How It Is: Selected Poems represents a quarter-century's worth of work, gathering together poems from seven previous collections.


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THIS IS HOW IT IS (SWEETBRIAR, VA)

I’m old enough to know this daylight 
savings time’s a ruse, yet I’m out here
near sundown, haunting one more hour
of light, inhaling flowers like there’s no
tomorrow: lilacs, especially lilacs,
that incarnate bait: open your mouth,
waft this in, now tell me you don’t want a body.
And there’s more where that came from: bleeding
heart, marsh marigold, blossom of plum and persimmon,
all floating in spring ether. I’m out here, suckered
by spring and this heart—what to do but smother it
in flowers, daylight savings flowers that come
long before the first gold hues of leaves,
longer still before inexorable green
spoils my mood. Green says I’m growing
old and mute as moss. In April rain, May
swell, June fulcrum, July slide, August dust,
I hear it. And September, September’s leaves
hang like dog-eared pages I’d rather not read
again. Oh, for October where together we tear
to shreds those stories of second comings, watch
them fall down around us. The older I grow,
the closer in age to god, who is timeless.
Soon I’ll be going home. Today, I’m burying my face
in flowers, trying to smell from the living side
what it’ll be like when I’m swimming
in flowers, and I don’t smell a thing.





neil.shepard@jsc.edu

NEIL SHEPARD