Sunday, February 25, 2007

Miguel Murphy

Love Song of the Thief

I live where my shame is.
My body is an ugly excellence.

“I want to be your knife that lasts for years.”

I am loveliness the boy
I was the only
reader in the world, like you

beyond belief, I wanted to hurt
those I wanted to love me.

“I want to be your knife that lasts for years.”

When he tried to kiss me
that afternoon in the University
(all the students walking past
in slow motion)

wearing my sunglasses I turned
though not all the way:
green grass, brown tree, and close hot perfume
of his breath pursuing me:

“I want to be your knife that lasts for years.”

Where I loved was a little white, where
I slept was a little broken, where I wanted
to be was in collision with a greenness
not my own.

No Elegy

This song is of an odd
hour:   an orphan dark

where returning to the body feels
like leaving home.   The sun

is a blue sun.   All the fish
have turned to stone and I

am the only living thing.
I have not


My brother once told me
he would never be

my friend;
the wound

smelled of saltwater
for days.   I believed half this life

is spent lying.
To say

a gypsy water
ran between us

is to say, once
his hand in

a black glove
touched mine:   when I turned

I found
the moon, a white tree

in a field of green
brushing over me.   Still,

I’m not convinced
true exile

between men is only
that pure embrace

longer than a lifetime—I sang
softer than blood

no elegy.   The sea
returned nothing.   My brother

who I love
remained lost.

Dream of the Dwarf Secret

Before you go, as
in my life,
in the dream:

I am ready
to say yes, always, keep me—
Instead I open the sack

where the pages, the white leaves, should be
but aren’t—inside is the nest
of dead
black chicks:

blood-warm.   Inside
the dark mail
sack, deep asleep.   I

needed to see
what hurt was.   Never
not be with me—

you touch my hand, and puff a cigarette, and call me foxy,
then say, I’ve got to be off now

to my secret.

Miguel Murphy's poems have appeared in Willow Springs, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Hawai’i Review. His first book, A Book Called Rats, was awarded the 2002 Blue Lynx Prize from Washington State University’s Lynx House Press and will be re-printed by Eastern Washington University Press in 2007.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Richard Burgess

New Owners

The houses sit as mineral
growth in the fuzz
of a green escarpment

the iron haired have climbed
to ownership from the slope
and the dusk beamed below

waste disposal, drainage,
the falling view some of the extras
that sweeten the deal

because now everything falls away,
the silk sucking off the new monument,

standing in the living room
naked in a pile of clothes.

Richard Burgess was born in Rochester, New York and educated at The California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mairéad Byrne


The important looking men are not always the important looking men. Sometimes the important looking men are women. Sometimes the important looking men are the woman with the brown helmet of hair, head tilted attentively. Sometimes the important looking men are not the important looking men but visitors from out-of-town where they are not important either. The tortured artist is not always the tortured artist. The tortured artist is not always the guy in the thin cardigan smoking a cigarette outside the studio. That might be the electrician. The tortured artist is sometimes the small priest who stands in the corner of the salon balancing his cup of tea. Or the woman nobody sees. The lover is not always the lover. The lover can be a liar, refracting images of himself back into infinity. The lover might be this beagle, this couch, this slipper, this child who shouts out to me this morning late for school—tumbling from his father's car & again from the side-walk—Clio's Mom! Or this other child, this evening, alone, walking home, who tosses his glorious hello across Camp Street to land at my feet.


I was gloomy all through the paella & the paella was beautiful: a vision of shellfish & chicken nestled on succulent rice. It tasted as good as it looked & looked as good as it tasted & there was texture too. You could have worn this paella as an Easter bonnet in Cannes or Antibes or even somewhere singular like Madrid. But I was thinking of racism, of poverty, of American cities & public schools. I tried to talk about it but just got gloomier & made everyone else gloomy too. It was one of those glooms like a shroud: you couldn’t see beyond it. I could see a little girl crossing the street by herself. Gloom. I could see a small boy walking very slowly to school. Gloom. I could hear a teacher screeching & shaming. On & on & on & on. I could see the little kids taking it. Gloom upon gloom. I could see a bunch of white people at a meeting in a room saying what they want & how they deserve it & how they’re going to go about getting it. Are these my people? Who are my people? First I was confused & now this inarticulate yet communicable gloom. So I’m gloomy as I pick at nuts & little crunchy things that look like nuts & other crunchy things that look like banana slices. Gloomy through excellent salad with shaved cheese. Gloomy through chocolate mousse surrounded by fat blackberries & sliced strawberries: another vision & explosion of texture & taste. Gloomy when I accept from Lisa’s hand—the same hand that laid a dish of shiny black olives on the burnished orange cloth & raised still furled roses around lilies in a tall vase on a low table in the other room—in a fluted green cup, coffee. It is rich, black & very strong. And my gloom is gone.

