Neil Rathmell – writer

150+ essays on literary topics


Poems, I think, are best read singly. One of the most successful poetry publishing projects in my lifetime was Poems on the Underground. Just one short poem to read on your journey and remember during your day. This page aims to be like that, one poem at a time, each taking the place of the one before, like stops on the Underground.

One Man and his Music was written on the death of the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007).

One Man and his Music

listening to Stockhausen
was like watching a mad shepherd
and two crazy dogs
driving a flock of sheep
down a hillside
like sheep
to stick together)
but when they saw
Stockhausen coming
with his crazy dogs
they panicked
and scattered
all over the hillside
look there’s one
at the top of the hill
and three more
in a huddle at the bottom
and five hesitating
halfway up
(or halfway down)
and one standing
in the middle of a stream
and another
jumping over a fence
but the crazy dogs
knew this
was where
he wanted them
(forget the old ways
he told them
the lift the fetch the drive)
and what a picture they made
on the hillside
(beauty born of panic)
and he walked away
with his crazy dogs
at his heels
leaving the startled notes
to their own devices
(panic over)
how did that happen
I wasn’t scared
were you
and now they wait for him
the mad shepherd
and try to remember
how it was when
his crazy dogs chased them
(was this how it went)
and bleating now
(why doesn’t he come)
and panicking
(he’s gone)
how it was
the first time
how their legs trembled

Next stop on the poetry line

If Kisses Grew on Trees

Previous stops

A Bee in a Bonnet
Lost in the Crowd
No Choirs of Angels
Winter Songs
Once A Mariner
This River

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