Earl Murray
2005 Poetry Chapbook Contest

Keeping Quiet

All too familiar,
the house cites
the discomfort of its years
in a floorboard,
frets about drafts
through a spokesman of curtains,
throws a tantrum of light
on the linoleum.

Only your drawings are missing
from where they assembled their
various clouds in crayon
on the ice box door, their
indications of wind intimate as
the curious, least mote of dust.

This afternoon, far away as a mother
a week out of breath, clouds paler
than the whitest crayon assemble
like enormous infants in the sky,
each devoting all the power of its
lungs to keeping quiet.

© 2005 Earl McMurray

Author Biography

Earl McMurray practices psychotherapy in Boca Raton, Florida. Before becoming a therapist, he taught writing at the University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, and the University of Florida. His work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Southern Poetry Review, The Quarterly, and others.

Critical Response

"Consistently assured in line and diction, in an idiom unadorned but far from inelegant, Earl McMurray's poems reveal a knowledge of lived life that speaks with earned authority and irresistible feeling. In fewer than a couple dozen pages, McMurray has more than begun to cut a substantial track toward permanence."

—Michael Heffernan
(University of Arkansas)
author of The Night Breeze off the Ocean

"In his poem ‘Waste Management,’ Earl McMurray imagines a dump where our ‘emotional refuse’ might be bulldozed into piles, ‘bag upon bag / bulging with marriages gone bad, jobs, innocent lives.’ In this fine collection Paradise Motel, the poet's quiet rage-often veiled in melancholy and beguiling story-is to collect that refuse, to face it, to sound its present resonances, to free himself from it by way of form. I'm glad to be along as this life's work begins."

—William Heyen
author of Shoah Train
National Book Awards Finalist

©2009 Longleaf Press at Methodist University | Fayetteville, NC