Experiment V

            for Kate Bush

Somewhere a door to day is opening, and she
steps through it into morning fog.
Here is an end to every dream, a room
the climbing ivy builds where green
waxes and wanes and stains
the skin. (I thought that I might
die, but not this time.)

Half the perfect world is here, although
in need of some repair. One cloud
looks like a smudged, torn map
with all the destinations blotted out, one cloud
looks like an open hand
dispensing storms. This cloud
says No.

Two steps from the water, three steps
from the shore, we throw our voices
into the muddy stream, drowned out
by past currents, current floods. Her hands
are filled with snags, night-scented stock, and wishes
gathered by the reedy river, the greedy river
that steals all song.

Night renders everything insensible,
her eyes are filled with feathers, filled
with burning bridges, burning cornfields
wuthering to wind-blown ghosts of smoke.
We take one last look at what we’ve lost
and follow her into flight,
with all the wings around us.

By the Entrance to Cordova Mall, I Sat Down and Wept

inside my overheated car, where no one
could hear. Song said I come up hard. Song said
Freddie’s dead. I overheard, heard under that
the drone of air conditioning
that wasn’t on, or wafted from the

women’s shoe department, drained the battery
that made the music play those words
into those ears. Song said Trouble
from 1972, trouble lasts
that long, and longer, sweet badass song

stuck on repeat, a desert wind
inside my paid-for car, sand drift metallic
drifting in Park. A suburban song
for sure, the parking lot
an asphalt meadow flowering

with pickup trucks and budding Bible
stickers planted on every other car. I overspoke,
leaned into beige spokes of the
steering wheel, Toyota, and cried away
the songs I’d learned

too well, I was a secret
that the hurtling-into-summer world
had kept too well. I turned
the key, I drove into the day
that didn’t know my name,

drove myself sane again,
and came up hard to the first red light.


Reginald Shepherd is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Fata Morgana (University of Pittsburgh Press). He is also the author of the essay collection Orpheus in the Bronx (University of Michigan Press) and the editor of Lyric Postmodernisms (Counterpath Press) and The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press). He lives with his partner Robert Philen, a cultural anthropologist, in Pensacola, Florida.

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