Poetry: Sean Murphy

Read More: A brief interview with Sean Murphy

Howlin’ Wolf’s Arena

On occasion he would crawl across the stage,
not like a dog but a soldier trapped in a trench.

Avoiding sharp rim shots and blasts of brass or
the iced-over stares of bewildered civilians.

This, for him, was the front-line, something to abide
every night under those lights, and like any war,
it was more or less safe as the stretches of peace:

Wherein difference or friendly fire could kill you,
while the maître d’, forever smiling, counted
the bodies, cleaned up, and served last call.

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Bud Powell’s Brain

Was it that hard-boiled cop’s unindicted Nightstick
that scrambled your system, sending misfired messages
into the soft-wiring that polices ungovernable impulses?

Or was collateral damage already done? Chemistry coalescing
the onset of sickness, like a chick pecking through its shell?

Uno Poco Loco: an epitaph for stillborn souls that can’t
escape the yoke of adversity; Nature’s always improvising,
uninterested in excuses, or anything that could plausibly explain
the roots of Squares—and circumstances of those serving them. […]


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Sun Ra’s* Spaceship

I’m not of this world, Ra insisted, and it was obvious
to everyone: He ain’t one of us. You see, he swore, I am
from out there: I conjure up other worlds that could break your brain.
And to be Blount? This claim was only scarcely less credible
than faithful suckers talking to an old man in outer space. […]


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(*Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, “cosmic philosophy”, prolific output, and theatrical performances. Born and raised in Alabama, Blount would eventually become involved in the 1940s Chicago jazz scene. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun) and developing a complex persona and mythology that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism: he claimed he was an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he consistently denied any ties to his prior identity.)

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Sean Murphy has been publishing fiction, poetry, reviews (of music, movie, book, food), and essays on the technology industry for almost twenty years. He has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Forbes and AdAge. In addition, he is an associate editor at The Weeklings, where he contributes a monthly column. He writes regularly for PopMatters, and his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, The New York Post, The Good Men Project, All About Jazz, AlterNet, Web Del Sol, Elephant Journal, FIVE:2:ONE, 805 Lit + Art and Northern Virginia Magazine. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard. He’s Founding Director of Virginia Center for Literary Arts (www.thevcla.org). To learn more, please visit seanmurphy.net/ and @bullmurph.

Read More: A brief interview with Sean Murphy