Local Knowledge


Richard Shelton

on December nights
when the rain we needed months ago
is still far off and the wind
gropes through the desert
in search of any tree to hold it
those who live here all year round
listen to the irresistible
voice of loneliness
and want only to be left alone
local knowledge is to live in a place
and know the place
however barren
some kinds of damage
provide their own defense
and we who stay in the ruins
are secure against enemies and friends
if you should see one of us
in the distance as your caravan passes
and if he is ragged and gesturing
do not be mistaken
he is not gesturing for rescue
he is shouting go away

From Selected Poems 1969 - 1981 by Richard Shelton, © 1982 Richard Shelton. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Back to the Introduction

Back to Day 1

Back to Day 2

Back to Day 3

Back to Day 7

Back to Day 18