Sheila E. Murphy

from American Ghazals


The generosity of mistakes induces contemplative
Engagement: to form a hinge and polish it necessitates attention.

Summer has become the month of weeds as asymmetrical
As circumstance allowed free flow across otherwise circumstance.

In the culture that I know, grief accumulates into a parallel
Existence that requests not to be lived again, despite temptation.

One of the musical instruments was crafted from an empty
Gasoline can, wrinkled after sun and wind and rain and life.

A soloist at first, I failed to look for an ensemble,
Thinking inconvenience of the single or the double reeds.


Do me the favor of eliminating from your lexicon
The word space, that I might be energized to face the daylight.

Hunger eats a path out of my circumstance
Until the sky repeats itself to history.

Emergency robustness holds still before presumptive threats.
A steel guitar refurbishes suspicion where I do not walk.

A noticeable change in rock formation shifts
In answer to an angular affront to parity.

Teakettle snaps to off during the wash cycle
Of the dishwasher following the evening meal.


Alone time loaves and fishes the otherwise plain daylight
Plus evening moments in the chair a frosted pale green.

Surrender equals misperception when I use equipment
I have been assigned, protective gear contrived into designer clothing.

The basketball game on the screen comes with its own backtalk.
Someone would strike my face: I held my temper hostage.

"Hear me now": I take my time reciting what I planned to say
For decades, interfering with my wish for spontaneity.

Stampede into the foreground, in case anyone may notice
What is most germane, a measure of generosity, green shades poised.


Alto recorder limns the sense of hearing
As specific place for mental focusing.

My brother and I walk amid the intermittent wind
On Sunday afternoon, dodging light traffic and spooling words.

When a film directs the intellect to locate
A companion feeling, the body consents to being here.

I receive notice that I will receive a package
That includes the paintings of a man who concentrates.

"My life is a prayer," said the daughter
Of an aging father who had asked about routine.


I have watched the light contain only a deeper light
Infused with mist to taste improvisation.

History imposes patterned clay
From the kiln not fresh but yielded.

I speak as one seasoned by rapt attention
My prize possession, deftness in translation.

Thatched roof eludes protective fractions
Clear by observation even when redacted.

Separation frenzy traced across cold window
Leaves its mark transcending declaration.

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