Matthew Murrey: Three Poems


My son’s rat is as clean
as a garden, as calm
as the Buddha’s thumb.
When I hold him
he looks right at me,
but I’ll never know
what he knows,
what any animal knows:
our dog staring out the window;
that cardinal on the roof
casting out his red song,
or the cows lining up
twice a day to be milked.
Most people think people
are completely different,
better than animals—
but I think of Inky the rat:
he’s never bragged
of his patience,
bitten in anger,
or schemed after money.
I can’t even say the same for myself.



“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” — Genesis 1:26 (English Standard Version)

Garbage bags glassed
windows.  Siding hung
from houses like rags.
Kids cried all morning
but never came out.
Then a low, loud angel
roared out of nowhere
and plunged over there
in thunder, raised a wedge
of black smoke the wind
smudged away.  Amen.
It is good to praise the end
of the ones in charge.
Though they fed us,
they also drove the trucks,
held the stinging prods,
and did their best to hide
their bloodcut blades.
They were here Saturday,
then done for by Sunday.
They became churches
for ants and flies, the tip
of the inverted steeple
of each vulture’s spiral,
relics for their unleashed,
lean dogs to fight over.
They never dreamed rejoice
would be for us, the ones
they’d penned and preyed upon.
We bow our heads
to earth, eat what it provides.


Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse

Ear to the ground,
oh mellow, brown-yellow
hollow orb, stay
still.  Behind sealed lips
tongue hankers
for pancakes and kisses.
Missing hands miss everything:
keys, keyboards, hammers,
buttons, sand and silk.
And a long lost dick—
well, you know
how pathetic dicks are,
don’t you?  Longing
fills the cask.  Art
has turned my head
into the golden egg that lies
on the floor and listens
to exhaust and the chatter
of strangers who stop, stoop,
gaze, then walk away.
A thing of beauty is a joy, whatever.

What are you looking for?