by Jim Murphy

an incandescent evening sky—
lapped waves of night that curl
down to the corner of a garden

unhinged instinctual flights
from gnat pits—riverbottoms
into depths of royal blue

nightmare of a deadly flaw
in pressure—blast-frozen red
splinters of the texas deck

last mortuary flowers—a child’s
only photograph the stale air
sickness drops to nightly prayers

stuffed cash-boxes coming open
cognac and cigars some heavy taxes
on the brain—dull conversations

genteel madness of the age—
decanting apish wit and wisdom
clean linens and burst veins

stars that burn down in the fist—
bullets in the holly bush—poison
waxy presence of red berries

reeled back from utter darkness—
figures as much written as erased
and penned into a children’s story

unerring American local sense
the world a sucking hog mire—still
lived as if it could be different

Jim Murphy teaches at the University of Montevallo, just south of Birmingham, Alabama. His chapbook, The Memphis Sun, received the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Award, and is published by Kent State University Press. His poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, The Southern Review, Triquarterly, and other journals.