Sheila Murphy

The Vicissitudes of Breast Stroke Larry and other poems


menacing the chakra's blue quintet
while washing
totem after tame
young tango
rearing into afterlific
conveys judgment with
forging nift into
a semitone
to canvas

Realistic Spores and Sockets of Confetti

I was afraid to live until I turned
This age that has me posited
Between exhaustion and sloth
Now I spew notoriously
True comments faithful to principles
Of adaptation in the buff
And all my chronicles are mid-day
Fluff around exaggerated boy ardee without
Presumed spondee,
More fusion is the antidote
To injections of adagio's
Luck nest within the savvy, wavy instant
Of spontaneous combustion

my only repertoire is you

my only repertoire is you
can you still sleep amid abundance
and away from window listen
to the sprinkler twirling into
safely earnest lows
resembling tide and stretch
my only repertoire is you
if there are threats let them dissolve
I wheat my way through full indulgence
leaves traced beside our steps
my only repertoire is you
the steeple strains the living atmosphere
the pierced blue flow of sky
still wide without us
seams beneath repeat signs
my only repertoire is you

The Vicissitudes of Breast Stroke Larry

Pumps formulate the brass of a cappella
Grommets with blood orange
Habitat in view

What do you respect in second person
Is the hand a piece of work
Or flagrant foul

Remember how embarrassed we were being
During the American dream along
The precipice and why

The only hibernation appeared in accord with
Stitching paced to
The severe shortage of unhappiness
Aligned with reveille

A mossy bank shot in a sugared
Season logged here
From a series of fenetres


Activation plants up to the neck
Ambrosial cornice factors white
Into the luminous equation
Perchance to drain a pure collapse

One saint or two portray and
Situate a morning fire where
Plenary indulgence morphs to
Twist of lime

Light centers cauterized
Elastic playthings all at once
The junior legacy entwined with spice
Excoriates a formal justice

Why not demean the straits
And clever adages relenting
As if someone tows a poultice
Toward veracity of home


They were, we wove

And instruments of string rang plural opiate
as one lean strand in play for luck tones

Leavened fracas known to have posited
some silver as its justice reach

One keeps same young in situaria through
portable ways

Ripe streams of swim and strum to vine so
loose muscles fade tact from thrice gloomed
city space

The lean or fit lace card and wood encroach upon
these apt few loaded water avenues one
taunted space at a temptation time

As pacts begin to have worn thin I raise my
empty flask to your intuitive finesse

Few birds, free things alert to stems and



Color of inner radish, prior to talk
Versed in vernacular twice
Fargo the limestone below
Bloomington or some such loosely
Knit cadenza of the cable car or
Stitching born to seem immaculate


I wanted the whole box of it when
I was less than three. Vern Essee
Would not fork it. He just
Babysat in grad school while I
Genius in my own perfumed pine blockage
Of an insolence in later years called balance.


Foster care, rough to the touch,
Compares with an unguarded Palo
Verde tree. The implication
That a resting place ought to be stretched,
Would rarely follow natural
Progression, mini-ventures meant to be
Less obvious than snow-capped.


When language is unleashed on sidewalks,
Corresponding obvious restraint
Comes hither to ephemeral
Owned means of being dazed
In point of fact. Detached from
Snows, the feeble lines of code
Demarcate tender offer after
Tendre croppes. Leafed through space
These migratory birds release from brackets
Skylight. Thus approach the falsified
Pretense of these arrears.


Sauvignon is in the blood and then
The faceplate shifts to craving
Name that norm before I brief you
On the floor of any more exchanges

Everything is legendary till it has been
Done by you or me

The pilgrims operate a faultline
And continue biding their inalienable
Commotion in the alleyways left over
After ports of call are new and used
The only certain conflagration breathes
Upon the fumes and vies with
Granules of the rubayat

Fair game braves its viable
Though nasal opposite
Of beauty secreted as located under
Keyword flight

Brass Instruments

Aspiration, hesitation, mild froth
Of cadenza vaults apr├Ęs-midi soon
Over bearing walls
The caliber of snow

To pique a shallow intercession
Bridging the tenacity of vitriol
And toned root plucked from gardens

Harnessing the name of Walter
Factual as an about-face
Everything venturing
Toward reasoned roses

Sometimes with pink glow
After being pressed comes
Open as the guava
Jilted shut relaxes

near requiem

she was sad the whole evening seemed that way
unlike the times she would comede her way
and muscles in the room relaxed
those plain things rumored to be complicated

the way they timed themselves
made everything a flex to navigate
if anyone were going anywhere

but on this night she was bereft of fire
so busy was she trying to persuade us
she was infinitely all right
she kept repeating this was so
and we kept hearing
something slow itself
to treble softness
that presumes mysterious and present bass
to hold things and prevent their falling
to themselves


from afar the aft
and equally from here with-
in is a contented making
this because of stems
and how they are
they brim and lead a liquid
and a partial solid
to shape out some

equally and to the point
is the creation as decision
having done what and when
before deliberation turned
to sport of plaudits-for-not-doing-yet

a plant the center of analogy
leaves nothing anywhere unfinished

also a plant is not accused
of planning
or its near collapse

some leaning by the plant occurs
against the wood
the wood is beautiful
perfumed even
if perceived

what one does
and just the same
what one does not do
is composing


now there is no choice
sit down and change
the spelling
of the lilt

sit down / remove the cap
no longer surface
of the fraught thing
about to steal third

silence is replete with
traffic that occurs in ounces
at the edge
of the frayed sleep

pause before the steep
array of mesas
to look back on
all the answers


tall perf-
planted past
their bloom
when re
left some
the ground
at peace
while meticules
cleared the
faculty of
smooth re

In 1996,
Sheila Murphy's Letters to Unfinished J. won the New American Poetry Series Open Competition. She has authored numerous books of poetry, including most recently The Stuttering of Wings (Stride Press, UK, 2002).


the tin lustre mobile poetic inhalation
biography creative alliance feature
levitation eye peasant