Two Poems by Jim Murphy


It’s in the pedal-steel, the press
where your hands lift my battered
Martin into tune—there, where you
have planted root and taken wing.

It’s in the mortise, in the joint—
the body of this hand-hewed
wood and white, wide-open sky
that circle us with questions.

But no one needs an answer
in the moment you can fly. No one
needs an explanation in the face
as rippled daylight breaks.

And this—the only sound is light
as feather-brushes, blanketed in stars,
undraped over me—my body
borne hard by yours to catch

the song, the music of our building.

Supermarine Spitfire

Lobed, low wings of this,
the most beautiful killing
machine ever dreamed,
this, the somehow quaint
single-seat, Rolls-Royce
sky chariot of red murder—
you’ve lulled us so many
years later into nostalgia,
into thoughts of dire wolves
just outside the sheepfold,
the cross-hatched green
and brown fields, the keen
black eyes of loyal hounds—
as if a fairy-tale had been
drawn-out in the clouds over
England, and at the happy end,
the good king had prevailed,
as if no rusty hand had reached
to mute your engine’s rumble,
and your long declining curve
from altitude had not been
flattened utterly in time.
You’ve long settled down
in the gallery of just causes,
the vault of clean conscience,
a mere model, put together
by forgetful old men, alone,
who in your time were
children, and who believed
their ears—every barked alarm,
every bomb, and every bullet.

murphy-brick-backgroundJim Murphy is a Professor of English in Creative Writing at the University of Montevallo. His chapbook, The Memphis Sun (Kent State UP), won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Award. He is also the author of two full-length poetry collections, Heaven Overland (Kennesaw State UP) and The Uniform House (Negative Capability Press). His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Brooklyn Review, Cimarron Review, Gulf Coast, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Puerto del Sol, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly and other journals. He has also translated a chapbook of poems from Spanish, Amazonia, by Colombian American poet Juan Carlos Galeano.