mark-a-murphy-SEPIAMark A. Murphy was born in the UK, and studied philosophy as an under-graduate and poetry as a post-graduate. Most recently his poems have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Scotland, The Warwick Review (UK), Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey), Paris Atlantic Journal (France), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Litspeak (Germany), The Tampa Review (US), Del Sol Review (US), Left Curve (US), The American Dissident (US), The Stinging Fly (Eire) and on the deaddrunkdublin website. His first full length collection, Night Watch Man & Muse is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2013.


Goldilocks Zone

Suppose, father dear, it was reasonable to assume
the presence of intelligent life on Gliese 581 g –
what would that mean for you and for me
and our nights in the garden prophesising doom?

Since radio waves only travel at the velocity of light,
a message sent from Earth would require 22 years
to reach the Gliese system, our near neighbour
of some 22 light years. A round message might

take the lifetime of a single man to come back to us,
by which time, we would most certainly be dead.
Imagine though, the exchange of telegramatic dread,
do you expect the first question of humans

would be about God? Suppose then, there are several
hundreds of billions of stars within our spiral galaxy,
and billions of galaxies within the jubilee
of the observable universe’s horizon, some inexplicable

45.7 billion light years in radius, and space is not closed
but open, giving rise to the possibility of other models,
other likelihoods. Suppose indeed, our general
prophesies are wrong, and the truth undisclosed –

where our metagalaxy is no loner, but has many sisters,
metagalaxies that form a teragalaxy, and so the mock-up
goes on ad infinitum. Sure enough, we love in close-up,
but what then, for the vista of other intellectual fevers?


Chelsea Boots

What can you tell
about a man
from the foot-ware he might sport –

his ontology, epistemology, morality,
his aesthetics,
the apotheosis of doubt, denial, death?

I can tell you, he might be a priest, clerk,
or a philosopher, a dancer,
or a bibliophile.

The insights gained are not dissimilar to reading
palms, or handwriting,
or, indeed, the windows to the soul.

What can I tell you that you don’t already know?
The last time I wore you
was in 2011, two days before the wedding.

I wore you on the train and then the ferry
to Dublin before you
let me know of my discombobulation and regret.

Yours was no ordinary ache,
but the pain of decades spent desiring
the one true union.

Then we went marching
down North Earl Street to meet James Joyce,
and there it was I felt ashamed

of my poems as I looked
in shop windows for a pair of Jesus sandals
and not, after all, a pair of all telling, all knowing,

Joycean tennis shoes.


Now We are Stars

You are wanted by the heavens.
And I am a man in need of air –
who leaves twig and branch to despair
at the hardly hidden deceit of dreams

where we meet phantoms
in the tortured ether
unable to untie the mist, or decipher
the confessions of knives and kindness.

So we live in a winter of photographs
where every page might remember
the deeds and doings of last November
when I failed to call or wish

for us upon the escaping billion stars.
I interrupt Jesus mid-speech, begetter
of your bloody libretto and score
where you find nothing now matters.

So what is left, but sad partitions
in the clouds where lovers might deliver
the heartbreaking news to each other
that love does not care for gentleness.

Love is beyond what hunted dogs
and the mysterious river
may partially recall in the never
ending flood of lives lived below the bogs.

Wake, my love, wake with the sensations
of rain tickling your neck, next year
when we think of the star, Mintaka
in the belt of Orion, we shall remain nameless

to the millions that are yet faceless
in the womb of the earth-mother,
but it is not in doubt that their
dreams will come among us to undress

the dawn where we might confess
to the sparrow-hawk and the kestrel our
rancour at the killing and the killer
that would sorrow the mother in her nest.

Why do I write you? Hardly a day passes
when I do not bolt heavens’ door
on the earth and all its sores
and all that binds the mud and ties us.

We are children now, defenceless
to all that would enslave the dour
recollection of our rapport,
but we persist as sun and moon and nebulae’s

still being born in the galaxies
beyond our making. I give you no cure,
only the long aeons of your
life without me, the sure cold of Munch’s Frieze.



A thought of your mouth overwhelmed me.
I imagine you undressing
at Cliffe High Street in an apartment

I will never see.
You ready yourself for bed,
a bed where I will never lie down with you.

Now you dream as you did years ago,
holding the keys to righteousness,
a kingdom I will never pass through again.

My heart is penitent, heavy as gold.
I imagine your cupid’s mouth smouldering
in the night. I kiss your scarlet lips.


Kyrie Eleison

‘Till death do us part’
was the vow
I made some half

century ago,
and yet, when you

that night,
I was scarcely there
to comfort you,

to see you go,
to hold you close
as you soared

from your once
mortal body.
Who was ahead

of who
in that quietest
of times?

Better to believe
I allowed you
to fly.

When your eyes
brought me
within you

for the last time,
was it to cry,
Where are you?

Be with me
my love…

or purely
to check if it was
safe, at last, to leave?