Written in Arlington

A Memorial Day poem from the forthcoming anthology Written in Arlington, which showcases the poets and poems of Arlington, Virginia.


Memorial Day
by Sean Murphy

Unanticipated clouds advance, shifting the weight
of the world—or at least the measured objectives of
so many compulsory affairs—nonplussed after all
this time by their capacity to inspire, interrupt, or else
frustrate the better angels of Nature’s encumbrance.

Fathers linger absentmindedly at inexhaustible grills.
Mothers indulge in a quick cry behind bathroom doors
(more from habit than necessity). Bored children fish
in depleted ponds, muscle memory improvising
rituals handed down unthinkingly, like faiths or families.

Soldiers, acknowledged at last in their fortified shrines,
die afresh each time a bouquet drops like a shell
atop consecrated soil, foretold fates secured again,
courtesy of grim yet unconflicted officials, whose
solemn directives ensure that history repeats itself.

Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. His work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, The New York Post, The Good Men ProjectMemoir Magazine, and others. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and he served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard. He’s the founding director of 1455, a literary arts organization.

Written in Arlington / Spoken in Arlington is a print and digital collection of the poets and poems of Arlington, VA, edited by Katherine E. Young and published by Paycock Press (forthcoming, fall 2020). It is supported in part by Arlington County through the Arlington Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts. For more information, visit Arlington Arts.

Image: After the Rain mixed media/collage on canvas by Anya Getter (fragment)

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2 Comments

  1. Katherine,

    I enjoyed your appearance at the NC Poetry Society and I’m glad to be receiving these. They are of excellent quality in general and Arlington should be proud, as you yourself should be.

    Just wanted to let you know I read and appreciate every one! Thanks, CalVP CommunicationsNCPS

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Cal — I’m so glad you like them. Can’t wait for the full collection to be published this fall so everyone can enjoy all the poems (and, yes, I’m amazed at how good they are, too!).

      Reply

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