of course

of course
     my father brought home books to us every Saturday
of course
     they were second-hand
of course
     he had 8 children to think about
of course
     he brought us to art classes in the National Art Gallery
of course
     he brought us to the Young Scientists Exhibition
of course
     he brought us to the country & all the castles & ruins & forts
of course
     he brought us to the Phoenix Park & parked in the grass & held
     the door open & said Out!
of course
     he brought us to Dollymount Strand every Christmas morning
of course
     he made trifle
of course
     he made ice-cream "wavers"
of course
     he bought small bars of chocolate & divided them in 8
of course
     he divided up the heels of sliced pans & sliced loaves & made us
     all eat a piece
of course
     he mended our schoolbags
of course
     he built bookshelves
of course
     he loaded the groceries into the cupboard
of course
     he made lists
of course
     he kept a file on each one of us with all our school reports
of course
     he took me to the theatre
of course
     I danced around so much under my small umbrella that he told
     my mother he would never take me out again
of course
     he took my sisters with him on trips to weather stations in
     remote parts of the country
of course
     he loved Irish
of course
     he went to his own church
of course
     he walked home for lunch every day, with the Irish Times
     under his arm
of course
     he never really knew his parents
of course
     his father rejected him
of course
     he was an intellectual without any pretensions
of course
     I teased him & called him Baldy
of course
     he brought us Spangles from the North
of course
     he called from the phone-box down the street & said he was
     in Malin Head
of course
     he came strolling in 10 minutes later & we all laughed our
     heads off
of course
     life stopped when the knock came to the door & we were told
     that he had drowned

Mairéad Byrne is one of the 11, no the 17, most important Irish poets (living). She has published poems. Born in Dublin in the second half of the last century, she became an American citizen in January 2006. Her ambition, achievable only by virtue of the broadest redefinition of terms, is to talk only in poetry. Her poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jeffrey Bean

Weird Meat

Foul smells started tailing me: bandages,
tub fungus, singed wig.   My clothes
went stiff, creaked like wicker.
I ran after busses.   Got fired.
The committee cited
my artificial beard.   Burnt orange juice,
sweaty prosthesis.   I took
a dance class.   They taught me to write
apologies in floor dust with my loafers.
I sought the old good smells
to no avail: cake shops closed in my face.
In the park some joker scrawled
names on each tulip in piss.

One day the smells transformed
into women I had known.   Turkey shit:
grandma Meg.   Wet pants
of the homeless: Mary, my babysitter,
wanting to know why I still slouched.
Dead snake in a barn: my first love,
Charlotte, slugging me in the chest, saying
fucked up good, didn’t you.   She didn’t stop
there. Turned into a sled
on a snowless field in my hometown.
I sat on it (her?) to watch the elbows of hills
I had loved.   Their hands underground grasped—
after what?   What did I leave down there?


Snow on earth-old
hinges slouched down
brung its hundred
deaf thumbs brung
a burnt blueness And its one
dull pronouncement
spread its mute shelves wilted the roofs
with its night-in-noon
And quiet bells all day down
Beak Street till it wilted
poor you
your lightbulb your stale soup
And brung down through
its ceaseless dumb typing ACTUAL NIGHT
And there performed night-slow
flutterdowns to the mouths of plows
which mau-maued it
into flutterless hunching heaps
And so you woke to your town overtaken
by huge bloomed dunes of blue

The Light You Left to Look For

Mail trucks shave days
up and down
till each day is bare.   Hanging
in trees: skinny light,
the light you left to look for.
You’re late
for places you won’t find.
It’s as though you left
for work, snapping your fingers,
then backtracked
for your snaps.   The mouths
of parking meters say
your body’s bald as minutes.
You search your pockets for change.

A recent graduate of the University of Alabama’s MFA program, Jeffrey Bean is the 2006-2008 Axton Fellow in Poetry at the University of Louisville. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Quarterly West, Southern Poetry Review, Willow Springs, The Laurel Review, The Eleventh Muse, Sycamore Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. He is the first place winner of the 2005 Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest for poetry and a recipient of a 2005 AWP Intro Journals Project Award.