Ryan Bender-Murphy


Transformation is a crime. Cylinders of it, too.
First breath out of the water and
you cannot hear the clicking of keyboards.
A white rat runs in a field. Its red eyes are juiced
hours later in a lab. That’s the rub.
The ticket passes from one signal to the next
until a fist hurls onto the freeway
and accidents ensue. But let’s
get back to you, fresh now, water
borne and the plentiful tides rake
society from the skin. The thickness of sunshine
booms, curtains away those images
projected from a screen.
Even that one trickle of water going down
your nose is enough to be alive.
You forget the emails sent to you in the dead
of night, when fingers smash the only
things it seems they have left. Nobody
can have a word with you. Wind is
perfect, for once. It blows the green
spiral of lines right from your head, the pie chart
glides away, and numbers turn into the artistic
rendition of birds. You look at a cloud
overhead, average patch of white,
and staring at it so long
you fade into a network of yourself,
full of ravines and jagged nooks.
It moves slower than a hello
said 200 years ago from one person to another.
A thing, floating above another—
nobody will see that as clearly as you.


I get lost in my email and focus
For so long on the beach
Background. Sometimes that is what gets me
Through the week, knowing that the ocean
Will keep turning as more emails appear,
That the beautiful blue wave will grow
As the window does—it will grow so much
That I will forget that I am even working,
Even responding to the requests
To work.

All of this happens for a split second,
The one in which atoms expand, somehow to account
For the heart I have been granted, the language
I have been given, the broomstick
I ride now, poking holes into the sky, clicking boots:
A small island appears in my heart.
And a small lawn chair and a small beach ball.
And a small table with a small book and a small sandwich.

When tissues tear and men snap
The small island grows into a continent
That houses love and only love.
I sleep in half of myself and stay awake
Breathing the salty air and lying in the lawn chair
That has grown into a bed.
Everyone whom I have ever wanted to talk to
Touches my head, and it feels like time has touched me
Granting me an eternity to grow in its fields.


A groom wearing dark blue rivers
and a bride donning the finest rock dress
from the Stone Age
walk out of a church.

A computer is cranking out
as much rice as possible.
I am typing on the computer
rice rice rice rice.

My boss brings me a sandwich,
chips, and a fountain drink.
I sip from a straw and watch
as the man kisses the woman, alone.

When they step into their limousine
I type aerial joy spheres, and bubbles fly.
I type amphibians gettin’ jiggy wit it, and frogs dance
in overalls. I type smoke you sly bastards
and mechanical guests creak cigars to their lips.

On the drive home, I take the scenic route
and glance through the passenger side:

the sea
of gasoline is burning
into a forest;

drone planes
are becoming storks.

Something like this has happened before…

I give the computer a little shake.


Ryan Bender-Murphy‘s chapbook, First Man on Mars, was published by Phantom Books in 2013. His other work has recently been published in Better, Cartridge Lit, Country Music, Deluge, and Everyday Genius. He has started a journal called Hardly Doughnuts.