Tom Murphy

Tom MurphyWindward Editors are pleased to highlight work from Tom Murphy's new gorgeous collection of poems, Pearl. Murphy is our fearless leader of the People's Poetry Festival, and a great teacher, friend, mentor, and supporter of our creative community in the Coastal Bend and Southwest region. The body of his poetry over the years, including his first volume, American History, is a searing indictment of tyranny, and an elegiacal treatise on love and loss. Particularly relevant now in the imminent face of fascism violently unfolding in our cities, as citizens protest police violence against black people, and the Black Lives Matter movement leads our fight for racial justice reform, Pearl joins this historic moment in illustrating our collective fight against erasure of our communities and human dignities in the face of corporate, oppressive forces.


Golden rod, burnt orange and firebrand red
flutter bunches sail through the canopy like spinnakers
to an array of paths that skirt smoke mountains
to the narrow roads that carve the Blue Ridge
to the still lake bottoms’ depths full of compact varve,
carpeting the forest floors.

Golden rod, burnt orange and firebrand red
cover battlefields of dead and forgotten warriors from the
Iroquois to the Algonquin
from the whipped slaves running for their lives following the
north mossy tree side to the pine cone
burning raid on Harpers Ferry
from the graves of Tom Wolfe in Asheville and Lowell’s Kerouac
to the tombs of Confederate and
Union alike in their scatterings of pitched fights to drawn-out
battles and charges
from the black lung coal miners, the meth labs hidden on hill
sides, the alcohol-fueled car accidents
on blind turns
from the French Broad, the Susquehanna, the Rappahannock,
the Shenandoah, the Merrimac and
the Kennebec.

Golden rod, burnt orange and firebrand red
colors of spring’s death mask all with vibrant hues stolen from dawn and sunset
that wait to be blanketed by a dusting of snow, falling through the bare grey
skeleton branches of

That Asteroid

That asteroid burns through the atmosphere
blazes and scorches the air
plummets in the Gulf of Mexico near Yucatán
like no other cannon ball-slamming the silted
bottom throwing steam and clay into the sky
like no other hydrogen bomb—the tsunami
follows the shock wave, killing off anything
that’s still alive. Seventy-six million years ago.

The lingering stench long dissipated,
only the bones and fossils left. We’ve
tapped with long drill bits that mulch layer
of black muck we call oil—roughneck refined
that motors us about—choking the world
to best an ancient rock that broke open
the watered earth. Indeed, all our acts
are another repercussion of that asteroid.