Open Hearth

by Shane Murphy

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For Jeremy E. Drake, 1944-2010.


released February 1, 2011

All songs copyright 2011 Shane Murphy except "Another Time" (copyright Thomas D. Rapp)

Mixed, mastered and produced by Joe Phillips for WildCat Records.

Cover painting by Kira LaRose.



all rights reserved
Track Name: A Silent Spring
Hyacinth, a thrown discus has left you bleeding
--The West Wind, he set it off course.
Hyacinth, from your spilled blood I fashion my garden
and The West Wind upends you at the source.

Bait me on a silent spring.
The martins move to let me bring you this,
the spondee of my hands, a cove
about your face: the soft water.
Track Name: Hide and Seek
Thick air in my lungs: my demons work bellows
from my shoulder or the shoreline, wherefrom I measure horizons.

Hide and seek:
with gods as my witness, I'll be deeper than the shallows.

I stare at the sun with kaleidoscope-blinking.
I've a short-sighted vision: you're hooked, lined; we're sinking.
Track Name: A Simple Understanding
Ten square chains and a home of pine:
I want a simple understanding
of work, of love, of a child in a cradle,
some fiddle before our bones bed for night,
and the trunnels offset to brace our anchor beam.

A thousand square chains and your hand in mine:
I want a simple understanding
of fields, of rain, of a horse and bridle,
a kettle to steam the cold panes of night,
and a well-rehearsed bend toward sleep for tired eyes.

Hearts unchained and your hand in mine:
I give you, darling, a simple understanding
of wants, of warmth, of our lives well-cradled,
a treadle to move our love day and night,
and the purest of springs to cleanse the water downstream.
Track Name: Aubade: Isle La Motte
Attention turned to the pasty moon

Always the same clay face I have seen
St Anne in dapple-gray light with palms
Out as though nudging us forward
When the cold pulsed like a blister

Deep water is a psalm we lean toward
As ancestors certain only of its mystery
Champlain's small waves crumble like gypsum
On the rocks

Where founders stabbed
The earth with bronze crosses and votive
Deity We took it all in stride
From stone patriots to Mary with a flickering
Wick at her bare feet
She is guarded
She was sculpted with a constellation
Of blemishes on her forehead

And her eyes and how many others
Made the Mohawks fear that island


I remember it now in chiaroscuro
Above the stampede of clouds in winter

I spent an hour on the atlas
Of the tarmac where the final wet
Stains of the season bid me adieu
Here six miles high in degenerate sleep
The prattle the polite turbulence the sense
That I'm lifting toward heaven toward something new
With a gusty voice with silence
Toward a heaven cherub-heavy
And its host of floury bodies

Oh let me not rise before the sun

The universe I eat I drift
The universe is roe with globs of stiff butter
We do our best to prick it with airplanes
We wonder what color blood snakes through it
We cling to fantasy in dreams for fear
Of waking empty


There is a home I imagine
Its cobblestone path is crumbly with wear
It is anywhere There is rubble on TV
Phone wires outside are crow-bent and crowbars
Pry screeching nails from the shingled roof
As from a casket
And doesn't the sun
Rise white as cream there
Isn't it a dimple
On the delft face of sky

I will go
Again to Isle La Motte and touch my hand
Against the storm-licked shrine whose blood
Is thicker than Champlain's and mine
And whoever is there on the island
In her own sad eternity with a worked smile

Protecting nothing any longer
But praying still that we thank Her
Track Name: Caught Deep in the Dye
The brick is fastened to mortar.
I am attic-bound, witnessing
spring fall. I can't recall
what about your absence
has shocked me to write again.
I have stared for days on end
at squirrels nosing through
skidder-tracks, where needles stormed
from the felled front-yard spruce.
And here, though in bed by ten,
the town wriggles at the first licks
of spring. At Mulberry and Chestnut
my brain presses on
like a trawling motor, the familiar hum
silence can no longer do without.
Track Name: Prism
We waited all night long for the sky
to open and sparkle
our fast crown of water ice.

Dear prism, if the sun allows,
I'm awash in your colors.
I'm afire with this vow:

There is nothing I want more
than to break bread with an artist's hands.
And if they be yours,
may earth, air, fire, and water
command the stars to assent, my heart to warm.
Track Name: Storm and Wake
Stay on the shore, dear one; the wake could overturn you.

The soft ripple of a dorsal fin
in this cove; the cove the cupped hands
of a god at his shaving mirror;
the sky bent well in an Archaic smile.
Dear one, do you while away hours
in song, like a warbler?

Your tremolo, sweetest tremolo,
brings a storm, brings
shipwrecked sailors to your port.
Track Name: Small White Petals
Small white petals in the wind,
and sidewalks mosaicked
with samaras from the maples,
and footprints, and music:
a merganser-spotted pond
on a bleak Sunday.

When you move like first light
through the blinds, I am
at peace. When you move
like first light through the blinds,
you warm me like a memory.

The faithful file into church
in well-pressed white blouses.
They up and leave,
they smile, they share
God in upscale white houses.
Track Name: Plaster from Lath
There's a ghost in the window with vacant eyes,
white in the twilight, corset-pinched
and blighted by the downpour.

In the hallway I have seen you
in your white lace. In the hallway
I sit for your soft piano serenade.
While the last one home slams the door,
we separate like plaster from lath.

Angel-winged Canada geese
and I have stayed north this winter.
Dawn breaks like porcelain; with clipped wings,
to the soil I am tethered.

In the hallway I have seen you
in your white lace. In the hallway
I sit for your soft piano serenade.
While the last one home slams the door,
we separate like plaster from lath.

Come in, then, have a seat, I have saved
some soup for you. Be the tureen empty
I will share my eyes with you.
When the last one home slams the door,
don't let's separate like plaster from lath.
Track Name: Idle Hours
Neither silence nor the dark
bend of light through the blinds
can harrow my wide-eyed hours.
As you rest in the young dawn, I resist
the cold landscape
from which these panes were made
to protect us. Wake
and melt away the ice.
Neither birdsong nor the animal bedlam outside
in the trees can torture you
out of your sleep. As the waves
of sheets turn you like beach-glass,
the cold landscape's my refrain;
and if nothing protects us, ...
Track Name: Higher Altars
Sidle away the way I taught you.
And savor mistakes, the salt of the earth, the sweat of desire:
upon what but those ruins
could you erect higher altars?

The door is braced with luggage of divorce:
typical garments of temporal longing.

For the fourth time in a week, the well water
froze; gabardine-decked men arrived
in the driveway, with Jesus billowing
from pamphleted pockets. They spouted the power

to splice fraying hearts, but their passionate
rhetoric could not soothe love, could not write
those hearts into the scriptures
of sleep. So much depends

upon the umbilical tug, the restless
voyage home, the want and eisegesis
of reunion. So much--lost in the furrowed brow,
the disapproval, the wheels forced to turn.
Track Name: For the Birds
With all-too-familiar bones you rattled around--
a shattered hip, some slipped gears. Then, just hummingbirds
eye-level in a makeshift home, hospital-cozy,
with red shag, bedpans, a throat
full of stories.

Old age seems a troubled childhood:
the birds we dream of being, we become--caged and lonely.
Death is for the birds.

I sweep the stairs and my eyes of pollen.
I beckon spring to nest here, with its hummingbirds
and a makeshift god. May the earth
be cozy. The topsoil in my hand
is a fistful of memory.
Track Name: Nunc dimittis
Since it was all to come to this
the graying green
patina of the failing
labored breathing
the night tremors
wild and flailing

Go then
now to savor the earth
though it
be so cold
this time of year