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Mark Murphy

Poems from Afar

 

I

 

Hard to imagine

the inferiority of one mountain,

 

one stone set against another,

yet the garage floor

 

behind the pebbled yard diminishes,

perishes in the suicide

 

of a great uncle. Years later

in the thinness of time

 

our children will not fret

or remember

 

the insolent rut of rope

about the neck.

 

Chalk it up to experience,

mock

the beguiling father who rolls

another cigarette,

 

weighing and imposing hate

on the living siblings

 

who may yet still rise in old Ohio

on beds of ice.

II

 

So we look to the amethyst

in the yard

 

that finds its way

into the hands of a seven year old boy.

 

We who are experts in pain will seek

and cut the palm

 

in the name of the rose

and white-hot-iron abstinence.

 

Once there was sunlight

on Lake Austin,

 

now only amethyst

stands between worldly oblivion,

 

the broken windows

of the cathedral, and the drunk consciousness

 

of adulthood. Shatter the pane

with your fist,

 

open your veins if you insist.

Though we are sick and far beyond

 

flight, a boy’s gift might yet bring

our histories together.

 

IV

 

Too old in years, our worlds bereft,

no occasion to cry,

 

none to laugh.

Drink from the black carafe

 

as if your life depended upon it.

Spy Aidan’s stone

 

if you will

in the bowed but delighted

 

hours of a lifetime.

Once more the small hours

 

chime

with Austin’s unforgettable verse,

 

and we die a little

in the brittle starlight of night.

 

So the cruel

and unyielding dead

 

come to steal the talismanic stone.

Listen to the lament

 

in this song,

hard to imagine, somewhere, we do belong.

III

 

Once I was your 'brave Irish poet,'

pitted against butcher

 

and daddy-knave

who would ruin you and enslave

 

the poor girl and the crucified Christ.

Hard to imagine that men

 

would dare to dice

for His cloak under the eyes of heaven.

 

Now we leave our humble disguises

behind as we move

 

from one decade's debacle to another

in betrayal.

 

O, we know other pilgrims

have trod the path

 

where family and friends may tread.

Break bread,

 

drink the blood –

I'm coming with nought

 

but amethyst, bed-rock, immersed

in the mysteries of heaven-sent sunsets.

Mark A. Murphy’s first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in November 2013 from Salmon Poetry (Eire). His poems have appeared in over 100 magazines around the world. He is currently looking for a publisher for his first full length play, Lenny’s Wake.