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Poetry by Mark Murphy 

Mark lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK.




© 2004  Mark Murphy






We are the public statues, stirring, stirring

                      in the town squares at night.

We are private beings, moving, moving

                      through this public space.


We are strangers in the head, clutching, clutching

                      at our ribboned hats.

We are Ikatha's wings, moving, moving

                      in the scattered breeze.


We are the Bronte sisters, dreaming, dreaming

                      of dying, always dying.

We are Anne, Emily and Charlotte, moving, moving

                      through the graveyard of our father's ministry.


We are the bronchial children, playing, playing

                      in the grounds of the Parsonage.

We are the breathing ghosts, moving, moving,

                      breathing and moving in the dark.


We are the human creature, crying, crying,

                      treading the boards thin.

We are Balzac's cloak, moving, moving

                      unceasingly in the night wind.







If I could win you with words

I would write, "Come and lie naked with me.

Oh, come and lie naked with me."


And you would give yourself

without hesitation in the lacerated city

of my nearly ruined dreams.


Alas, we do not live by the rules

of happy circumstance. The real story,

sad though it is, unfolds like this:


if I told you in the encroaching darkness

how much the night derides me,

you would only turn your back


and keep the moonlight for yourself.

If I told you that I held my hand

in the flame for you, I know


you would not believe me.

If I told you that I cut myself

in the dark cellars of self-knowing


for all the saints and martyrs

but most of all, for you,

I know you would only shrink back


and think me mad. If I told you

that I had stolen these seconds

from the silence that lies between us


to tell you, you are more beautiful

today than I ever imagined,

you would only recoil and say,


"You cannot win me with words."






Mirror, Mirror


after the pencil drawing by Laurie Lipton



I take it as the final insult, the final hurt

in a life made up of little else.

I was an ideal woman once, the kind

of woman you only dreamed existed;

and so skinny in fact, so unlike a woman

that men would applaud me on my boyish figure.

I was loved by men for my flat chest.

My pretty little ass. My sweet little ass.

Not a dimple in sight. I was the purest girl

at the disco, a virgin until I was 26.

God, how I was loved by men.


Now, even starlight does nothing

for my complexion. I have nothing

to show but my mother's bitter frown;

a bitter frown with which I view the world.

My breasts have become zealous balloons.

My thighs are ruined.

I look in the mirror, see

my whole tawdry past spread-eagled,

other faces, other bodies, lives assembling

like guilt at the mirror's edge.


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, oldest

and wisest of all my mirrors:

my confidant, my window on the confessional,

my window to other mirrors...

Won't you tell me what I cannot tell myself:

that it didn't matter as long

as they loved me for my lily-white thighs.

Won't you tell me

that I am still beautiful -

a beautiful coat hanger woman.





Mirrors in the kitchen.

Mirrors in the bathroom.

Mirrors in the bedrom.

Even the juxtapositioning of mirrors.

Ceiling mirrors.

Wall mirrors.

Door mirrors.

Nothing but mirrors.


This is not living.

This is mirror hell.





Diogenes Checkmates


It has been suggested by chess enthusiasts

that the game is a microcosm of world events;

(white pawn to king's knight four) that

Stale Mate is a metaphor for the east/west

debacle. (black pawn to queen four)

However, some thinkers have suggested

that the game is rather wooden, like bad tragedy

or a king's ransom, (white pawn to king's bishop

three) raising the point, who's fooling who

if all are equally baffled? (black queen

to rook five -- fool's mate)








All poems are copyrighted property of Mark Murphy.



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