"A Drowning Person Does Not Ask 'Is This a Good time?'," "Treble Clef," and "I Listen to His Eyes"

A Drowning Person Does Not Ask "Is This a Good Time?"

A mirror held to breath
translates routine
this moment as eternity.
How many syllables
does it take
to form a language?
Temperance unifies.
Intemperance also
unites us.
Light hovering above
the tiny boat
occurs apart from motion. 



Treble Clef

I no longer hear that silvery soprano tone protecting me.
The woods, deep darkly, overcome a sheer blue sky, the color of your eyesight.
How can this impeccable quiet answer me?
A whole pure run of notes shows I have practiced imprecisely.
How to explain imaginary fullness anymore.
People know me even as I disappear.
The sanctity of her daylight leaves my solo midnight
lived and living on beyond. 



I Listen to His Eyes

He told me as we stood masked along the north street side
he is depressed more than before. I tell him
the same without the words I listen to his eyes.
I watch him shift the mask it's difficult to breathe,
yes, it is quiet near the sanity that we presume
to hold and then retrieve and lose again.
How are we neighbors anymore, how were we then?
What is the meaning of deciduous, my lonely perfect friend?
Why are we defined by what we barely can describe?
The weather taints the skin, the street is full of gray,
he told me he has lost so many decibels and pounds.
I am in touch with hunger, I dispose of
all the symptoms.
We have many things to talk about, we are confounded by
purported leadership synonymous with lust.
The world is just a little round, the world is not communicable.
We thought we had it nailed and now the fingerings
have been forgotten, and the tones are long
and broken, and then breathed so many times, like bodies
we believed we owned or were, that only hold a little while.



Sheila E. Murphy

Sheila E. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Her most recent book is Golden Milk (Luna Bisonte Prods, 2020). Reporting Live from You Know Where won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition (Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland), 2018). Also in 2018, Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory. The chapbook Separation Theory (Writers Forum, 2004) was just reprinted (Trainwreck Press, 2022).


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 22:04