First Things RSS Feed - Timothy Murphy
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Mon, 01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 Not fit enough to wander the wild woods
or separate my wouldn’ts from my shoulds,
what can I say?
Late Planting II.https://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/11/late-planting-ii
Fri, 01 Nov 2013 00:00:00 -0400 Two hundred miles I sojourned yesterday
to see one tractor and its drill
seeding the Fargo clay.
For me thats always Aprils greatest thrill
which this year came in May.
Snowmelt soaked into soil. None ran downhill
so our forecasted flood went bust.
Long loitered the chill
of winter, but at least no clouds of dust
blow from the fields we till.
]]>Almost a Franciscanhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/05/almost-a-franciscan
Wed, 01 May 2013 00:00:00 -0400 A long walk up the mountain from Assisi—
my boot heel severed from my right foot Redwing,
I smacked it back, using some broken pavement.
I’d walked my little brother to
some thirty years later I’d be a Catholic.
Now, I suppose, I’m almost a Franciscan.
I’d come not to find God but the Giottos,
ancient eye candy for a twenty-something.
in the town was Latin,
the only tongue I shared with Philippinas
and three nuns hailing out of far-off China
watching the sun set from
Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0500 I rarely pray to Christ. His sacrifice
was so perfect, it’s far beyond my ken.
I’m one of those who have denied Him thrice
but take His bread and wine, then say amen.
I pray three ways, first to the Holy Ghost
in charge of poets who would serve the Lord,
then to St. Michael, head of heaven’s host:
“Lead me in battle, angel,” I’ve implored.
Mostly I pray to Mary, for we’re told
petitions that she forwards to her Son
are answered always. All of my sins were sold
to Satan, and the sinning isn’t done.
Salvation for a creature so defiled?
In my old age I must become her child.
]]>Divine Mercy Sundayhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/05/divine-mercy-sunday
Tue, 01 May 2012 00:00:00 -0400 The parish doorbell rings.
When I descend the stair
nobody is there,
only a bag that sings
mournfully by the door,
holding some baby shoes
and little Polo crews
tagged at the Target store.
Tue, 01 May 2012 00:00:00 -0400 This wrestler isnt ready yet for college,
instead hes shaved his head for the Marines.
It isnt that he has no taste for knowledge
but hungers to divine what freedom means.
A grandfather was crippled in Korea,
shelled in an LSI, the Inchon landing.
Hes had enough of poets logorrhea,
What do they know? His dad, the lone man standing,
saved a patrol bushwhacked in Viet Nam.
Inked on his helmet as he goes to war
are lines from Davids 27th Psalm,
words to be said when A-10 Warthogs roar:
Though an army encamp against me, I shall not be dismayed. Though war be declared against me, I shall be unafraid.
This is our day for honoring the dead.
Mourners gathered just down the street from me
for a young captain, and his pastor said
the entire psalm by way of elegy:
I believe I shall see the good of the Lord in the land of the living,
Sun, 01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0500 The boy comes to the back door of the parish,
bearing he says, “A gift.”
A crib, its mattress, and a baby bearish
quilt. “I hear you people stand for life.”
What came between them, what could cleave a rift
and birth such sorrow?
Girlfriend or wife,
she gave her child no chance for a tomorrow
but left a young man sobbing in despair
on the chipped flagstones of my pastor’s stair
Sun, 15 May 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Like an emergent moth
Im flitting up a slope.
Here strips of colored cloth
affixed to every tree
are prayers, the windblown hope
of those who climb to see.
This is a
upthrust through sediment,
perduring like a myth
through mans prehistory,
Come climb Bear Butte with me.
Twelve hundred feet in dream
I climb when hope is gone,
when like Red Cloud I seem
ringed by my enemies,
when I have need at dawn
for prayer flags in the trees.
Note: Mato Paha means Bear Butte, and Pa Sapa, Black Hills, in the Sioux language.
]]>Address to the Mangerhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/12/address-to-the-manger
Wed, 01 Dec 2010 00:00:00 -0500 Sleep, infant, sleep
among the oxen and the sheep
which kneel before your manger.
Welcome to danger.
When you become a man
preach us the Good News while you can
before you bear the scourge and cross,
an everlasting loss
we all bear to the grave
with guilt. It was your doom to save
us sinners, us ungodly men
whose sins slay you again.
You could have claimed your own
Egypt, a Pharaohs golden throne.
Instead, child, you are humbly born
as Gabriel blows his horn.
Fri, 01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0400 Mikeys idea of going on the wagon
was sorrowfully to pour that final flagon
of single malt whiskey down the drain,
then switch to marijuana and cocaine.
He simply couldnt comprehend the danger
of drying out. Although he was no stranger
to white knuckling through vomit and the shakes,
he didnt know he gamed for mortal stakes.
Three times I have been felled by lightning pain
as seizures short-circuited my brain;
Three times, waking in hospitals at dawn
all memory of my poetry was gone,
and once Id nearly bitten through my tongue.
Let me leave self-destruction to the young
who need not fear, not yet, the fatal stroke
that lifted from my friend addictions yoke.