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.