Fall 2017

Volume 12, Issue 2



From Bone Shop Marina



I gave that fat-head [Federico García Lorca] a shot in the head.

– Antonio Benavides (as reported by Giles Tremlett)


The artist is approached not as an original thinker in his own medium but, rather, as an instinctive, intuitive executant, who, largely unaware of what he is doing, breaks through the mystery by the magic of his performance to 'express' truths the professionals think they can read better than he can himself.

– Barnett Newman


The unfriendliness of society to his activity is difficult for the artist to accept.

– Mark Rothko




Clouds formed into fog that gushed with blood
from 1900 through 1950 and ebbed
into small wars thereafter.

The first lightning flash struck in Dallas:
contingency slumped in a back seat.
Dishonest decades assumed
within the furniture in homes.

Easels and pencils had gathered for craft
while business models poked fun
and brushed against lips that question.



In mud, boots fill and did.
Beneath the heel, a nation,
gurgling in the monotonous sublime,
would not nose up to the impossible.



A crew waited for cliché, platitude,
and non-sequitur to reign enough
that the squawking and creaking
hulk lifted into a floating island.



While a known world ended
with each current event
on the 20th Century Limited,
drafts billowed and bellowed
as pages drifted with the colors.



The treasure in feet, in strokes
marks on the experience map:
within portside and starboard
and bow and stern mid-sea
freedom from tormenting
security and community.



Fathomed coastal and landlocked countries
harbor for schadenfreude, if not
for resentful gunship troops,
while mirroring the required secret smile.

Yet under the buzzwords, jingles,
and groupthink, each grin enforcer
flourishes while blind to the cost
and to the ticking in the clock.



The dog paddler Plato bobs
and mocks with cat calls
among the brainwashed
and now bloated bodies.

Should art die upon a swelling rage,
slaves were thrust upon the stage.



The raving market and propaganda
champagne christens until Koolaid disappears
and children sink into strait-jackets:

coloring book cemeteries
bubble with a vision for filling in.



Forever out of joint upon the SS Tomorrow,
a root network where gingerly blossoms,
human natures sit alone at breakfast tables
with attention toward traumatic imbalance
and bake, bathed in salt, soiled hands into evening.


Inventing balance for fear and anxiety,
desire and despair, chaos and horror,
Thumb Island, counterweight to technocracy
re-minds with huckleberry tendrils how to be.



When the canvases fill with breath
and the ambiguity in the shipping log
absorbs, the dove stretches

for sailors, so a bay outline, the X
on the cognitive map that hubris stole
only to hang around necks,
promises now in human scale.



Famous for robots and cement shoes,
the underworld Laputa marches on
spouting dead images, hypnotic language.

On board an unmoored peninsula
for “land ho,” all hands
from crow nest to the hold for the haul
sing for trireme schemes and for Queen Mary too.




  1. W. B. Yeats’ "The Circus Animals Desertion" and his "toy Noah's ark" for the state of art now in the twenty-first century; Robert Lowell's "Waking Early Sunday Morning" from Near the Ocean addresses the situation in the US as it did in Kennedy's and Johnson's time; W.H. Auden's "September 1, 1939."
  2. Robert Lowell's "Waking Early Sunday Morning"; 1984 by George Orwell.
  3. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
  4. Alfred Hitchcock's phallic connotation with the train in North by Northwest.
  5. Mark Rothko's embrace of a kind of negative capability in his book The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art.
  6.  NA
  7. Plato’s banishment of poets as liars from The Republic with Boris Pasternak’s understanding in "The Poet."
  8. NA
  9. Rescue ship in Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuarón; "traumatic imbalance," Zizek's definition of life; reference to rhizome, Gille Deleuze.
  10. Snowpiercer directed by Joon-ho Bong; Deleuze's rhizome via Mark Twain's raft and Martin Heidegger's shepherding being.
  11. Noah's Ark; Samuel Taylor Coleridg's "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."
  12. Arthur Rimbaud's "Drunken Boat"; Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.


If you want to read more from Rich Murphy,
click here for his collection Asylum Seeker



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