Bret Shepard


Observe walls: percussed voices
in every room of the house

and bodies like trees. The rooms
whisper that we are fields of skin.

It's all they ever whisper to us.

The mouth of a house
carved into the ceiling of a house

reveals many things—
we breathe animal into animal.



Hands to map the body—
its landscape, its scarce setting.

Here a valley of freckles, starved.
Here a dimpled rash in morning.

The inability of bodies to respond

to an ecology: touch betrays touch
betrays how we replenish.

Sometimes one of us moves

the other. I've seen a magnet that
resembles the shape of your hand.



Even left alone, the body tastes
what the earth feels—

the ontology of an economy
turned self.

Our investment is not defined

as the rain into the ground, the ground
as currency. Not hands.

Not tongues. Not stillness of eyes.
It's none of these things.



The neighborhood consumed something
of our house. Then our house

consumed everything itself.
Throughout night and into morning

we buried our bodies

under fabric, escaping
to the blurred horizon

beyond yards and fences.
We already have no map to guide us back.          


"Skin Interims" saw an early draft during a road trip I took last year. I was eating pizza and watching an episode of The Rockford Files in a Wyoming hotel, the kind where people also live full-time. The poem was then further written while taking the bus from the Marina in San Francisco to AT&T park.