Poems from Afar

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Contributor: Mark A. Murphy

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Hard to imagine
the inferiority of one mountain,

one stone set against another,
yet the garage floor

behind the pebbled yard diminishes,
perishes in the suicide

of a great uncle. Years later
in the thinness of time

our children will not fret
or remember

the insolent rut of rope
about the neck.

Chalk it up to experience,

the beguiling father who rolls
another cigarette,

weighing and imposing hate
on the living siblings

who may yet still rise in old Ohio
on beds of ice.


So we look to the amethyst
in the yard

that finds its way
into the hands of a seven year old boy.

We who are experts in pain will seek
and cut the palm

in the name of the rose
and white-hot-iron abstinence.

Once there was sunlight
on Lake Austin,

now only amethyst
stands between worldly oblivion,

the broken windows
of the cathedral, and the drunk consciousness

of adulthood. Shatter the pane
with your fist,

open your veins if you insist.
Though we are sick and far beyond

flight, a boy’s gift might yet bring
our histories together.


Once I was your 'brave Irish poet,'
pitted against butcher

and daddy-knave
who would ruin you and enslave

the poor girl and the crucified Christ.
Hard to imagine that men

would dare to dice
for His cloak under the eyes of heaven.

Now we leave our humble disguises
behind as we move

from one decade's debacle to another
in betrayal.

O, we know other pilgrims
have trod the path

where family and friends may tread.
Break bread,

drink the blood –
I'm coming with nought

but amethyst, bed-rock, immersed
in the mysteries of heaven-sent sunsets.


Too old in years, our worlds bereft,
no occasion to cry,

none to laugh.
Drink from the black carafe

as if your life depended upon it.
Spy Aidan’s stone

if you will
in the bowed but delighted

hours of a lifetime.
Once more the small hours

with Austin’s unforgettable verse,

and we die a little
in the brittle starlight of night.

So the cruel
and unyielding dead

come to steal the talismanic stone.
Listen to the lament

in this song,
hard to imagine, somewhere, we do belong.

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