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Nine haibun.

By Sheila E. Murphy.

 1. A Second Mother  

WHAT WAS MISSING first? The headwinds of affection, unconditional; the inference, a moth. A tremolo of snow on leaves dislodged. Narration twinned with modest rain nobody knew would come and melt the snow. How is it one requires this vestige of remand, the stems and streams preceding what is caught. Then kept, a syllable toward slow-going maturation. Memory to last as fiction climbs out of the nest.

Upholding what is taught, the junior parrots green through these crusts of palm


2. Here Now

NOT A PICTURE in the frame. The ink long dried blends into background color of the page. Flowers reflect a tidy wind of feelings named in books. The Walter of my hemisphere now blank as mud. In dark a fictive swing set in the yard. The weather of a hill still here. How silver is the lane change of my sensory perception gone to name a thousand laudatory panes to tap on. I recover you from distance I have feigned.

Lapis longitude, the hurt, a crimson on reputed snow


3. Sebastian Tact 

GIVE US YELLOWLIGHT where damsels come to crash on a caged couch.  If you loved me, you would replicate the beach. I seem to leaven kumquats when the mint new mood goes gray. How come the map is full of ashtrays from the eastern seaboard? You are penciled in for Thursday, why? I slip off moonlight when you sing. The empty shadows blaspheme op cit mantras like the wheat prone caritas of crushed stamina. Explain to me the coins you’ve filched. Are they the window to your history?  A yard with peat and gravel near the myrtle?

Sentence fathomed, two-way street, the length of walkways within reach


4. Serendip — into the Pretty Lake Light

HOLD STILL, HODDING. Girl flight’s galloping along thin twitches of barometer and windsock in our line of sight. No longer wonderful, the mid light of demeanor fastens down my thinking as I lazy far from storm and strategy. The shift starts to be over. Wallflower is amazing in its house dress blue. My stall point is my guardrail is a summer thin suit waving at the sleaze. Get ready to appear dichotomous alongside studies of the blight and keepsake weathervane about the stun predictive posh concerti.

One moment at a time, purported resurrection, thin or postured sequiturs, the peach


5. Contagion in the Neighborhood

SHE HAD A habit of beginning every sentence with a pronoun. Friendship lapsed beyond a referent. He grew tired of sorting. She knew her history was thin, and thus preferred to formulate her own. The picket fence might have been wicker; fence might have been stone. He liked attention more than being known. She wounded selves she found around the place. Northerly winds appeared young breath, a reason to belong or flee.

Pages of a calendar, found branches, the tithe of sky


6. The Brackets Hovering and Out of Work

THE GUT WRENCH pummels hinter ware. My down time rock lawn habiting the way we veer toward shale points. In the drear dark of dissimilarity, we scorched our fare. How fathomed is your house plant now, what wherewithal do you remark upon beside the fraught turn of decision lines, the pared down hot points cleared for worth? A replica in its entirety upon us. Cling to all the episodes combined with kismet in the play on verbs. What cage do you replenish when the waves go by? The brackets hovering and out of work. The dime span. The integrity of lamb’s wool near the gorse. What window do you spare the atmosphere ashore? When feeling fractured until hill tone cranks the lock of hair; how many guidelines do you lamb toward?

A plethora of limbs that fall, a place to walk across


7. The Grotto

A PLACEBO FRACKS the pin light. Tell me, Otto, do you wince when you encounter candles in their miniscule dissembled span? The tidy shares evince intention glowing with redemptive peace. If that is what we know, we flock to rows of these. Admit one, reads the ticket, and we move a step beyond. The present tense is watching fact be known. Where is the sitcom in remembering what used to last? Alongside integers, we offer flack. We camp along the withered green. We talk. We hit the sack.

The innuendo of retreat, the thought of simmering, a measure of retreat


8. The Soft Lean Prince of Place

PEACE PINGS TUMBLEWEED. The tepid swirls of beige go by resembling diphthong ducks and grass, these insects other than the soft lean prince of place, whole west meandering, the olive trees drab sage still whisper. In the long rain after hottest spell, thin eucalyptus leaves tinged with the dreamed stares of accomplices remarked upon in seams.

Siloes tin toned in the weather, a temptation just to hold mid-field and gaze into the cloud lines


9. What Am I To Tell You (Who Am I)

WE HAVE A language and it keeps. Your little window blotted by black drapes. Nor do you see me through the phone. The hair trigger of a dim point equals quiet zone. I toss a phrase that you repeat to me. I hold the sliver of a lifeline open for your light. I sleet toward slivers of polite speak within daylight distant as a rock. The planet was our lifetime, and the touched frets of the sweet guitars would fashion hope of song. How can you darling far away now as I soldier on alone?

Threadbare, recollection, sleeves of tree light

Sheila E. Murphy is an American poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. A forthcoming volume from Luna Bisonte Prods in 2020 is Golden Milk. Murphy’s Reporting Live from You Know Where (2018) won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland).  That same year, Broken Sleep Books brought out As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory. Luna Bisonte Prods published Underscore (2018), featuring a collaborative visual book by K.S. Ernst and Sheila E. Murphy. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). She is known for using unusual forms including the ghazal, haibun, and pantoum in her individual writing. As an active collaborator, she has worked with Douglas Barbour on an extended poem called Continuations. Murphy’s visual work, both individual and collaborative, is shown in galleries and in private collections. Initially educated in instrumental and vocal music, Murphy is associated with music in poetry. She earns her living as an organizational consultant, a professor, and a researcher with a PhD degree. She has lived in Phoenix, Arizona, all her adult life.



  1. wrote:

    Sweet and then. you hit all the glimpses and AWAY
    thank you thankyou
    I feel like these poems

    Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 01:16 | Permalink
  2. wrote:

    Very grateful for your generous response, Cynthia. Thank you, Sheila

    Tuesday, 11 August 2020 at 23:37 | Permalink
  3. wrote:

    Few works of prose such as Ms Murphy’s” Nine haibun,” require, let alone demand, a re-reading, as these words contain their own distinct music, much in the sense which Sir Stephen Spender once conveyed to me when I was a young student and realized that most of the university audience before him took ‘the music of words’ as a trope or catchphrase used by lecturers– much as an elegant attorney might elucidate ‘ The dignity of the home’ at times by rote to prevail on point. But Spender enjoyed a lifelong relationship with Natasha Litvin an accomplished concert pianist par some assert with Iturbi. And Steven’s extolling of some word-smithings as music were indeed authentic.

    Sheila Murphy’s words are chosen not only to tell, as each word does, but in concert both the countenance and the mind’s inner music are drawn into the crisp , but meaningful interludes of prose woven to inspire a look at the loom before us and wonder at the modern, yet Yeatsian harp music nuanced in the fabric and its shuttle.

    Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 02:59 | Permalink
  4. wrote:

    Thank you, Bob, for the very specific response that acknowledges the music and elevates my own understanding. Grateful as can be! Sheila

    Tuesday, 11 August 2020 at 23:37 | Permalink

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