Two by


Rich Murphy





Safe Space



By definition, the comfort zone pillows

substitute for every other word.


Sedative glasses rest on nose bridges

while a waltz strings the vagus nerve

from brainstem to toes.


Trigger warnings cone off

learning opportunities

so that a narrow slalom harrows

the school bus curriculum.


With experience imprisoned

little impression and thinking

feel about right for the new

graduating class accustomed

to eggshells on floors each morning.


Outside the lounge, no one rushes

to embrace snowflakes falling from the sky.

Black smoke erupts from rubber tires burning,

while live rounds fill the air

with a cold atmosphere that freezes flesh.





Dewey Dismal Diagnosis



Medicines lodged in library throats

without curing the city

generation after generation.


The swallowing and digesting words

even with promising side effects

suffered from a choke hold.


The privileged knew how to read

but couldn’t, and the illiterate

picked through trash barrels.


Rats race outside marble floors.


Industrial mortar and pestle

ground away at the interior

causing ulcers in Chicago,

hemorrhaging in Los Angeles,

and psychosis in New York City.


Should some archaeologist from a dig

spoon out pills once bound

for throats, ears, and clarity,

the sifter and fragment collector

might distinguish among the peace signs:

placebos from the verbs with verve.


Founding Fathers seem to have carried

smallpox in blankets without knowing

and a terminal ideology in language.









Rich Murphy’s “Meme Measure,” a collection of poems will be published by Wipf and Stock in 2022.  His poetry has won The Poetry Prize at Press Americana twice Americana (2013) and The Left Behind (2021) and Gival Press Poetry Prize Voyeur (2008).  Space Craft by Wipf and Stock also came out 2021.  Books Prophet Voice Now, essays by Common Ground Research Network and Practitioner Joy, poetry by Wipf and Stock 2020.  He has published nine other collections of poetry. 



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