At the Gates of the Republic
The philosopher dogs chase speeding cars
and attack foreign armies. Sheep beep
but shave together: chop, chop. Each
species eats its noble lie and goes to work.
With everything they touch with their hands
turning into bronze or silver, the backs
upon which the people of gold are maintained
tolerate the thieves that rule them. Even
the dogs of philosophy piss on the hydrant
but retire to the friendly shade of a book.
Revolutionaries wait forever at the bus stops.
Democracies self destruct to make way
for the haves and have nots who insist
that moderation, courage, and wisdom
govern their hearts. The practiced line
of defense repels each generation’s poems.
Capital’s Colander Calendar
Camouflaged by capitalism,
the when for art never arrives.
The staff notes commuter rails
in the parallel universe.
American duck hunters
buy the fall phalanx in oil
to match the living room couch.
The Dutch pull Rembrandt canvases
to the chin for the night chill
while the French mine Cezanne
during the day.
The scheduled profound caesura
evacuates the platform – et tu brute.
Any large print in sculpture
feels geek to people
creeping around in new shoes.
Impromptu sublime beatings
escape the gallery roamers.
Tiffany frames epiphany
for the police dragnet.
Education by hunger
translates with ease into greed
when the belly fills,
and everyone in the orchestra
plays the dog whistle,
until the audience howls.
Rich Murphy's credits include the 2008 Gival Press Poetry Award for his book-length manuscript “Voyeur;” a first book The Apple in the Monkey Tree; chapbooks Great Grandfather, Family Secret by, Hunting and Pecking, and Phoems for Mobile Vices; poems in Rolling Stone, Poetry, Grand Street, Trespass, New Letters, Pank, Segue, Big Bridge, Pemmican, foam:e, and Confrontation; and essays in The International Journal of the Humanities, Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics Poetry / Literature and Culture, Fringe, and Journal of Ecocriticism. He lives in Marblehead, MA and teaches writing at VCU.