How It Is: Selected Poems  (Salmon Poetry, 2018)

How It Is: Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2018)

photo © Neil Shepard

photo © Neil Shepard

Neil Shepard is an award-winning poet who has published eight books of poetry, as well as essays, book reviews, interviews, and poems in numerous literary magazines. He lives in Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at Poets House, and in the low-residency MFA writing program at Wilkes University (PA). Neil is a founding member of the jazz-poetry group POJAZZ.

Vermont Exit Ramps 2  (Green Writers Press, 2016)

Vermont Exit Ramps 2 (Green Writers Press, 2016)


How It Is: Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry)

represents a quarter-century's worth of work, gathering together poems from seven previous collections.

Vermont Exit Ramps II (Green Writers Press)

Combining a reporter’s instincts with a poet’s eyes and ears, Neil Shepard invites the reader, exit ramp by exit ramp, to wander through the surrounding ramplands, towns, and hilltop farms and to discover historical realities and imagined alternatives.


This Is How It Is (Sweetbriar, Virginia)

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.

© 2006 Neil Shepard, from This Far from the Source: Poems (Mid-List Press)


a short Excerpt from Vermont Exit Ramps II 

May 17, 2:00 p.m. Full sun, cumulus clouds

Hello black fly. Thanks for the welcome.
Now I know what Romaine Tenney cursed
and loved here on Tenney Hill Road: the sting
inside blossoming, the black bother
at the center of the eye bent on spring beauty.
Tenney knew what was coming, and it came:
the interstate that brought the commerce in,
and with it, the quick-buck with its quick
made and quick-fading values. It didn’t
value Tenney’s enterprise on a hill farm
that was collapsing around him. He lived
in the mud-room ell of his old family home…

© Neil Shepard, from Vermont Exit Ramps II (Green Writers Press/Sun Dog Poetry)


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