Kicking Stones Barefoot (Murray Shugars)

November 24, 2008

The only way to climb that hill
they used to call Parnassus
is to keep walking.  You can see
the vanishing peak, the receding summit,
and you will never reach it.
No one has ever reached the top,
not even Jesus.

Some call that walk
the practice of poetry.
Some call it a broke-back
pain in the ass.

Whatever they call it,
those who walk it know shit
from shineola.  They know the names
they call themselves.  They pick fights
and scabs.  They pick nits
and knit pictures.

You will see me there sitting on a stone
smoother than a devil’s egg.
I will be strumming a stringless guitar.
A buxom and headless mannequin
will sing my heedless songs.

You will see me waltzing
mockingbirds and tree frogs.

You will tote a leather bag
for all your wrinkled shadows
and study every stone
to find your mother’s maiden name.
You will learn to master
the five-card-stud mazurka
and the three dog’s of mercy.

When you discover a bent feather
is all that remains
of the hand-fast love-clutch,
you will offer your wife
a bouquet of frozen roses.
There is an assurance and fearlessness to Murray Shugars’s poems which I greatly admire. They are worth their weight in conjones. Fortunately, he reads with equal weight. If you’d like to hear this and other poems read by Murray, Smartish Pace just hosted a reading for Murray which online at

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