Rich Murphy


When in pockets or on wrists
little wheels with teeth
gnashed through small lives,
the sidewalks lipped up
regardless, “have a nice day.”

Then the coltan digit brought
to pitch in light speed.
Emoji and Gif poke into each cheek.
Tagging antisocial question marks
as coat racks for the street,
the command threatens to punish
insightful resisters at the cash register.

With time, a commuter buys into debt
or hunts for a refrigerator box
and a subway grate.

Even in confrontation with weather,
the baseline syndrome sufferers cling
to exteriors though from around brainstems
leather sacks for rotted emotions droop.

Confetti Catcher

Always the same site
with similar pomp and circumstances.
An organ shifts beneath flutes and violins
that blanket a dark band
tweaking noise into nose.

Cornea eggs crack in socket bowls
when stirring, and a gathering
quakes on the bed refrain.
When the sight ceremony lights up,
all dreams exit through thin air.

A whole world opens for the real
while boredom fills with illusion
for strangers on the street perhaps.

The senses chase after stomach butterflies
with a cup for coffee and a spoon.
The excitement wishes by as the moment
escapes, but the effort fills up
and spills all over the nervous system.

Soon a traffic jam will spread on
concentration without absorbing
a small part in the procession.

Rich Murphy’s poetry collections have won two national book awards: Gival Press Poetry Prize 2008 for Voyeur and in 2013 the Press Americana Poetry Prize for Americana. Asylum Seeker is the third in a trilogy out now (2018) Press Americana. First in the trilogy was Americana, Body Politic, the second, published by Prolific Press in January 2017. Murphy’s first book The Apple in the Monkey Tree was published in 2007 by Codhill Press. Chapbooks include Great Grandfather (Pudding House Press), Family Secret (Finishing Line Press), Hunting and Pecking (Ahadada Books), Phoems for Mobile Vices (BlazeVox) and Paideia (Aldrich Press). His sixth book-length collection of poems, Practitioner Joy, will be published in 2020 by Wipf and Stock.

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