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Poem: Sixty

Poem: Sixty

In 2003, Shepard wrote this poem to commemorate his 60th birthday. Photo by Johnny Dark. The text of the poem follows; brackets indicate hand-written insertions into or changes to typed poem:


Sixty say the number and the mind
goes dumb with little nagging failures
like not being able to pop over barbed wire
the way you used to or swinging up
on saddle horses in one hop or
now having to crank your entire torso
one hundred eighty degrees when someone calls out
because your leathery chicken-neck has gone
way way South

Who is that calling out anyhow
who exactly is that now back there
Is that your beloved wife
your willowy [dark-haired] daughter
your skinny son
your entire tiny family heading toward you
on the run through sheets of yellow Maple leaves
and Autumn dust

There seems to be a glassy film now
between your eye and the shimmering human shapes
one blink and it all comes clear
they are the ones you recognize
from lifetimes and lifetimes
they are the ones you know and love and live among

Now it's not so bad this knowing
you've somehow reached [an] alarming number
in your head when the body still [can] imagine
[leaping] out beyond itself without respect
for calculated clocks and calendars or snapshots
of you dodging vicious livestock
rolling ass over teakettle through your teen-age years
or even piercing ideas of the whole mess breaking down
one day which it [most] certainly will but when
we can't exactly say

Right now here is all we've got
and it's just good and lucky to be in the flow
of kinship, kindness and the human friend
and not be stuck out somewhere deep like Big Bend
in some wasted Super 8 without room service [t.v.]
or a chrome hot plate
it sure is damn good and lucky

Sam Shepard
11/5/03 MN


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