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Reginald Shepherd - Homeric Interim

Distance is money just out of reach,
a kindness like rain-laden clouds
that never drops its coins. Epochs
of fossilized trees crawl rusting hillside
strata: they smell like somewhere else
I've never been, an Anatolia
just outside the mind. Geometries
of travel and desire (from here to want
and back again), the myths of pleasure
reinvent another ancient world: oiled boys
racing naked around the circular walls
of Troy to find out who will wear
the plaited wreath, parade painted circuits
of unburnt parapets waving
to the crowds. See, even night
adores him, dresses him in its moon
and apparition. The sheen of intention
is on him, translates his motions
into marble, alabaster. (Cassandra
wakes and says There isn't going to be
a Trojan war. Centuries of fossil speech
fill up the space that comes after
currently, years spent talking
to paper.) Man and moment
become one, his reliquary skin
makes white occur (by now
the sweat has faded from his garish
details). The things his hands become
act out interruption, history
is his story, held at bay. He wears time
on his body (wears it out), chases gods
from mountaintops until the myth-smoke
clears. His old world's blurred
and hard to read, misunderstanding
becomes a place: galley
run aground on shallow skin
the color of no event.

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Poet: Reginald Shepherd
Poem: Homeric Interim
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