Poem: “A Muse” by Poet Reginald Shepherd

0 Posted by - April 6, 2021 - History, Poems

Reginald Shepherd was an poet who has been widely anthologized and has appeared in four editions of The Best American Poetry.

Shepherd was born in New York City and raised in the Bronx. He graduated from Bennington College in 1988, and received MFAs from Brown University and the University of Iowa, where he attended the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. He subsequently taught at Northern Illinois University and Cornell University. In his last year at the University of Iowa, he received the “Discovery” prize from the 92nd Street Y, and his first collection, Some Are Drowning (1994), was chosen by Carolyn Forché for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Award in Poetry.

Shepherd also authored A Martian Muse: Further Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (published posthumously in 2010), Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (2007) and the editor of The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (2004) and of Lyric Postmodernisms (2008).

Shepherd’s work has been widely anthologized, and has appeared in four editions of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize anthologies. He lived in Pensacola, Florida. Shepherd died on September 10, 2008.


A Muse

by Reginald Shepherd

He winds through the party like wind, one of the just
who live alone in black and white, bewildered

by the eden of his body. (You, you talk like winter
rain.) He’s the meaning of almost-morning walking home

at five A.M., the difference a night makes
turning over into day, simple birds staking claims

on no sleep. Whatever they call those particular birds.
He’s the age of sensibility at seventeen, he isn’t worth

the time of afternoon it takes to write this down.
He’s the friend that lightning makes, raking

the naked tree, thunder that waits for weeks to arrive;
he’s the certainty of torrents in September, harvest time

and powerlines down for miles. He doesn’t even know
his name. In his body he’s one with air, white as a sky

rinsed with rain. It’s cold there, it’s hard to breathe,
and drowning is somewhere to be after a month of drought.





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