top of page

Breath & Shadow

Spring 2016 - Vol. 13, Issue 2

"Mutability" and "New Mexico"

written by

Mark A. Murphy



What is she doing out here in the suburbs, so far

from her woodland home, surveying the yard next door?

Perhaps she hungers for worldly things,

human yards paved with gold?


Oh, we know, she is no magpie, and still

the nude silver-birch loves her kind

as we love them both in their kindnesses.

Our tree a constant friend through seasons thick and thin.


The wood pigeon a one-time visitor to these parts

where man covets man

in the long struggle of the flesh

for goods and power over his neighbour.


What shall we call her this early morning, perched

as she is in our favourite silver birch,

quite remarkable in her winter finery, feathers plumed

against the cold?


Some names are forgotten in time, some deeds good and bad

pass us by, but the simple act of a bird feeding

in our favourite tree, as she passes by,

is just enough to make the morning worthwhile.


"New Mexico"

My love is heading to the desert, seeking solace


from the world of bodies,

conurbations, towns, cities on heat.


What she will find there is beyond knowing,

she hardly speaks beyond, I love you,

which hurts beyond the telling

since her new man has arrived with guitar and gun,


as if he might coax the tree rats from their runs.

Fail once

and the world might yet forgive,

fail twice and your enemy might well come knocking.


So we hide behind the fire door, not knowing

who or what waits in hiding for us

beyond the arrest warrant

and the impending sense of doom.


Do your worst, love,

to annihilate what might bind man and wife, the truth

is hardly black or white, lacking

cohesion, go to the desert if you must.

Mark A. Murphy’s first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in November 2013 from Salmon Poetry (Eire). He is currently looking for a publisher for his first full length play, Lenny’s Wake.

bottom of page