A sampling of poems by Timothy Murphy:

From “Hunter’s Log: Volumes II and III’’ 2019

 

Little Warrior

That dog don’t hunt. I’ve seen this film before,

pointer puppy cringing beneath a truck

when guns commence their firing with a roar.

Our dogs are warriors from the days they suck,

when they are bouncing but too fat to run

they learn explosions are the sound of fun.

 

Into the zigzag grass at seven weeks,

into the river where the decoy floats,

swim to the wing-clipped mallard where he reeks.

Leap from the gunwales of our camo boats.

September comes with every shortening sun

and whiff of powder from a starter gun.

 

Soon your puppy will rest his weary head

on fragrant roosters in your pickup bed.

• • •

Best of Seasons

I’ve longed to farm the Sheyenne River bottoms,

their topsoils black as the Red River Valley.

Instead I’ve hunted them for forty autumns.

Wake in the dark, sleepless before each sally,

white line fever, the asphalt still before me,

Columbian the coffee to restore me.

Ploughshares too swiftly bury all the stubble,

no pigeon grasses for the witch doves’ covens,

and every day I pray to shoot a double

jalapenoed and baconed for our ovens.

Sumac turns crimson and the aspens yellow.

I scratch the soft ears of my little fellow

 

and offer praises to the One who made me

and every side hill scrub oak that will shade me.

• • •

From “Set the Ploughshare Deep,’’ 2000

 

The Blind

Gunners a decade dead

wing through my father’s mind

as he limps out to the blind

bundled against the wind.

 

By some ancestral code

fathers and sons don’t break,

we each carry a load

of which we cannot speak.

 

Here we commit our dead

to the unyielding land

where broken windmills creak

and stricken ganders cry.

 

Father, the dog, and I

are learning how to die

with our feet stuck in the muck

and our eyes trained on the sky.