V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Charred coffee zipped and sizzled 
on the burner as a greasy ungloved hand 
removed the pot then sloshed more 
fingers of fuming tar into the cup. 

A lip smack, indifferent sigh and a single 
cloudy bead of sweat dropped straight off 
the nose—it could be an interrogation 
chamber, raked with hundred-watt bare light. 

That array of pungent household poisons— 
the chipped and dented cellar cabinets 
holding jars of solvents, cans of reeking 
pigments, paints, and tubs of cracking glue, 

plus the t-shirts dipped in gasoline, 
a row of cobwebbed empty wine jugs— 
the raw materials of a tranquil revolution 
staged against the sunlit workday world. 

All day long the clank and rip of tools 
that bent, smoothed, or sliced some unwilling 
medium—cheap plywood to blinding chrome— 
what did it matter?  Whoever walked 

into those tight, hot rooms to question why 
was cursed—or even worse—informed. 
Somewhere between daydream and idea, 
play and plan, lived all this aimless industry. 

Can you see him finally emerging from 
whatever corner was his shop?  That tattered, 
years-old underwear, a vivid forearm tan, 
red face flecked with motor oil, worn 

shoes held off to one side and bare feet 
on the tiles—then every son's bored groan 
at his familiar, and every father's telling 
nod or smile—someday, my boy—it's yours.

© by Jim Murphy


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