Sheila E. Murphy


Look at the wood painted blue
kisses on both cheeks
a rabble roused inflection
spawns delinquent splash

of glitz and same
in equal measure
stilted tones to mime
intention coiled around an absent center

never enough windows
to invent transparency
only a word unpolished,
unconfirmed, withdrawn

and still in costume
throughout the hours of daylight
turned to frost and dusk
until accentual contentment frames the rest

Clyfford Still

Why yellow here
Why blood black
I just heard breath go new
In this aroma near sparks that sustain
I dry my hands of all your paint
The scant young semaphore still faint
I blush into the woodwinds I would play
Were it not for you and death and parity


a tercet
with bare hands

hold the flute
hostage just

to retort
after retort, then

circumcise original intent
call it

do not
refer to it

at all, surmise
the present

up your
virginity or symmetry

just shut up
for once

belief system
toss it out

to lusting wolves
consistency starved

popcorn and
raw meat spoken

for by other
wolves unnamed

the violin
when least convenient

hear ye hear
me all

insurmountable neglect
at least once


fervor loosens the weave
sweet soft arms clothed
in gentle threads of wool
made white from bleach

the land in parallel
achieves a peace
and many nights concede
to the intelligence

of leitmotif made thin
as ice yet warm
the small lane near
a pasture wide

and lavished with
inflection that means
avenues are poised
toward destinations combed

Sheila E. Murphy is an American poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. Her book titled Reporting Live from You Know Where, won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland). Murphy is also the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Murphy is known for working in forms including such as the ghazal, haibun, and pantoum in her individual writing. As an active collaborator, she has worked with numerous writers in long poems spanning multiple volumes. Murphy’s visual work, both individual and collaborative, is shown in galleries and in private collections. Initially educated in instrumental and vocal music, Murphy is associated with music in poetry. She earns her living as an organizational consultant, speaker, and researcher and holds the PhD degree. She has lived in Phoenix, Arizona throughout her adult life.
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