Harrison Shepherd had been eagerly named. His parents had imagined him as priestly famed, A vicar of the church, a shepherd of the flock; But, Harrison worked barges early at the dock. The Good Shepherd had set fire to the neighbours shed, His father raised a knife, and told him he was dead! So he was not destined, to live by Jesus’ tome, His parents abandoned him, to a wayward home. It was barrels and boxes set his heart afire, Not lofty incantations of the holy spire. A pack a day, a drink at night would set him right; In alleyways he’d stumble for a prick to fight. Once his barge held elephants destined for the Zoo, And Rhine-bound film crews, he’d entertained them too. Harry had no children, he always worked alone, No lover’s kiss to greet him with- in a welcome home. Harry cast legges wide, at a nightly brothel, Mad with death stink and drink, he began to throttle, He thought it were a game when her neck snapped in pain, So she lay there still as wood, blood ran from a vein. ~ At ninety four Harry’s un- forgiven evil, had served him time-life in the prison of the Devil, Life he got, life he lost, he never knew the cost, Clawing at his skull his De- mentia like a frost. Shuffling a walker and skin- sack of old dried bone, Harrison walked the lane all shot with cortisone, His catheter was swinging with his sea-boat sway, His nurse had been asleep and he’d stolen away. The snow was thick around his shoeless sockless feet, Dark memory allowed him only to retreat, To the cracked and broken House of God to see, Harrison’s pulpit built, quote, “’specially for thee.” The wind tore at his clothing, cutting at his neck, The ruined halls lay silent, calling him to check. Out, it cried to him for life in grey misery, Gravestones cried as cold as death, at lost history. He’d forgotten who he was, “Wait, where do I live?” Harry was too weak to even know what to forgive; But, all he saw was blood-and- bone snap crazy necks, blue-black red-white lights, beg him to pay respects. He lay his head upon a Stone he felt the cold, crack his bones into a lost statue of grey gold, Sun pierced tears shimmered joyous, In the light to show, An elderly man, in a shrouded tomb of snow. Dementia beguiled him with- out the jury trouble, A snow-sheet fine casket in amongst the rubble, A corpse-body blackened, in nights of the ill-famed, Harrison Shepherd had been eagerly named. © Iain Sutherland, 2013.
Header by Maureen Taylor
Photo edited – From here