Kindergarten by Matthew Murrey


“It’s boring, boring,
boring. I hate school,”
he said near tears
on the way over in the car.

Big hand, small hand:
I walked him to class,
then turned my back
and left, though he begged
in a raspy whisper—
chin and lips quivering,
eyes brimming and blinking,
“Stay longer—please
don’t leave, please.”

Like a doctor who lost
his patient, or a priest
who lost his faith,
I headed off to my job.

Before lunch at work
I was thinking of angels;
“Pity us,” I whispered
as if there were pity,
as if there were angels.


Matthew Murrey’s poems have been in One Art and other journals. Poems have recently appeared in The Shore, Whale Road Review, and EcoTheo Review. He’s an NEA Fellowship recipient, and his collection, Bulletproof, was published in 2019 by Jacar Press. He was a public school librarian for over twenty years and lives in Urbana, Illinois. His website is at and he is still on Twitter @mytwords.

Four Poems by Matthew Murrey


I still remember the wall
in The Glass Menagerie.
All it took was one light
to reveal Laura and her figurines,
another to hide her away.

Later that year, Willie Loman
going nowhere was suddenly
my father in his bent shoes,
getting in his car to go to work.
Another light, another dark.

We were sophomores when
Sister Ann Raymond took us
to the playhouse. I owe her—
and those amateurs inside
their characters, and the crews
who hammered the slats,
hung the painted cloths,
and aimed the lights.

Who would I be if I had missed
those plays with their scripts
like curtains, like gauze,
had missed those moments
when one light goes out
as another one comes on?



Rain takes the clouds apart,
leaves the trees a darker dark.
Fallen leaves fall apart,
old news in roads and yards.
My breath, that threadbare scarf,
leaves my lips and falls apart.
Who hates fall’s end, winter’s start—
the coming snow, the swelling dark?
Not the tulip bulb, not my heart.
In winter’s bed, cold and harsh,
dream of summer’s wild, green art.


Bat in the Library

Also thoughts fly
from hiding to hiding.

Corner of the eye
grabs the attention.

A book has wings:
one word, and you’re gone.

Now we see you,
now we don’t, oh

little expert of echo,
little acrobat of air.

There are rules
and risks, little outlier,

sudden eccentric in the joists.
Netted, you turn

your miniature, furred face
toward me. Let live? Let go?

My thoughts exactly—
so sorry, but no.


Light Day

I’m thinking of the stars
I can see at night

as if they were close.
They are too far

for anyone on Earth
to reach. Sirius,

bluish, bright Dog Star
I see every winter,

is one of the closest—
just eight and a half

light years away
which isn’t close at all.

The most distant probe
sent racing from Earth

over forty years ago
is leaving us faster

than ten miles a second
and yet is not quite one

light day away. Today
I am thinking of wishes

and stars—how I still love
standing in the dark

and looking up at them
as if I were eight again.


Matthew Murrey runs a high school library in Urbana, IL. He’s an NEA Fellowship recipient and his debut collection of poems, Bulletproof, was published by Jacar Press in 2019. He’s had poems published in Poetry East, Anthropocene, 2River View and many other journals. He and his partner have two grown sons. He can be found on Twitter @mytwords and his website is at