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Rich Murphy

And We All Fall Down

The Big Other short-circuited blood ties
between itself and any body.
Yet cities light-up under
the estranged influence.
Siblings also long for the word exposed,
cower at father marching
in the dark between ears, and thank stars
for pockets filled with poesy.
The axis about which desire
and fear spin carries populations
upon paved language.
Tinkerers, innovators, and inventors tada
cash from the public
while a hand-basket delivers
such things as climate change.
Consumers need diets.
The gas pedal and brake
play a drum and then cymbal somewhere.
Green lures while surveillance
taps shoulders from behind.
The pleasure principle
and good conscience
leave commuters, tourists,
and the driven the billboard
and behind it, the police.
Even smiles cracked against feet droop.

Behind the Lines

Stories camouflage authenticity from the teller.
Native narratives, woven to the left and right,
shade eyes; intentions grow invisible
around tall tales. Stones for glass houses
color the aim in confessions.
An epic blends city buildings, wit, crowds.
Accidental audiences hear a harp chord
in passing or deliberations concentrate,
but the listener also yammers on
arriving closer and closer to conviction,
a home fire with a hassock.
Empathy recognizes squirming
when changing position in a chair.
Defoliation ears or quakes that move
each person from cornerstone alibis
develop empty promise for the refrain,
and ballad time germinates lush
brushes with sprites and spites.
And so the dress-up party clothes
to wait for the hunter to duck.


Credits include the 2008 Gival Press Poetry Award for my book-length manuscript “Voyeur;” a first book The Apple in the Monkey Tree; chapbooks Great Grandfather, Family Secret, Hunting and Pecking, Phoems for Mobile Vices, and Rescue Lines; poems in Rolling Stone, Poetry, Grand Street, Trespass, War Literature and Art, Tryst, The View from Here, New Letters, Pank, Segue, Big Bridge, EOAGH, Chiron Review, Borderlands, foam:e, and Confrontation; and essays in Folly Magazine, The International Journal of the Humanities, Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics Poetry / Literature and Culture, Fringe, and Journal of Ecocriticism. “Body of Evidence” was 2011finalist Eudaimonia Poetry Review Chapbook Prize, and “Crib Sheets” was 2011 finalist Teacher’s Voice Poetry Chapbook Prize. Derek Walcott has remarked for the cover of my book Voyeur: “Mr. Murphy is a very careful craftsman in his work, a patient and testing intelligence, one of those writers who knows precisely what he wants his style to achieve. His poetry is quiet but packed, carefully wrought, not surrealistically wild, and its range not limited but deliberately narrow. It takes aim.” I live in Marblehead, MA and teach writing at VCU.

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