Transparent Words - Poetry


6 Poems by Bryan Murphy




After Sporting Life

Thin roads lead you to your genial host,
a man of appetite and three fair daughters
in a place named just “The Place”,
hidden from any alternative.

A Sporting Lisbon hero, their green-and-white
he wore when that brought fame
not fortune. Now he harvests
the earth’s bounty in a smallholding,

welcomes guests and advocates
from the city’s fast forwarding of time,
seats them, feeds them, shows them round,
talks of brighter days in darker places.

Wall hieroglyphics stymie
the malevolence of neighbours.
Young bloods lounge at wells,
chewing, until they flee abroad.

Envoys from modernity seep in:
roads, remittances, ideas, high tech
to cast or stay the evil eye.
Sunset falls early below the hills.

Against the Odds

Well-trained colonel burns bullet into brain.
His widow rebuilds a self, takes flight
from ashes unable to bury her.

No longer subject to Air Force quack-speak
or pressure to echo lies for her country
- though wounded, she soars.

Constraints remain: poverty; children
slow to understand, then unalloyed in loyalty.
Solitude feeds self-doubt: the worm in the rose.

Such brakes she steadily releases, then
withers codes of obedience with fire
of intellect, smashes shackles

of safe duty with sensual dexterity
beyond restraint, beyond recall.
That worm dies. Phoenix flies free.






Forgotten Army

Floodlights bathe the unscripted ritual,
cast unfocused backlight on older temples
in the indigo city: a stupa, a mosque, a church,
testimony to tolerance in times barely past,
all now subject to the whims of a vengeful SLORC,

whose military mind, that we have armed full well,
condemns free spirit to extinction here.
Behind chinkless bamboo curtains, its soldiers
try and fail, fail and try, to execute that sentence.

Yet tonight, Burmese football flair flashes,
before a Korean company club privatises fantasy
by carelessly crushing the national squad.
Throughout this uncrushed land,

in stadia, cinemas, shops and streets,
a stoic throng, caught in doldrums
between the tempests of human history,
aches for globalisation and its discontents.

Leaking Grail

Early jacaranda colours the scented air,
wrought-iron benches massage our jet-lag
in a round village square centred
on a bunting-bedecked bandstand.
Lakewards, a man above a shop strikes
hammer blows to the fašade below his feet;
its bright brick and stucco crumble. Roadwards,
work-gangs sweat to inch the grey innards
of a foetus hotel higher. Southwards,
the silver water that lures us ageing gringos
recedes to ease the thirst of Megalopolis,
while invasive hyacinth stakes out more metres
for its final resting place.



Slumming for Profit

For celluloid they pounce and mince,
mimic our out-pouring inner-city life,
sniff their fill of fine white cocaine,
block all traffic, shut our night-time shops.

They slum to conquer box-office cash
with tales of immigration, integration,
cross-cultural communication, inter-ethnic love:
thespian preachers endorsing people power.

They light a backstreet courtyard
like noonday after dark,
shoot two nights’ slow minutes
that tape dramatic dysfunctions,

then cut and run
to a more comfortable quarter.
Now kerbside shards are ours alone;
the blood they shed flows warm.


A village named for obsolete technology
becomes a logo, a postcard, a curio,
imposing in its way, set amid cliffs above
an ocean roar too harsh for casual swimmers,
its white houses like cubism without unfamiliarity,
Spain without blood, an urban vision
of timelessness beside the sea.

The city’s euros reconstruct
its skeleton and shell
after damage wrought by summer drought
or winter storm; their Trojan horses disgorge
hummers, property speculators, image makers.
Fog falls heavy on villa and hovel:
it muffles time’s blows.  







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