The Enlightenment

Mark  A. Murphy


 


Every breath is precious. He labours,
he struggles, like a man in an iron lung,
except he welds a spade to his fist
and says nothing.
 


No protest, no murmur of disbelief,
no sound issues forth from his mouth.
One might think his lips
had been sown together


with surgical thread, so silent is he.
How many thousands of years
have brought us to this,
how many systems of thought?
 


He digs for dear life,
broken-backed, making no complaint
behind the steel barbs,
beseeching no heaven with his eyes.
 


Above the broken stone and fire
only one voice protests
with any certainty. The voice snaps
like a steel trap above the wind: Dig, you bastard, dig!


 


 


Mark A. Murphy’s poems have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Scotland, Quarterly Literary Review (Singapore), The Warwick Review (UK), Struggle (UK), Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey), Paris Atlantic Journal (France), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Litspeak (Germany), Contemporary Literary Horizons (Romania), Munyori (India), Taj Mahal Review (India), The Tampa Review (US), Del Sol Review (US), Left Curve (US), The American Dissident (US), The Stinging Fly (Eire), Crannog Magazine (Eire) and on the deaddrunkdublin website.


Mark A. Murphy was born in the UK in 1969. He studied philosophy as an under-graduate and poetry as a post-graduate. His first full length collection, Night Watch Man & Muse is pending from Salmon Poetry (Eire) early in 2012.


 


 

Sanctuary

Mark A. Murphy

 

Every night you open in me a fountain

of forbidden words,

words like love and sadness and freedom

and though none or few

(too few to make a difference)

shall listen to those troubled words,

the words must be written

lest the present should ever be forgotten.

 

While the generals celebrate

and the rulings of state empower the rich,

we are never far from the troubled lives of the poor,

or the boys in uniform, the uneasy killers –

who write their final letters home.

It is not possible to say when the war will end,

or count the dead in such a way

as to bring any comfort to the living.

 

You say, ‘get up, do not be afraid,

write your poems, my love.’

And there it is again, the struggle

to be one’s self, the customary carnage,

the struggle to speak the truth.

What man will raise his arms in defiance –

raise his head above the hole

he has spent years digging for himself?

 

Every night you free me

from the disapproval of my fellow poets

whose ancient belief in the natural order of things

condones the ‘war of all against all.’

And so we return once more to forbidden words,

words like peace and justice and brotherhood –

even these words must be written

albeit against the stream.

 

 

please see Author, Mark A. Murphy’s bio in his additional works for CWPJ and on the Author’s page.