Shepherding Bones

(a cento of first lines from Patrick Rosal’s Boneshepherds)



Dear feverless, dear poets, dear love-


This morning,
my cousin Joseph and I both stink.
The sweat flicks from your elbows, and so
we’ve been told to shutup (don’t talk, they say.)

Fact: the shrike is a small

bird in the middle of my uncle’s yard.

Here is a sex shop
and a Bible shop;
here is a man hanging
…………………….upside down.

I’ve sat at spinets, toys, consoles and uprights, hands
……… hustle
(hand: swan-neck, deformity)
a boy who played Chopin.

Part bellow, part bel canto,
the voice
(there’s got to be a chorus);
the bottom end’s a little shallow.
whereas you searched for the
word in the sword
of the river that finally called you.

I keep leaving the people I cherish the most,
(On October 31, 1984, I hopped into a Datsun)
if only to be still
……………………….if only an hour.

Who needs to be convinced of loneliness
in murmurs?

Fact: the shrike is a



I’m not an official PoMoSco-er, but Margo is rocking these prompts so well, and this one caught me. Click here for the drill (and a link to read hers!)



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16 Responses to Shepherding Bones

  1. Loved the last line 🙂

  2. whimsygizmo says:

    It really is a stunning collection of poems.

  3. Mama Zen says:

    This is totally cool.

  4. A powerful story told – you have arranged the lines masterfully!

  5. Shawna says:

    Wow: “I keep leaving the people I cherish the most, … if only to be still … Who needs to be convinced of loneliness in murmurs?”

    Love the title.

  6. margo roby says:

    I love the title, too. There’s something about the word bones. I’m glad you decided to give this a try, de. You crafted quite a poem from your lines.

  7. Vince Gotera says:

    De, wow! That’s quite a cento. Do you know if Patrick has seen it? I think he’d be honored. Hope you’re well.

  8. M says:

    the last 3 stanzas are killer ~

  9. Shawna says:

    I love the opening. When you’re both a mother and a writer, you do wish for that “fever,” that passion. But it’s hard to find when you’re busy battling the regular kind of fever and dealing with day-to-day care-taking matters.

    “love-Mothers” … The mothers of the essence of love. That is really cool. And then “mothers this morning.” Mothering the morning; I like that.

    “you searched for the
    word in the sword
    of the river that finally called you”

    I love that.

    I’m left feeling like this is a person who has died and is having all these random thoughts and memories, not quite aware that he has died.

    But your primary point is in the closing, where you go from saying the shrike is a small bird (a bird that is small in size) to saying, in essence, that the shrike is a small-bird (a bird made of smallness). The overriding theme is that you’ve experienced greatness, you’ve created, you’ve existed, but in the end, you feel like a creature made of smallness. You have all the potential in the world to be beautiful, to fly, to sing. And yet, you’re just sitting in the middle of a yard doing nothing. You feel alone, you’ve separated from love and people, and you’ve abandoned your talent (music). You are conflicted because you are equal parts “sex shop” and “Bible shop” (the ultimate paradox. And the midst of it all, there’s a man hanging (Jesus, I presume). But you’ve flipped the cross upside-down. Somehow, your spiritual life is off-kilter. Maybe the title is about Jesus trying to shepherd you, but you feel like you’re nothing more than a skeleton.

    The bird is also the middle finger. You’ve also said “the shrike is a small fact.” And “the shrike is a small-fact colon.” You are pooping small facts. You feel inconsequential and irrelevant, going through the motions of the most basic human acts, but doing nothing of import. Also, you eat facts. Maybe not important facts, but those that you find interesting perhaps. But what good is the information if all you do with it is consume it and then release it into the toilet? 🙂

    In ’84, I was 7. Halloween. Hopping into a dot-sun. Stippled. Polka dotted. Not hole. A need poked through the sun a zillion times, like a voodoo doll. Something tragic happened that night.

    “whereas you searched for the
    word in the sword
    of the river that finally called you” … I love this. There’s scripture in this. There’s death too.

  10. Vince Gotera says:

    I’ll probably see Patrick tomorrow or Saturday at AWP. I’ll mention it to him.

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