I'm Here Because I Lost My Way

 

Mark Doty says, “The poems of I’m Here Because I Lost My Way construct a history of self in context – in memory, in love lost and love discovered, in friendship and in landscape, and in the strange new mirrors of travel. In these poems’ realms of loss, the self is also appearing and disappearing, vanishing even as these patient and scrupulous lyrics discover its traces.” and Alice Fulton notes, “From the bitter stuff of history, the filmy stuff of memory, Neil Shepard makes phoenix poems of resurrection and second chances seized. His work bears brilliant witness in a language free of polemics and rich with the sustenance of art. Few poets understand – or restore – so much.”

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Numb and number

to the number

of deaths in an hour.

 

The somber weight of data –

how many struck by stray

bullets, how many

 

land-mines, live

wires, grenades – I

understand fleetingly. How many

 

dead of carbine fire

on the L.A. freeway,

or under the Golden Arches,

 

bloodied beside the red-

nosed clown. Lumber-

ing crosstown, what number

 

fall down manholes, what number

crack skulls on black ice –

where blood in Rorshach

 

puddles is anyone’s guess.

What number ends this

numbness? One. Who,

 

falling, locks my gaze,

says, number me

among those your praise.

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