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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry for the Mind's Joy > Winning Poem: Snow Shepard
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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

None of the neighbors know,
Young man coming from the shed
Shoveling through the snow.
Shoveling through everyone’s snow
for free,
He doesn’t mind
nor does much, just connect the streets.

Silent night,
cold, raw, hollow,
Dead,
Neglected until tomorrow.

Nothing is what it should be,
too much snow, everything bends.
Bizarre blizzards are to see.
They make it hard to watch the old world end.

With everyone together,
or no one at all.
except here,
then the silence clears.

A couple, yelling, angry,
Erupting into the cold.
The young man makes himself scarce,
but still known,
keeping a masculine mind.

Intense, forgettable for the man.
They leave and he begins again.
For the third time tonight,
his silent sight.

No counting of minutes or houses,
Just contemplating, perhaps, practical spouses
One in particular.
An accidental surprise walking onto the block,
An apple of his eye.

With a man, hand in hand
taller, stronger, bolder
and a tad less confused
enjoying the snow.
The young man is not amused.

He turns his back not to be seen tonight, it will be hard to find a dream.
He finds warmth, but little comfort in his energy.

Again, another sight,
This time a group of friends.
Drinking beer, laughing in the street,
Neglecting the project the man tends.
Belligerent, this town drowns in the snow.
The young man wishes he was not shoveling the snow, but in the street
Laughing and drowning his feet.

His face now numb, not from the cold
A voice shouting,
the young man looks to the closest doors,
All closed.

Up above a kinda old man tells the young,
You can’t do a quick job if that’s what you’re thinking
Pretending it was some sort of pun,
the young man ignores and keeps on thinking.

The job is finished, ending with the richest, biggest, loudest
house on the block.

The young man returns to the shed,
Believing that his cat is dead
He has not seen her all night
During the worst snowfall of her life.

He awakes the next morning to an obvious noise,
the really old man with his snow blower.
No shower today, too much snow for friends,
the young man runs out to help the old man.

Only to be met by the up above man,
Stating to never do it again.
He could do a better job
as fast as the young can.
He wanted his whole sidewalk shoveled.
The young man left belittled, but not puzzled
and continues to shovel.

The young man, with plenty of might,
Shovels again through the now compacted snow.

The old man asks who pays him and if he was doing this last night.
The young man answers no.

Then the young man takes a long gander at his shoveled path.
More amazed than impressed, the snow shepherd has now been asked.
Though dealing with more wolves than expected,
The sheep he has herded must live their day undisturbed,
and in more ways,
Protected.

Delaware County Community College, Downingtown, PA
Faculty Contact: Dorothy von Gerbig, Adjunct Professor