When my father was a bear

When my father was a bear,

he was even more frightening when he growled, standing up tall, his small black eyes beedled onto me.  The recliner no longer fit him, not even the couch, and my mother said he couldn’t get into their bed anymore, citing a problem with fleas.  So he loped off into the deep mossy woods that spread green and white all the way to the polar circle, in search of the spawning coho. Before winter closed its jaw hard, he returned, his long curved claws hooked into a fine big net that he dragged behind him, at least 50 fat red fish lolling in it, ready for our freezer.  He told us he had eaten to excess, gorged guts and all, and was ready to sleep.  We put up the family tent in our backyard and he crawled in to the tune of a blizzard.  In two days the tent was buried.  We kept a little airhole dug out and waited, wondering, for spring.  Wondering if he would always be a bear, forevermore, and what had caused the enchantment.  I was nine, and spent the long winter nights dreaming of when my father hadn’t been a bear.

Our friend Melanie took this picture through the sliding glass door. That’s our peanut butter he had taken out of the kitchen. Without permission.

Endorsements and Reviews

In these stunning poems, memory and myth collide. Wild horses bound, galaxies glow, time is taunted, and “the whole cliched story” of desire is rewritten with thrilling intimacy. Guerrero-Murphy’s work inhabits both the concrete and the delightfully abstract.

Speer Morgan, editor, The Missouri Review. Fall 2019.

“Madly replicating on the forest floors…”

Carol Guerrero-Murphy’s poems are earthly and unearthly, fierce and generous, and brimming with enduring meaning. In Chained Dog Dreams her brilliant “Birth Epic” illuminates the nature of giving birth as the act resists language and turns the mother herself into a warrior and survivor. The most telling moments of a life emerge with new clarity through the focusing lens of this poet’s attentive sensibility and astonishing craft.

—Lee Upton, author Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles: Poems. No Mercy won the National Poetry Series.

These gorgeous poems speak of politics, family, motherhood, animals, landscape—with the foundation of honesty, grace, and above all else, mercy. This collection is a quietly moving, deeply felt look at our vulnerable world, our vulnerable souls.

– Laura Pritchett, author Sky Bridge winner of the PEN USA award.

Guerrero-Murphy has given her readers a rhythmic and beautiful paean to a world blessed by rain, flowers, the prayer and religion of horses as well as the power and pain of family, womanhood and personal history.  These poems take the reader from desert to grassland, from the bloom of childhood to the shadow and wisdom of adult knowing, always lingering at the heart sound of redemption and grace, even in the midst of the tragic and impure. Chained Dog Dreams is the work of a poet whose soul is full, whose life is both mirror and salvation.

–Aaron Abeyta, author of 4 books of poetry including Colcha (winner Colorado Book Award and American Book Award) and the novel Rise, Do Not Be Afraid.

Table Walking at Nighthawk

https://cozine.com/2009-october/table-walking-at-nighthawk/ Review in Colorado Central Magazine

Published by Ghost Road Press, 2007, this was a Women Writing the West (WILLA) poetry award finalist. Used copies available occasionally online. And directly from the author at cdgmurphy@gmail.com

Poetry. TABLE WALKING AT NIGHTHAWK’s poetry calls on literature and memory to create an intricate and thoughtful collection that looks forward and back into an extraordinary mind. That Guerrero-Murphy is a close and fervent reader is evidenced by the poems themselves, conjured from the richest parts of experience and language to create distinctive pleasures upon the page. “In TABLE WALKING AT NIGHTHAWK, I find a deep virtue unique in American poetry now, a virtue that is also a technique raised high: the Panoramic. Guerrero-Murphy understands, and loves, the sheer scale of Time as it is lived in dear increments, of Landscape as it is carefully traversed by fragile lives. This is redemptive writing, a joy to know”–Donald Revell. ” This] fine first collection creates a compellingly complex and lyrical world infused by ancestral, mythic, and dearly familial voices that weave together the literary and the intimate”–Kathryn Winograd.

Chained Dog Dreams (Title Poem, Finishing Line Press November 2019)

Does the chained dog try to break her chain, her collar,

test which breaks first, her windpipe or the steel?

Or does the chained dog wait,

barking hunger for chow kibble,

her thirst for clean water,

her longing for the person to return?

Is the chained dog saying in the short sharp yaps,

“I’m here     I’m here     I’m here?”

If she knew how, the chained dog would write a novel,

proving that her poetic freedom can never be chained,

describing life on a farm with puddles to lap,

pole fences to skinny under, gophers to dig for;

beyond the farm a rabbity fragrant forest.

The story breaks her heart when the facts show through.