Poems

A SELECTION OF POEMS © LIZZ MURPHY
You might also like to visit www.project365plus.com.au where Lizz and other poets are posting new work every day for the year.


THE ARCHITECTURE OF PEAR
Lizz Murphy

1.
One pear is built by its words the other assembled in paint
lake strokes swirling into wide pear base
They are plain canvas  torn duck  numbers running in reverse

2.
To make an edifice of pear
fashion first a coracle
a wherryman  a crescent moon

3.
One pear skips a page
This pear is made from old texts
and the must of books

4.
If a pear is juicy it is also soft
So is decay
have you thought about that?

5.
Each word about a pear is a word out of it
I assemble it I destroy it the annihilation of pear
The first bite is with a knife

6.
A pear is an ancient
I hold its history
it rocks in the hull of my hand
I splinter the pear
There is the knife again
but the brush has most command
even more than the tongue
although it does not have taste
It brings me refuge as the sea is breath

7.
At the moment no-one is next to me
just the pear  the other is a core

8.
There is something about pears and newspaper
They read so well together


— Awarded joint first place (with Kristen Lang) in the 2011 Rosemary Dobson Award, a national prize offered by the ACT Government (Canberra). Since published on the artsACT website and in Award Winning Australian Writing 2012 (ed. Adolfo Aranjuez, Melbourne Books 2012).




BLACK TAXI
Lizz Murphy

It takes a few days for my own
accent to be
everyday again for the internal
compass to
not swivel the head except when
there is a
variation of dialect a new end of
the city or
a sharp twist in a stone walled
country road

Or a Swedish backpacker asking
directions
in the Sinn Féin bookshop Can I
walk she says
Oh yes you can but a black
taxi tour
will tell you everything you want
to know
And you know she is really
asking is it safe



— Previously published on the Linen Memorial Community Website and in The Ulster Tatler.
This poem is from a return visit to Belfast, (Northern) Ireland in 2008, after 40 years in Australia. The famous black taxis have a history of their own and these days provide tourists with tours of the city and other parts. There are quite a few websites promoting the tours but for a more personal account by a visiting journalist and a Black Taxi Tour via an accompanying Youtube video, visit Café Babel.





THE BUDGERIGAR
Lizz Murphy

You open the door to my cage
I play                                   

UP the stairs
     and

down
                       again

                                    finger
                                        to
    finger

entertaining your Sunday visitors
After all I saw the bigger bird
you had for Sunday roast




     — from Portraits (PressPress, forthcoming January 2013); 
       previously pubiished by The Canberra Times




LANDSLIPS
Lizz Murphy

Look down that squinty street
where the greasy moon hovers
floodlights the turret chimney-run

Your rawboned hand
roams to that white place
your fingers are linnets
leave strange wings

Haphazard seas drown us out
grainy winds tow us in
no words for the landslips
the whitebait of our memories

We didn’t take enough photos
We said that

     — from Walk the Wildly (Picaro Press 2009 RRP $5 pb 27 pp) an example of the beautifully produced and very affordable Picaro Press chapbooks. 
NB Ginninderra Press has taken over Picaro - Walk the Wildly will be reprinted this year.


FOOTAGE
Lizz Murphy


The shoe
as a missile
is a farewell kiss
is an insult
is a minor offence
is an international crime
is an ugly act
is a curse
on a world leader
is from the widows
is from the orphans
is from those
who were killed in Iraq
This is the footage

        — from Six Hundred Dollars (PressPress 2010)


HERE WE COME
Lizz Murphy

Our whole lives are broken down journeys
vehicles that spit and fizz with too many mendings
too much age
Wheels worn into the constant blue-black of bitumen
the endless signature inked into suburban arteries
and now across deserts
the red skirt dissected
the stiletto heel stab of rain rare indeed
Only in our heads
despondent as birds standing watch over dead loves
knocked down by speed
pasted to the wake left by two worlds colliding

How concise is colonization
country to country and now planet to planet
Look out Mars here we come
ready or not

    from Stop Your Cryin (Island Press 2004 RRP $15 pb 66 pp)
More poems from Stop Your Cryin at: http://sites.google.com/site/lizzmurphypoet


SHOPPING FOR CHICKENS
Lizz Murphy

Old women white skin
left without sunshine
Light pulpy flesh
scent of kill freshness
keen as axe heads

And at home preparing
worn wood chopping board
slicing and trimming
spicing basting
between plump legs
breadcrumbs herbs
pungent onion

And after
The cleaning
A nobule of white meat
a sliver of pink tinted
translucent
Clots of rich blood

My kitchen table
is dirt-ground and flies
My kitchen knives
Old blades rusting
Or already blood smeared

I am old woman chicken claws
keeping young girls pure
Their fathers send them
their mothers bring them
I no longer hear the screams
as village women straddle them
hold them still their limbs apart
Or the crude cut of skin
the wrest of paltry pieces of
flesh from their child bodies
Afterwards legs lashed
for primitive healing

        If I was making soup
        I would truss this chicken
        with coarse string
        just like my grandmother
        her fast hands work-moist
        She never could understand
        how my grandfather
        hated the taste
        Maybe he knew this poem
        was already in my veins



— from Two Lips Went Shopping (Spinifex Press 2000 RRP $19.95 pb 145 pp)














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