Michael Shepherd

#245 on top 500 poets

That Poem

It was a day much like any other.
Too many letters to open right now;
The phone pipped and bleeped and hissed
as it recorded too many requests
to read here, go there, answer these questions,
be interviewed;
why did you write this poem,
did you mean – ten lines
of prosaic speculation follow, about some mere
two words; wouldn’t this poem
be better without the last two lines?

please read my poems and
return the manuscript with
your extensive comments…
(the invisible PS reads ‘I’m just
as good as you, and younger, and, moreover,
more in touch’…)

the occasional face peering
over the gate; once every few weeks
a stranger boldly knocking at the door
so sure the poet would be glad
to meet a fan, unannounced,
eager to tell them what their
poetry really meant…

his fame, like some dark aura
which he would have craved, in those days
when he rose early, wrote for hours
to preserve his sanity, before he went out
to that job which made him miserable – his fame
now pressed around, demanding.

It was a day much like any other:
a poem might come, life
might flow; flow down, flow through, flow out..

Dusk and a sigh and a laying down of pen;
should today’s lines go straight into the overflowing bin,
or be returned to tomorrow, in the fresh of day -
there seemed to be something there
around coffee time that morning,
it was going somewhere…

Years later, this poem, found in his
random papers when his widow
paid her last gleaning respects to the genius
which she loved less certainly
than she loved the man –

this poem would be pounced upon,
chewed, spat out with discriminating pride
by literati – look, our idol has his feet of clay..
shall we measure his greatness by his failure
or feed our envy and our self-regard?

No. Sit here, in his chair; take up his pen;
put that poem in front of you;
be there, on that day like any other
when no sublime inspiration came;
yet, work was done, somewhere, innerly;
know that;
love poetry.

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, March 7, 2006

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Comments about That Poem by Michael Shepherd

  • Esther Leclerc (3/7/2006 8:34:00 AM)

    Fame, even success, isn't always what it's cracked up to be. It is the inner life and what flows from within for oneself and for those one cares for - - trite? true. Love this.

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  • Mary Nagy (3/7/2006 6:45:00 AM)

    Wonderful poem Michael........I love the invisible P.S.! The glimpse you've given into the life of a poet is great. The details make this! Sincerely, Mary

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  • Gina Onyemaechi (3/7/2006 6:01:00 AM)

    At first I thought this was a prequel to your 'Temporarily Pissed-Off...' number, with you at the heart of it, of course. So the unfolding was a pleasant surprise. The message, for me, is your immense love for poetry and belief in its magic. I'm with you on this.
    Hey Mikey, I've just been browsing through the forum and caught your comment on half-rhyme from about a month ago, I think. It might be cheeky of me to ask, but I'd like you to check out 'Kiss My Ass...onance! ' (by me) . I think you'll like it. But it's up to you to read it, of course.

    Warm regards and a score of 10 from Gina. (I'll have you know that I'm following Herbert Nehrlich's rule of awarding a 10 if I like a poem, and not bothering at all if I don't) . Gina.

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  • Michael Shepherd (3/7/2006 5:46:00 AM)

    Read Herbert Nehrlich's poem six away from this - it expresses much the same feeling more directly.

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  • Anna Russell (3/7/2006 5:33:00 AM)

    I really enjoyed this - haunting and imaginitive.
    Anna xxx

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