I was raised by a wing of dragons bearing the habits
of religious sisters who smacked me when my mouth
was smart and again when it was slow to learn.
They force-fed me sweet potatoes scrambled with lard
to fatten me up, for what oven I was never sure.
I stowed myself in the belly of a coffin ship
that floated by each solstice and again when the night
and the day were the same. It drifted to an island
where the sun rises above the waves and rarely sets.
O, how I long to serve myself a slice of the syrupy evening,
to handle decoys from the permanent collection and examine
the scribbling of longitude lunatics long dead.
Instead I work the gravy shift where none of the plates
are special or blue and each diner is a narcissist with a n appetite.
At this table an ensemble of latex artists.
At this table a banker and his pen.
At this table breakout leaders from a convention of choirs
where each delegate sings only the songs of himself.
Peter E. Murphy is the author of Stubborn Child, a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, and five poetry chapbooks, Thorough & Efficient, Mr. Nobody, previously published, and The Last Pub on Earth, I Thought I Was Going to be Okay. Atlantic City Lives is forthcoming in 2016. His unique writing assignments have been collected in Challenges for the Delusional. In addition to receiving six poetry writing fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, he has received awards and fellowships from The Folger Shakespeare Library, The National Endowment for the Humanities, Yaddo and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. He has been an educational advisor to Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers and other PBS poetry programs. He is the founder of Murphy Writing of Stockton University which offers programs for poets, writers and teachers in the U.S. and abroad.