Peter Murphy

If This Be Treason

...............The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire incoming friendly fire.

Property is theft, laments the man who never was
because he owns none, wondering how
the huge oceanfront homes occupy themselves
when they are not sheltering their families from taxes.

Capitalism is not love, his mother taught him
before breaking up. An ounce of image is worth
a pound of incompetence in any economy,
her own life sprouted from a bottle of gin.

I’ve been bamboozled, complains the iron curtain.
Give me back my wall and my economy
and my resources and my gray, gray shelf lives
and my health care and my parades and my Leningrad.

I want my Leningrad!
Give me my masses whose hope turned their hoes
to soil up an empire which could feed itself and march
and keep on marching and feeding and making.

...............Man exploits man, each according to his ability.
...............Company announces chair leaving.
...............Miners refuse to work after death.

Make me a tomb, Goodyear orders
the man who never was, who hoists a brown bag
over his shoulder, the storefront advertising
We Delivery! on its paned glass.


Peter E. Murphy is the author of Stubborn Child (2005), a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize, and a chapbook, Thorough & Efficient (2008) both from Jane Street Press. He lives in southern New Jersey where he teaches at Richard Stockton College and directs the annual Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway in Cape May and other programs for writers and teachers. He received a 2009 Poetry Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

(author retains copyright)