Back to Issue Thirty-One

The Reasonably Good Shepherd


after Vasko Popa

guards the stones
scattered across the meadow.

It’s better this way, he said.

I don’t have to worry
about them wandering.

Wolves leave them alone.

And from a distance, they
still dot the field with white.

But what do you do for wool,
milk, cheese?

Oh, I milk them, he said

and the milk is thick
and cures everything

but loneliness.

He stood to leave and seemed
as surprised as we were

when his herd began
to follow him

with a sound
like distant thunder.



In the End


after Merwin

In the end, the dead did not pile up
so much as melt, given the rain
and the heat. Hairy clouds of mold
filled the fields. And on the last day,
we planted a rake handle-down
in the mud and pretended it
was a tree, hoping it might snag
one last leaf from the wind—




Michael Bazzett’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, Tin House, Copper Nickel, and The Iowa Review. He is the author of three poetry collections – You Must Remember This (winner of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry), Our Lands Are Not So Different (Horsethief, 2017), and The Interrogation (Milkweed Editions, 2017) – as well as a recently published verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh (Milkweed). The recipient of a 2017 NEA Fellowship in Poetry, he lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.

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