WHISKEYPAPER & POETRY: Michael Dwayne Smith & Carrie Murphy

4818500478_8d6066d69e_z POEM BEGINNING IN SPRING AND ENDING IN ABSOLUTION by Michael Dwayne Smith

I: How gently it opens, her robe. How I adore the Milky Way, night sky. All to feel the door swing open. All to pass with fingertips, on our knees. What exploded worlds into light billions ago. What dares to breathe through the throats of bodies in the black, with stars for eyes. How the freeway sighs through the window. Kiss her stars and hands and cheeks. How gently they open, her lips.

II: spilling off the slump roof autumn rain, consolation he can’t decide thinking he never desired sleep he turns over his sorrow in his bed it passes, in a streaked window postcards trapped in glass in shadow, dresser and drapes no longer can he conjure perfection in her face woman on a boat woman in a hotel lobby hair, lightly touching, lightly smell of autumn rain sobbing lightly, fingers lightly tracing, lightly, lightly

III: Sun opposite a hungover blue moon. I drink this. It is enough in me. And I will swoon

the way the weather gets cooler. November seems welcoming, simpler.

Fear winter once held in my body—not knowledge of loss, but the approach. Loss of music, friends,

cottonwood groves on dry river bottom, and spade-foot toads, hummingbirds,

those coyote-sly lips she’d open to kiss my face. Birds sing in these rocky desert hills. This

is what I want to remember. Forgiveness for the sake of it. Acceptance to sink back into

bones I am supposed to fit. Sun is the separation of trees. I am worn smooth as Mojave River stones.



SOFT STEPS by Michael Dwayne Smith

Each leaf I can only hear if I pause. Let them claim the mind. Start slowly. Walk among and around. Look and find a cactus wren’s nest. Retrace coyote tracks, until they merge with others. Mojave river bed grows larger with my decisions. Walk beyond. Notice space between things. Purple rock pile and yellow-mouthed butterweed. Pink-grey chuckwalla and bloom-drunk moth. Notice silence is a weave holding everything. That if you are very still, breathing, you can get between. That if you do, things connect to connect. Until you too become silence. Space. Between-ness. Soon, I can see through to the other side.



RAMONA (BEING ALL BEING IN HERS) by Michael Dwayne Smith

Ramona so herself these days I’m convinced it’s the shape of her, her and not me, not a self-projected part of me in the shape of Ramona, or a theatrical face Ramona wears inside me, so Ramona (Ramona!) is not the nothing of me looking for something, but the Ramona who is not waiting for someone other than, seeing instead me, instead touching my cheek (Perfection!), and is living a choice in one body and mind (Clarity!) that beholds me as I behold Ramona and that is beauty, the not waiting, the not trying, not straining to see what Ramona has not, is not, not the me making two a.m. lists of what I’m missing (Nothing!), even now as I’m writing myself down I know as in know as certain that I am not just bees in her black hair, that this time is not the past I am writing, not a future, but is present as time and the hours are always shaped like Ramona’s pink grapefruit mouth (Kisses!) which have just been here, and are here, both next to me and a galaxy away, like energy, or fresh ginger tea or whiskey in black coffee, a slow cigarette etched into moonlight floating over our bed, the bare moment, so each naked moment I see Ramona (Enlightenment!), eternal-perfect-clear in her mixed metaphor mortal imperfection, always here and not here in clutched fingers of exact instants, these my hands that only want to be my clumsy hands and touch only charity in being (Ramona!), being being nothing sought or invented, but me, and Ramona being being that choice that chooses me as me, and touches not gently my dreams but my sunburned skin, my convoluted face, my unconcerned shape being all being in hers.


About the Author: Michael Dwayne Smith is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee; he’s received both the Hinderaker Award for poetry and the Polonsky Prize for fiction. His work appears in many fine journals and anthologies, such as Chiron Review, burntdistrict, The Cortland Review, Word Riot, San Pedro River Review, Stone Highway Review, Monkeybicycle, decomP, and >kill author. Michael is publisher/editor of Mojave River Press & Review and lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his wife and rescued animals.


MAY 3, or COLESLAW by Carrie Murphy

I’ll never live anywhere that has sunsets ever again. Up in the sky, all they’ve got is macaroni packet powder. smeared with coke snot. I’m scared of buildings now because I’m smaller & I’m sadder than I ever thought I was before. I have to wipe my eyes all the time because all the things around me are there & when I blink, they’re still there.

The girl on the bus has pigtails tinged with grey. She carries a unicorn balloon that’s slowly sighing out its air. I am a slab. She’s a slab. Holding our sides up, holding our sides.



GORGONZOLA by Carrie Murphy

Here, amongst all the douchebags carrying salads, I ponder my privilege.

I have so much & yet I want so much. So, so much.

All my greed is making me greedier. All my grateful feelings

are giving me other, bigger, grateful feelings. My big gigantic feelings

& my huge gigantic wanting, a wanting that puts me to sleep with its dull-edged

normal, its relentless prison-striped marching on top of each sunshine-y day

at the designer salad bar with nuts! Seeds! Spinach! Grains from Peru! Fruit from China!

Goodness stacked around me, more & never enough. Formica, nylon,

patent-leather booties. Airplane mode of the soul against the 529 plan I didn’t ask for

but burnt through with studded drugs & golden books,

all thank-you-card grateful, sloppy & looping.



THE END OF ANTENNAS by Carrie Murphy

All afternoon I congratulate myself on my industrious progress, words swimming across the screen & plants freshly watered,

the balm for the soul of the meal-planned, the vacuumed.        That black hole, though. The asteroids that are out there. All

of the bright bad things that can happen— my uterus losing its right to itself & the scorching of California.

Why should I want a bring a baby into this world where we’re running out of water & we’re running out of time?

But medieval people thought the world was going to end, too, I remind myself: with Michaelangelo & penicillin & camera phones still yet to come to make us smart & healthy, to fill our eyes. Now we are our own auteurs.

The future’s slowly turning into yawns across miles, every day like the beauty of the burnt- out log in the bosque, the breath of the stoner boys down the street, their fuzzy dirty hair & the thick pulsing of their arteries.

My neighbor’s tire treads make the unlikely shape of a heart in the baking brown dirt so I think it’s a sign of the small things, & how they can keep us safe. It’s the end of the day, the end of the story, the end of antennas.


About the Author: Carrie Murphy is the author of the poetry collection PRETTY TILT (Keyhole Press, 2012) and the chapbook, MEET THE LAVENDERS (Birds of Lace, 2011). Her second full-length book, FAT DAISIES, is forthcoming from Big Lucks Books in 2015. She received an MFA from New Mexico State University. Originally from Baltimore, MD, Carrie works as a teacher, freelance writer, and doula in Albuquerque, NM.

Photo Credits: Elisabeth Clem/Poppy and Pinecone