Shepherd’s Song

I am a modern shepherd
of a modern era,
driving a white jeep peppered
with dirt and grime, this terra
between a large flock
of whiskey warehouses, each
with a cupola, a dock
and doors swinging open with a screech,
storing within their bellies
barrels of aging firewater
like large canned jellies,
each warehouse high with hauteur
and sprawling like sheep,
settling down in valley, on hill,
to repose themselves to sleep
while I circle them all night, until
the coming of the dawn
when the workers return again
and the doors open, with a yawn
so more barrels can be put in.
Their broad white flanks
blacken with distiller’s mold
down their tin planks
and my face wrinkles, old
from guarding each hour
against lupine fire
in the dark of night, dour
while the gurgling mire
of the river’s floodplain
peeps with mocking frogs
in among that reedy lane
of narrow trees and fallen logs;
and among the bushes foxes flash
while skunks wobble here and there,
smelling worse than sour mash
in the cool, misty air,
and raccoons, like robbers, creep by
and weasels scamper and billow
as barn owls soar above, high,
alighting on a willow,
other trees whispering
while entwined in vine,
the leaves thus kiss-purring
with wind and woodbine;
a coyote chorus rising
in the shadowy vale
and a crane’s whoop surprising
above a distant dell—
and the moon, my muse,
and boredom, my mood,
both lead me with a ruse
toward a higher altitude;
a sphere of jaded thought,
a realm of imagination
so often wrought
by self-abnegation.
Did the shepherds of yesteryear
hear the same songs as I?
Or did they only hear
the hills’ lonely lullaby?

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