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Short Fiction
I'm Here Because I Lost My Way
by Neil Shepard

Price: $12.00
108 pages
trade paper
ISBN: 0922811385
LCCN #: 98-037132

The News

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 man-holes, what number
crack skulls on black ice-
where blood in Rorschach

puddles is anyone's guess.
What number ends this
numbness? One. Who,

falling, locks my gaze,
says, number me
among those you praise.

"'The night's alive / with fragile things consumed before sunrise. / I hunker in circles of lamplight, bound / to the visible.' These finely rendered lines point to what is central in this compelling collection: one man's many existential journeys through and among life's impermanences, and his commitment to their sensual realities. Shepard doesn't pretty up a thing, and thus his book keeps ringing true."—Stephen Dunn

"Neil Shepard's poems allow us to see through the poet's self, like a lens wiped clean of ego and excess, to the essentials of experience."—Carol Muske

"Neil Shepard's I'm Here Because I Lost My Way more than fulfills the promise of his fine first collection. He is a deft and empathic observer of human behavior and human folly, and in his engaging sequence of poems set in the Marquesas he is especially compelling, combing a Bishopian sense of observational wonder with a sure and steady mastery of free verse form. Shepard is a poet of considerable talent."—David Wojahn

"In Neil Shepard's moving and delicate new collection, nature's quietly shimmering veil resonates with those few moments of true human grace any of us are allowed. These poems are filled with the same passion and deft humor we've come to expect from all of Neil Shepard's marvelous work."—David St. John

"Neil Shepard writes essential, elegant poems. As much about recovery as loss of any kind, this work is rich with evocations and layers, a stunning interplay of language and scenes. 'The News' is one of the most breathtaking, perfect poems I've ever read."—Naomi Shihab Nye

"In 'Amusement Park: Early History of the Writer,' Neil Shepard recalls how an amusement park ride allowed him to 'see myself / along a row of funhouse mirrors … / the first poem of altered form, / myself as I was and am.' 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. 'What can't I imagine of impermanence?' he asks. In these poems; realms of loss, the self is also appearing and disappearing, vanishing even as these patient and scrupulous lyrics discover its traces."—Mark Doty

"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: the oddity and wonder of encounters with others; the consolations and disconsolations of language; the rigors of the pitiless natural world. These beautifully reticent poems, 'songs at the edge of vanishing,' elegize the waning century and sense the days to come. They exist in unknowing with a wisdom forged from the frictions and salts of lived experience."—Alice Fulton


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