Joseph Murphy

Joseph Murphy has been published in a wide range of print and online journals, including The Ann Arbor Review, Northwind and The Sugar House Review. He is the author of four poetry collections, The Shaman Speaks, Shoreline of the Heart, Having Lived and Crafting Wings. Murphy is also a member of the Colorado Authors’ League and for eight years (2010–18) was poetry editor for an online literary publication, Halfway Down the Stairs.

The Ladder

Sunlight warms my shoulders,
igniting a memory.

I’m walking a park’s dirt path, a boy again. Autumn
immense, brilliant.

But I’m being dragged above it! Very dark.
Other memories
grasp my shoulders; pitch me
back and forth; shouting,
whirl me around.

I’m forced to focus
on what was to come. Boyhood
shattered. Sad, difficult.

But I’d break through. Like most. Persevere.

That path fell to pieces
when he died. Grandfather. Farther.

So many others fallen. Numberless — not just
in old age. By another’s hand; disaster, war.


The shutter; the grieving. An effort
to climb a shaking ladder; rise above
what had been delivered,
unsealed. Empty.

© 2020 Joseph Murphy