Neil Shepard’s How It Is: Selected Poems gathers the greatest hits from six full-length collections by a poet who is both planted and peripatetic. Founder and helmsman for some 25 years of this journal, Shepard has long maintained one base in the landscape of the Green Mountain State’s Northeast Kingdom and one in the urbanscape of New York City.
he Popol Vuh creation myth stems from the Mayan oral tradition, and was written down in the K’iche’ language between 1554 and 1558. With its roots in deeply communicative ritual, there is great emphasis placed on the relationship between speaking and hearing, as opposed to writing and seeing—“These are the first words. This is the first speaking.”
Michell’s latest collection, The Out of Body Shop, is taut, haunted and emotionally demanding; her poems are archeological exercises: unearthing the past and spreading it in the sun to “burn/off the mold, the stink.”
In this landscape, churches seem displaced. / Half close your eyes in quiet contemplation, / look behind the convents and the crosses.
Because the day changed you. Because your sister just left / one day and made you the one who. Because you forget
We do not know what a body can do… / how when she crossed the street
Whenever the revolution breaks out / in this country, he’s ready to go, dressed / in camouflage all the way up to the visor
System of Ghosts is not an archive of spirits or dead things, but an analysis of the living. The reader is not a complacent audience waiting to be entertained, but an active traveler.
This conference room could be in any country, any town: a pale wooden podium, bright overhead lighting, an army of white-clothed tables and a carpet with loud corporate swirls. The difference is with the babies.
I Have Been a Liar
I have lied, a cowardly man,
a lover of your kind; merely in mind;
movie-making, I have spent my seasons
coming, counting time by tissue:
quivering cock, finger-clenched, crazed.
In the painting the couple stands with their hands / touching and enough apart to notice the shaggy gray dog
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