Jim-Bob, Shepherd-Man, Part I

Over the next 3 weeks or so, I’ll be posting “installments” of a long poem – a pastoral elegy I’ve modeled on John Milton’s, “Lycidas.” Part I follows…

Jim-Bob, Shepherd-Man

In This Monody the Author Bewails a Learned Friend, Unfortunately Left for Dead in Distant Lands, 2014. And by Occasion Reveals the Ruin of a Defunct Tradition, Long Fallen from Grace.


Yet once more, yet
Down, crawling down on arid plains,
Parched plains where I search, I…
Search for my flock.

I cannot find my flock.
I cannot find my flock. I

In mountains while they drown
With thirst, while they search for
Deep pools I knew of once. Long ago.

Who would not feed my flock? I
Cannot find
My flock. I

Alone on ridges, moored to a mad man who
Scratches ruts in ridges down there, down
There I hear him, yes humming? Yes? Humming such
Sweet songs down

Should we stop and listen? They
Are such sweet songs. They should not
Float by, unheard
In these dry mountains, in these parched
Desert lands. I

Will listen.
I will write.

Arise then, you sister siblings, you spawn
Of nine nights of lust and leavings. Arise!

But… where have you gone? I have
Forgotten your mother’s name. I think
Though that she would not be pleased
By this, by this mess of broken harps,
With strings frayed, and by those
Unbound books smoldering so close
To propane fires – yes so close – and
Fed by pens and pages
Ripped from dictionaries. Yes,

I see “Myth” withering in the flames, like a fist
Forming over stolen rubies. And cigarettes still,
Still smoking by glasses with lip stains. Doors
Slamming shut down dark corridors
We dare not take. Foot-steps. Moonlight echoes
Falling across fountain-splashed,
Cold courtyards. Even

The woods whisper of our loss. See
How they hunch together in close conclaves
Of rattling leaves. Also

Our sheep seem so bored
By us, casting back dull,
Hollow eyes – laughing even
In dank desert caves.

They never come when I call,
Howling on my horn.

The apples are: apathetic.

I trudge through grasses that,
Yawningly, sway

… More next week…

Posted as part of Poets United weekly Poetry Pantry.

13 thoughts on “Jim-Bob, Shepherd-Man, Part I

  1. C.C. August 16, 2015 / 6:51 pm

    The repetition of “I cannot find my flock” adds a desperation to the start of this….a pleading cry almost to his search…it’s very effective.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) August 16, 2015 / 7:19 pm

    This is a wonderful piece… I get vibes of Tranströmer and Bob Dylan merged with your wonderful words here… Apart from Milton that you explained… the image of the shepherd looking for his flock is so strong. A wonderful write.


    • The Literary Doc August 17, 2015 / 3:43 am

      I love that you mention Bob Dylan. He’s always rattling around somewhere in my head… and maybe there’s a bit of “Hard Rain” here?


  3. Mary August 16, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    You have really captured the classical tone well. I will look forward to all that comes next! I admire anyone who writes a long elegy! Bravo.


  4. Sherry Blue Sky August 17, 2015 / 1:28 am

    Yes, an ambitious project which you have started off with resounding success. I like its haunting tone.


  5. Sumana Roy August 17, 2015 / 4:37 am

    the image of the shepherd calling his lost sheep and later the hollow looks of their eyes makes this pastoral beauty a haunting poem…


  6. moondustwriter August 17, 2015 / 1:46 pm

    wow what an undertaking and I must say you are handling the challenge well.


  7. Loredana Donovan August 17, 2015 / 3:37 pm

    Wow, you really did a great job emulating Milton! This takes me back to college days, studying the classics in literature classes. The pastoral imagery is so vivid and conveys loss and longing … searching for the flock of sheep. And I love the apathetic apples, what a unique verse! 🙂


  8. ZQ August 18, 2015 / 6:20 pm

    A well written piece… I look forward to the next “episode” 🙂


  9. glmeisner August 19, 2015 / 1:07 pm

    A very strong first part. The second leaves us wanting more. Good job.


  10. Loredana Donovan August 20, 2015 / 2:51 am

    Really love the classical form of this poem. Great pastoral imagery, conveying a sense of loss and yearning. Good luck on this challenge.


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