Mark Murphy: Two Poems

The Ruin of Eleanor Marx

At the end of the small hours
somnolent streets

dreaming our future
without you

Our night dead mixing it
with your night dead

Our night head conspiring
with your night head


At the end of the small hours
rumours of song  starlight
and rebellion

Out of each song courage
Out of courage song

Freeing you from the analyst’s couch
the unexpected

Baggage of morbidity
Brittle glass of a would-be kiss


At the end of the small hours
you are alone in an open window

Keeper of the infamous Nachlass
in search of a last justification

Part aristocrat part Rabbi
Part light part dust part pain

Borne remorselessly backwards
with your fronds and ambiguity


At the end of the small hours
when the hand mocks and sun consumes

When the bloodied nose
spells indignation upon the bed

When the fox in the abattoir
tiptoes to certain doom

When the hullabaloo in the theatre
spills into conceit and whisper


At the end of the small hours
when the candle is spent
end to end

When the great weight of being
eclipses unbearable lightness

When pages are torn out of turn
and differences of opinion

hide in the margins of thought
as hieroglyphs on the temple door


At the end of the small hours
when prophecy buries the hatchet

And the great arcana of history
falls flat like the belle of the ball

When the aggregates are in
for the tenants in the Soho slums

hiding coal from the slag for winter
Will it be fly or will it be spider


At the end of the small hours
After the final vote

After the dreams of laughter
and forgetting

After tall the secrets are blown
After tall he nails have been nailed

After past is transferred to present
After the battle-lines are drawn


At the end of the small hours
After the rosettes of doubt

After the long convalescence
and the debt never repaid

After the nights of hard drinking
and fine-dining
After all the wordless waiting
After all the touching and tears


Come the night the world ends
We shall all be waiting

Eyes wide shut

Arms open wide




May your tongue turn black as your heart
You who bark like a pig

You who would work over your own shadow
You who would tie the devil’s hands

Damn your smoke and mirrors
You who would string along the moon
You who only answer to the void

May your brass neck betray you
You who howl at the moon like a yard dog

Damn your Gospel of Pleasure
You with no fire in your belly for human love


cover of Tin Cat Alley by Mark Murphy, a drawing of a cat made of tin.

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