Reginald Shepherd

April 10, 1963 – September 10, 2008 / New York City

If Orpheus Were Honest With Her

Today I am afraid of ghosts, the things

I searched for in you, sang of you.

Shining hazard, roundabout,

piece of myself you’ve never seen: never

your somewhat puzzled self, combing out

your westering hair, shaking your head

at something you’ve just read.

(Days and nights I spent as

contradiction, tattered flag

which now goes by your name.)

I look back or don’t look back,

I can’t remember now

how I will write it down, or come

to think such words were mine.

The poems that ratified your loss

would have been self portraits

stripped of all defense. (There you are

pinned to the lyric distance, small

point of reference I call love.) I’d stare

into your eyes, fall somewhere

in between, while you

faded further into someone else’s

underworld, a flickering affliction

the color of a muse.
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