Artist's conception of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the early universeThe biologist tucks a molecule
between his oyster shell and cornea
and dives to the reef of planetary exploration.
One small speck for man;
one giant gem for mankind.

He strings his moons for the bookshelf's neck.
The insidious germ in his brain
hunches its minute shoulders and the clock
rubs his eyes to suffer subtlety
once again. We hold our breath
for lenses to propel a Victorian idea to the surface

while the wake's lace hugging the side
of our drifting ship catches our attention
and we squirm in its net. The astrologers of DNA
tune their instruments as though SS Earth
were going down along our horn rims.

Wearing any evening's basic gown with high culture,
all sexual organs begin to play, "The Phantom"—
"Amoeba! Amoeba!"
But the waltz begins when both sets of genes
climb the spiral staircase and line up
along the event horizon, or so
the smile at the end of an astronaut's nose
seems to suggest.

First published in Eclipse
Copyright © 1995, Rich Murphy>

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC/Caltech)

Rich Murphy’s poems have appeared in such periodicals as Rolling Stone, Poetry Magazine, Grand Street, New Letters, Confrontation Magazine, Negative Capability, New Delta Review, forpoetry, Inertia Magazine, Voltaire’s Inkwell, Salamander, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.

Rich Murphy’s collection of poems titled The Apple in the Monkey Tree assume that each Western man and woman is a “monkey in the apple tree:” Darwin’s monkey in Adam & Eve’s tree, suffering Christ’s pain in Einstein’s epoch while applying a salve from the East. In an era when we have Catholics, evangelical Christians, Muslims, and Jews on the news and Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and E.O. Wilson weighing in with books, Rich Murphy offers this collection of poems. The Apple in the Monkey Tree has been called “provocative and enticing” and “hypnotic and enlightening” by one contest editor. Another contest editor has said that it “is such a fabulous manuscript, filled with poems that beautifully crafted, wondrously imaginative, challenging, and often quite moving. The manuscript as a whole is thoughtful, affecting, compelling, and completely fresh.”

He is pleased to announce that Great Grandfather, a chapbook of twenty-three other poems from this manuscript, will be published by Pudding House Publications.