To Be

Read as Rock Decays






The Armadillo

wants to elope

with his pasteurized beauty

but her legs


are too long and her eyes

gallop like wild bees

from dangerous flower to dumpster


The Bat

counts on the thin branches

to whistle just before

a cloud of bugs drops in


like bored teenagers 

looking for that boy who said

he was gonna take you down


The Butterfly


corrects his flight

every two seconds

a childless old man


whose irregular embarassments

tangle his days

on this town's imaginary loom


The Camel


can't decide which

will ride on the first hump

the angel of lonely confusion


has breath as cruel as Asia

the angel of broken promises

has stories sad as glass


The Collie


pretended to be the last

of a long and fabled line

of tin scrap peddlers


who littered the countryside

with cries of Scrap Tin

Scrap Tin Peerless Bits of Tin


The Elephant


has arranged the days carefully

to follow each other

patiently like punctuation


they're bound in friendship

from Miami to Carmel

on that dark and stormy coast


The Fish


you ate swims now

in ever smaller pieces

through you to your blood


towards a dark room

where silver hooks

wait like dangerous thoughts


The Fly


manufactures helium beneath

its wings as you or I

might make arrangements


to meet next weekend

under the large green umbrella

of desire


The Hog


became a commodity

when history's hot belly

called for service


and men with tuberous feet

turned to face

the altar light of capital


The Horse


sneaks out at night for drinks

with sympathetic turtles

down by the moonlit pond


the conversation turns

to the sniping cuts of cattle

the subtle crimes of geese


The Kitten


has pale memories of Alaska -

that journey over the ice

from Siberia -


but believes

the lost plains of old Europe

still echo papa's long-tooth snarl


The Octopus


will never understand

how the sky doubles over

in its journey around the sun


clutching its stomach

with eight blue fingers

dreaming of an ocean voyage


The Rabbit


demonstrating sexual

consequences deposits

her most recent ones


down a five-foot

drainage pipe she possibly

mistook for home


The Sheep


stand around like

bad arguments so cute

and intractable


if you thrust your face

into their thick white wool

you will grow wise


The Snake


counts one on the tail

one sun making warm

one stone one idea


a singular opportunity

to approach from the rear

one and one and one green frog


The Sparrow


had two songs that knocked

out everyone except

three fat guys over by the pinball


but one of them turned

for a second thinking

he'd been here before


The Turtle


is indifferent

to the glass box the wilted lettuce

his dignity


is a granite outcrop

blind and deaf

to the human earth


The Zebra


doesn't want the world

when you're done

with it


he wants the striped

music of raw wind

the corrugated dance of lion grass

All poems by Br. Tom Murphy, O. Carm.

My Poems

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