Mark A. Murphy is the editor of online journal, POETiCA REViEW. His poetry has appeared in over 250 magazines in print and online. He is the author of 6 full-length collections including The Ontological Constant due out in June, 2020 in a bi-lingual German/English edition from Moloko Print in Germany.
The Involuntary Side of Living
No! A woman is not property. A woman is a human being.
And as such, she cannot be held by anyone! *
Eleanor, you must wake up before the past cheats us
and the sand runs out
on your chloroform dreams.
The end of the world is only a stone throw away
and already we are lost
in the bloodline of kings.
No use to repudiate sorrow, or nuance of suspicion
the past is always within us
like the creation of the night.
The most human part of who we are is in the wood
and nails of our undoing –
thanks-given and mercy shown
beyond the sea of bones like shadows orbiting a star
or waves breaking in the open sea.
Eleanor, can you hear us through the fog of anesthesia?
Are you still dreaming
the dream other people dream?
We do not speak of what is yours, we speak with our tears
of what’s already dead –
the lover within bargaining
with the lover without,
suspending all sense of disbelief to keep the lid on the broth.
Do not give thought to the hand and glove of your despair.
We shall not speak his name
We speak with our fists of the Cause you fought all your life.
The only question that lingers
in the unforgiving air.
The rain has become a deluge. The dialectic but a ghost.
The proletariat all but fiction.
Eleanor, Eleanor… Get off your knees. The most human part
of who we are is locked
in what we do for others
between your father’s shadow – and your mother’s utter devotion
to everything but herself.
We know that the bit part
was never enough, but the silence you kept cannot save you
or your father’s memory
from phony biographers
and ill-tempered footnotes.
Here’s the room with all your prayers. Open the door and you
will find us waiting
like an expectant lover
compelled by the music of struggle in your eyes, swallows
emerging from your breasts –
waiting as if you had never left.
* From the play: Miss Marx: The Involuntary Side Effect of Living by Philip Dawkins
The sexual embrace can only be compared
with music and with prayer. –
She might’ve said, ‘choose your pleasure well,
the world is a dance of scarves,
a one-way ticket
into the twilight –
a sexual field day for the mind
where the midnight carousel seesaws to the music
He might’ve said in his seductive French accent,
‘choose between titillate
and say goodbye
to loneliness, for tonight
our bodies will taste the secrets of our undoing.’
And with that man and woman fell together –
complicit in sensation
like a blushing amaryllis,
more animated with every kiss,
every thrust of the hip, until bond and bondage
to the soul of each – grounded each in the roar
The night is running out of hours
to hide in
as the sober mind sifts the dust
thrown up by high desert winds.
And though desolation
and dust is not the whole story
of how we found you –
love alone does not break a heart
nor presume guilt where none is needed.
Once upon a time there was a king
so silly so grand –
we might hardly know he existed
save the mocking hand.
Once upon a time the days
conferring misery upon the sands.
Now the sober mind confers poise –
proof of love in place of ruination.