Tuesday, June 30, 2015

James Murphy- Three Poems

Salute to the Hammering Bastards

The sun rises on
rooftop Sherpas
scaling peaks
hauling bundles
of shingles
fearlessly effortlessly
climbing hammering
hollering cutting and

They're never a
welcome sight
and the noise
drives the
neighborhood dogs
into a howling frenzy
but watch from the
kitchen window
and quietly applaud
the balance strength
agility and endurance
in the swampy heat
of early September.

Hours later savor
the burning beer
bubbles in the throat and
listen as the clatter fades
into quiet sunset
over the suburbs.

May the men
on the roofing gang
do the same.


Beauty school girls in the supermarket
like white wine and cigarettes,
cupcakes and hard-cooked eggs,
hummus with roasted red pepper,
bagels and cinnamon chewing gum.

One wears fishnet stockings,
the kind with the backseams
that lead the eyes along a line
from the stiletto heels
to the back of the thigh
on up to the cheeks,
while the other sports
bare, bumpy legs
and teeny sneakers.

All of this is nourishment for
the combined cosmetology
curriculum: managing manicures,
the use of thickening tonic,
corrective coloring, the cultivation
of the artistry of artificial hair,
sanitation, sterilization, and
infection control, massage for
lymphatic drainage, and lash application.


Nineteen years old
living at home
with mom and dad,

he'd head for the door.
"Where you going?"

Of course
he was going out
for a walk

maybe talk with
a cross-town

on the payphone
by the gas station
buy a pack of butts
at the drug store

amble into the alley
for a shot, a dime tap
and a game of pool

listen to the rolling
riotous clash of pins,
balls, and wood

watch the weathered
bartender's puckered
cheeks suck a marlboro
in the corner of her mouth

and ponder the probability
of being with her at the end
of the night.

It would have to be her place, right?

Instead he'd walk
over to the playground
piss on the hopscotch
break bottles on the
foursquare court
and stumble home
before the cops
showed up.

He was miserable,
maybe even diseased,
and he enjoyed it

but he really just needed
to get out of that house
for a few hours

those quiet, tense, angry
evening hours when his
father wasn't at work
and wasn't yet sleeping
                                    or dead.

Bio: Murphy lives and writes in Lakewood, Ohio.

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