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(Mid-List Press, 1993)


“Neil Shepard’s award-winning first book is an event of encouragement to me. In the low-voiced eloquence of his meditative lyrics I find no artifice, no pretension or faddishness, but instead clarity of mind and heart and honesty of technique...Moreover, in all these poems, Shepard brings us an astonishing originality of imagery, objects we had never thought of before. To read these poems is an awakening. I hope it comes to many readers.” -- Hayden Carruth


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(Paxico, Kansas)


Shooting stars in Perseus,

luminous dust of creation, 

come smoking out of the dark

and disappear as fast as we blink

back sleep. We watch from wheat fields

bits of planets exploding,

some astronomical number 

of grain ripening in the dark.


Dimmer but more constant,

a satellite glints across the galaxy. 

What speed to witness –

this man-wished thing

unbound from the earth’s slow round,

sailing across the face of suns and moons.

What speed we ourselves move at –

846 miles per hour rounding the earth,

64,000 miles per hour around the sun,

and the galaxy turns on a center

north of Hercules, spiraling

43,000 miles per hour – as we drift

in and out of sleep in Kansas,

the grain fields ripening,

crickets pulsing, no wind.

The night, still.

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