Sheila E. Murphy

Four Poems

Standpipe Valve

You offer to retract authority I want you to maintain. How am I again a child beyond my time? The streets require resurfacing, detours flourish. And people with the signs shuffle directives you declare are done. Someone has sent an astrological broadcast I do not begin to understand. I allow my psyche to hold still. The menace of perpetual variations on a theme means accidental or intended damages. Elect a person to embody the collective thought or drive it higher. Spell words the wrong way to reinvent a premise universally required. An unrequited impulse daunts me. Is it safe to take a step? Am I authorized to move in to unfurnished lives and shape them? Twelve semitones arranged to stilt an inclination toward equality continue to amaze. Composers not composed remand their tendencies to a mindset created for the people. Who might these be? Infinity resists us as we drive in a direction that appears mere legacy.

By morning, angels released from what we call their place, ballooning into figurative statues we implore


One of the Women Reads with her Own Hush

I take her back into that century to ride bareback and speak to no one in particular.

Had I known her, I'd have taught her surfaces descend into a deeper place, or they elude us and themselves.

Had she heard my voice we might have matched until I sprang away.

With her or without, my learning would have splayed into ironic ease.

I would have found today. I would have painted it a different shape, a blue geometry to taste.

And where would we be new, if any conversation would be plaid enough to offer reasoned sense?

Friendship is cacophony at first. It earns arrangements we might practice letting go

until amnesia pardons who we were.

Until an instrument of pure young wood began to sound the atmosphere beyond

another name, another inference, a broad leaf capturing, protecting something from the sun.


you're beautiful
no matter how
you look.


Speaking to a Saint

She has walked the mountain and absorbed the Mariposa lily, miniature wooly stars, as chuparosa and desert marigold sing to eyesight. She protects me from my guilt. The fragrance of the blooms is tidy, and her footsteps keep respectful distance from these life forms. How is water any more than forms of light responding to the seasoning and breath? All speaking leaves the trap of manners, and I listen to the story of her flight from plain brown earth. The atmosphere reveals another pathway, we divide our thoughts among assorted answers. How do living things release all living things from being fastened to an anchor point? The windows do no justice to their views. And miniature flowers cloister definitions far from what appeared another fate.

Roots imperceptible, the hue of wine perhaps, another daylight whispered in recall

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). Also in 2018, Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory. Luna Bisonte Prods released Underscore in that same year, a collaborative visual book by K.S. Ernst and Sheila E. Murphy. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). She earns her living as a professor, organizational consultant, speaker, and researcher and holds the PhD degree. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
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