(T)ravel/Un(t)ravel: “Through luscious dislocations of time and space, Shepard turns roving into an art and creates art from the sensuous apprehension that only a being in motion can give. Not only does the poet roam the world, he roams in time, making literature itself his landscape.” (Molly Peacock)


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(T)RAVEL/UN(T)RAVEL

You’ve met them, travelers half-
returned from afar, curled on a couch, comfortable,

uncomfortable, worrying gifts from elsewhere –
a tattooed cow skull, a friend’s gamelan inlaid with bone

and pearl, a chipped tiki from a tohua.
You’ve seen them unravel as the other world

spins into view. Perhaps you’ve felt the vertigo, too –

the pig’s throat slit, spit dripped in a kava bowl,
maggots in a plate of noodles, squid’s eye

stabbed with a heke stick, its inky signature
floating across the coral reef –

How well you know the abrupt dislocation of matter –
firewalkers in Fiji, blue glaciers in Norway.

Eyes squinting in Tahitian sun,
wide open over Mongolian grassland,

your gaze the rose windows at Chartres,
the glazed mosaics of the Alhambra,

your ear the growing comprehension
of Shanghai slang, flamenco shout, Marquesan pig-grunt,

your hand gesturing toward the street, the sea, the rim
of horizon, a white flash of surrender... 




neil.shepard@jsc.edu

NEIL SHEPARD