Author: Miguel Murphy

Miguel Murphy is the author of A Book Called Rats (Eastern Washington U Press). His poetry and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares, Blackbird, Rain Taxi and others.

Black Dog Cult & The Last Eucalyptus & The Garden

Black Dog Cult


Flame, what is it the limit of—

That glamorous blackening of a winter sunset
the color of raw steak

over the blossoming waves—Beauty
a strange flower, the wind scabbing darkly.

Haven’t I seen nakedness blink then vanish? And wild rising

the Santa Monica Mountains ringed now in that pale blue fire

Of erotic distance.

as if the edges of the earth are

Sharp attentions, guttering nebulae.
Night streaming—


Unseen bitch, pissing on the grass—

torching the green silence
like a urine darkness

with your personal gleam.
Let’s die

here, leaf or star
knifing the body’s warm nebula. Let’s die

with the word on our lips: Acquired Acquired

dogs of the earth

our want    our want

like a curse in the air, a shout
in love with itself—a sigh

in love with the wounded
repetitions, the mists rising

euphonic, silver, cooling the parking lots
late winter. Listen. It’s too much, our quietude
our bareness here—the stars

just flashing their little flasks of absence

the flickering

hour. For soon you’ll have to
speak with absence like a winter
sky to itself, the self to its dying

bewilderments. Human is this heated
breath rising, breath rising in the late

immortal air. For you don’t know why
but you know your blood
like a black leaf unfurling itself
hotly. You know
the constellations are cursing
feverish distances. Know into this same

Unanswering Night—
Only Body—

your last silhouette will blacken like a dog’s
music into a cult of Nothing. . .

The Last Eucalyptus

                I don’t want to be a tree, I want to be its meaning.
                          Orhan Pamuk

By daylight, the gold battalion
drinks, drinks—all eyeless. The presence

meaningfully obscured. How the leaves
rapt between shadow and movement, gleam

of what is beautiful too briefly. You were too
strange. A constellation. The braille of quick starlight

They’d appear then vanish, like a wind finishing
the care of small coins. Didn’t I long once

for the sea, its repetitive sprawl and burn? I longed
once to love you. You appeared, you appeared.
I needed to

drink your silence in at night, I needed to
struggle for your meaning, your musical body, to listen to

the stillness, while—wing, brief shore, great dare of your trillion
moonslicked stalks

you erupted softly through my sleep. When they cut you
down I felt half of myself

angry, awake at what was missing, a weight
flown, some part of you reckoning—O

signals of distance and rapture—Departed
Darkness—preserving still the ways

I might have become myself, but didn’t.

The Garden

The new grass is gleaming, like a garden of syringes.

What skin.

The exact shape of the fallen
jacaranda blossoms as they brown.
I have the thirst of a phantom

blue-barbed, arrow-eyed, sharp-haired, delinquent.
When I walk into Bloomingdale’s
I wake up into the ravenous, the rising
robust green

increase of Spring—that flayed gold moment near

the tulips’ throats
as they drink and fall, drink
and fail. O arrow-sudden & delicate

touch, where my breath cuts. It sails—
Here, the April racks flourish
the stripped blossoms by Klein, Hermés, Versace, Gucci,

Boss & Burberry. I am not alone. The voice
of the darkness stutters bodies. Birds-of-paradise, daffodil,
bougainvillea, black calla. The clock vine opening

such looks—King’s Shade, and celosia.
This cashmere is my favorite, its embrace especially Vampire

Red. Like the rose when it empties itself, darkening
platelets, sleeves. The empty shapes of men . . .
Clothing is such memory.

It’s why I spend all my money.

At sunset we’ll sit close enough
so that your laughter is the season
so that your musk is slaughter like the dusk is no more

in your hair.
I close my eyes. You are with me. Goodbye.
Later, I buy two styles of Bulgari, like two styles of dying,

being here.
The shadow of the absolute speaks like a nightmare.
So much opening brightly

the absolute puzzle of a personal emptiness.

Flowers. Arms.
When you hold me we visit the shadow.