Featured Poet: Richard Murphy

Second Nature

The blink response confesses
as good deeds blanket

Second acts counter
but camouflage defoliates when understood

A Freudian slap in a courtroom
Denial pulled to a chin

warms until threadbare
The mind-reading sessions conspire

to tear, leak, deluge
Damning the shrink seams: useless

Caught on a meat hook,
dream often remains so;

responsibility looks for the tender loin
Fish stories end with flip-flopping

Guts suggest for two minds:
A saint walks across each stage


Seizure: 100 BC – 2015 AD

No one rules nakedly.
Myths and lies worn
for robes and vestments,
two ham distractions for shoes
permit for citizens
who remain children.

Diapers and rattles hold
to distance, and death
also seems to refuse an address.
Obedience freezes
so the indebted democrat stands
shoulder to shoulder to freedom.

The rod not spared
and threatening quiets
to graduation in the schoolyard.
Group-think tailored
for local leaders and statesmen
was woven from grade school
and television shows.

Throne for wolves,
ingsoc snares laying platitudes
alongside comradery;
then tickles with deep sheep.

Packs pounce from police stations
onto strays: dogs not kenneled
in one mirror-less attitude.

Closing in on the exile and hermit,
flash mobs and a growing consensus
suck from the air
and squeeze along borders
until the laurel refrain.


Location, Location, Location

Cash on pallets, guns
with something to prove

Lust arrived!

(Damn, smallpox didn’t invade)

Pot-hole filler peace-pipes followed

Running Water also
once called through a green valley so
in a now alien country

Casino reservation or starvation
and alcohol rub

Lame Deer sends a “good luck”
to Afghani rug-makers

Soon enough wall-to-wall

and boom enough for some
upside-down hanging around

entrails from technology blanket
the trail to the 21 Century

Without consent and the pleasure
all hours without apology ever

Tourist traps take revenge
with kitsch, knick-knacks,
and quiet resentment

From outer space
one more Enlightenment patch
on Earth


Constellation Prize

The race finishes (rats!)
for black and white and red
(for black and white and read)

all over;
suit sneakers lace
from telephone wire.

The family tree
falls into a desert.
Stones nod during a quake;

cockroaches parade.

Creep as poems might,
illiterate elite strength cheated
at the collected works
before the checkered flag
and before breath flagged.

The spectacle that bored
toward holes
swilled in the garbage,

the flamboyant monster trucks
tough on each sense esophagus.

Unable to digest

Buddha sat open
to the constellation prize.


Alas, at Last Atlas the Trailblazer

Between that boulder laughter
and the overhanging difficult brow
feet on a moving earth
expose to the day, to the night.
Irony rains onto cheeks
or stretches along a mouth.
Then the throat for iron clears,
and production lines blurt:
calibrate for possibility.
The belt or stream carries
through stations never stopping
the feeding into a hungry double-cross.
Even when the poet lifts
for a field or to a love,
imitation locks in the unexpected
buckle in mettle or damn beavers.
The pen cuts and punctuates
to unEarth earth perhaps.
However, the solidarity in stone
attracts enough for each foot to find
in the way a reason for blazing
with a chuckle, a tear.


The Impressive Implosion

The inner-life demolition experts
arrive to work early.

Shells functioning without:
Each husk ceiling without
a sluggish Angelo to paint.

The ball to bat pitches from the womb.
Bases and a place serve up
underhanded from bottoming America;

the joke at school remains detonated
while a brain and heart reverberate.

Family and friends using ice cream scoops,
marauding police gangs
wearing stunning uniform cameras,

and disciplinary institutes
that apply tourniquets to psychic wounds
to shave for drumming
growth beyond a corporate state.

From ice pick lobotomy
to empty pre-fab storage facility
where the unaware façade
doesn’t recognize the need for a resident,

the narcissus progresses.
Suns found in parental coat pockets
encourage pinning back
the wings on the city to remind

the subject and the drunken, resilient
question mark behind the eyes.


Rich MurphyRich Murphy has taught at several colleges and universities where he has directed writing programs and has taught creative and academic writing and literature. His book publication credits include, Americana (2014), winner of the Prize Americana; Voyeur (2008), winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award; and The Apple in the Monkey Tree (2007). His chapbooks include Great Grandfather (Pudding House Press), Family Secret (Finishing Line Press), Hunting and Pecking (Ahadada Books), Rescue Lines (Right Hand Pointing), Phoems for Mobile Vices (BlazeVox), and Paideia (Aldrich Press). His poems have been published widely in poetry journals in the US and abroad, including Poetry, Grand Street, Rolling Stone, Trespass, New Letters, Pank, Segue, EOAGH, and Big Bridge.

Murphy’s critical essays have been published in The International Journal of the Humanities,Journal of Ecocriticism, Imaginary Syllabus, and Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics Poetry/Literature and Culture, among others. He lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

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