They say: murderous resting face. & I say. Everyone / is a coward. In a ring of fire. There are only fists. / & liars. I sweep a leg. Bloodsport is not. For honor. / Don’t you know my name. What will you call me /
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.”
Write a poem about the way a man / once bitten by a dog can fear all dogs /
for the rest of his life but a woman / once attacked by a man can never say /
she fears men.
While I travel the world’s / geography, history, / and virtual present, / in mind and poetry—
My husband stands under the lilac, clippers in hand, / squints up at bare twigs / among the heavy, spent blossoms.
We make the best of what we’ve got. Two tents, a flat piece of land, a nylon hammock that packs down to nearly nothing. We stuff the cooler with ice, but the week-long heat wave stretching across Vermont means we’re careful about opening it too often. One too many times, you say, and everything will go bad. The eggs will hard-boil in their carton, the fat on the bacon will start to crisp.