:00 AM)

    I was a little impatient as I read this, Michael...a little like a college lecture that tells me more than I want to know. I'm guessing that is what you were aiming for...and the ending was absolutely a gem. I loved it at last, that mutant/freak. Thanks for playing with my mind.


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  • (6/23/2005 7:30:00 AM)

    This is a mysterious and haunting piece, Michael. The final stanza packs a terrific punch. (Report)Reply

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  • (6/23/2005 6:42:00 AM)

    The poem really comes together at the end, cool. (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, June 23, 2005

Poem Edited: Thursday, June 23, 2005

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