Standing Upon The Sands

I cast my sinker

Deep into depths

Fishing for instructive humanity,

Fishing in a sea

Of sweat and abuse,

I spend my leisure hours,


As we all suffer together.


Never Reached


Seems in moments clearly sighted,

Far from damnable pride,

Seems I wished away my life

Wistful wishes without

a) result

b) because

I seem,

Now beneath the lens of sixty,

Less lent to fancies guide

Who fleetingly flew me

Where ill won’t usher,

Less today than yesterday,

Yesterday less than before.


Like the stunted tree,

The bonsai,

I reached out roots

To blind clay walls,

Aged and misty,

Aged beyond my wise,

Coarse beyond my hopes,

Steeps stretching past centuries

Aged and ochre

Too tall to see over or beyond.


Oh wonder killing wish of thunder

Rolling off a sleeve

While a lightning pen writes

In nights dumb darkness


Will inky storms


Soar me away

To future world’s gray praise?



Man I know can

c) become.

I know it happened before.

History need not lie!

Great men show their force of “will”

Then die (most)

Saturated with self satisfaction

Or least,

Feeling the wealth of their accomplishment

Some few, few believers

Offering wreaths at their altars.


So why not wish myself away

Into efforts beyond my reach?

Mighty efforts

Like the late great did seek.

Why not seek,

Each effort always more

Than that which came before

Seeking further reaches of the mind

Hoping walls enclosure not so coarse

It stifles my amour?



Oh but why,

I want to know,

Do efforts tumble down,

Back down to days before reach

Beneath me at a lesser steep

Leaving me wishing a way up

Or worse,

Wondering why,

Why reach,

Why climb at all

When faced with oh,

So steep a wall.


Richard Jay Shelton was born in 1946 on a navy base in Coronado, California, but has lived most of his life in Los Angeles. The six poems selected are part of three larger works titled “Carefully Chosen Words,” “Pathetic Poetics,” and “Apathetic Poetics.” His poetry has appeared in The Chaffin Journal, The Poet’s Haven, The Eclectic Muse, Pulse Literary Journal, and is forthcoming in Down in the Dirt, The Homestead Review, and Willard & Maple.

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