Pharoah Sanders Donating Blood to Buy Food, 1962

Be wary of anyone filled with confidence,

insisting that everything was better before

the world went insane, suddenly too small

to satisfy the untold exigencies we inherit.

For one thing, humankind has always been

unbalanced: people with skin in the game

seldom tire of telling us it’s good business

having the powerful slice the pie of society.

And few of us feel unfairness more keenly

than artists caught between buying bread

and selling their souls, our markets incapable

of sustaining those who bear beautiful gifts.

To create one needs to live, and staying alive

means feeding the machine, so it’s impossible

to find peace, unless you abandon your Self—

believing that The Creator Has a Master Plan.

Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and has been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. A long-time columnist for PopMatters, his work has appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, Decolonial Passage, and others. His chapbook, The Blackened Blues, was published by Finishing Line Press in July, 2021. This Kind of Man, his first collection of short fiction, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, twice for Best of Net, and his book Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone was the winner of Memoir Magazine’s 2022 Memoir Prize. He served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard, and is Founding Director of 1455, a non-profit literary organization ( To learn more, and read his published short fiction, poetry, and criticism, please visit and twitter @bullmurph.

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