fiction, poetry & more

Second Prize
$100 Award


by F. Kevin Murphy

Holy Mary, mother of God, Theotokos,

Pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths.

We were standing in line for a meager slice of bread,

Body of Christ, given up for you.

Then the Russians came and shot us all.

There is our blood on the sidewalk,

Blood of Christ, blood of the Fall,

Poured out for you and for the forgiveness of sins,

For the forgiveness of this sin.


In Sarajevo, the rocket struck twenty-two

In line for bread, body of Christ,

Given up for you, beneath the angry sky,

Their blood poured out for you

On the broken stones of Bosnia.

In the ruins of that bakery,

Came Smailović for twenty-two days

And poured out the Adagio.




“Are you not crazy to play your cello

Where the rockets are falling every day?”

“Are they not crazy to drop their rockets

While I am playing my cello?

Where I am playing my cello?”

These ruins are sacred now

And their silence weeps on the wind.


In Mariupol there is no cellist.

City of Mary, weep for your children

Who had no Adagio for their blood,

No silence for their memory,

No bread for their hunger

And only willowed wind for breath.


Mary, full of grace and full of grief,

Blessed among women, for blessed

Is the song of your womb,

Which has borne the Saviour of our souls,  

Walk with us now among the riven stones.



Who bombs these children lying beneath the stones?

A bloody shoe here and a broken doll there.

Where there were people in line for bread,

Now only dust.


No birds sing in Mariupol,

No cello, no Adagio,

No prayer, no orison.


Even the wind

Is silent now.


Rain wets the dust.



Kevin Murphy is an infectious disease physician practicing in Reno, Nevada, on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. He has been writing poetry since high school, when he edited the student literary magazine. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, he was poetry editor of the Charles Street Review.While there, he snagged an MA in the Writing Seminars. As a medical student at UCLA , he edited the student literary rag, Plexus. His valedictory address drew the compelling connection between the Oath of Maimonides, the Hippocratic Oath, and the social responsibilities of physicians. He is clinical professor of medicine at the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine and medical advisor to Northern Nevada Public Health. His poem “On Cicero” was recently published in Visions International. He lives with his wife, Rachael, in her certified wildlife habitat with quail, doves, owls, peanut loving scrub jays, towhees, flitting finches, fey foxes, sassy squirrels and a skittish Siamese with a Scottish name.

May 2024