A sampling of poems by Timothy Murphy:
From “Hunter’s Log: Volumes II and III’’ 2019
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
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.