Tuesday, January 31, 2006

winter wood

her gown of white lace,
unruffled by shivering --
bold, boreal bride
- arem

Thursday, January 26, 2006


The Deer and the Antelope,
on Iconic Speech

White bread.

Apple pie.

Hot dog. “He was a real hot dog.” Well, surely he wasn’t a . . . hot . . . dog . . . and even if you figure out that it’s a suggestive sandwich with a sausage, that can’t be the real meaning either, can it? Rest assured, though, that a hot dog is not a cool cat.

Home run, pinch hit, touchdown, etc. etc. etc.

If I say ‘the deer’, it means the deer, if I say, ‘the antelope’, it means the antelope. But if I say ‘the deer and the antelope’, I’ve suddenly taken you onto the vast plains of the American West. Thundering herds of buffalo. (And forget that bison crap, we all know they’re buffalo). Under the starry sky above, Bill Cody sits by a lonely campfire.

If I say ‘cable car’, you can almost taste the sourdough bread, or at least the Rice-a-Roni. Tony Bennett is just around the corner. Fog rolls in. If I say clang, clang, clang; Rosemary Clooney, or somebody, is having her heartstrings zinged.

If I say ‘spotted owl’, a war breaks out between tough, grizzly types in hob-nailed boots and a group of elderly flower-children.

I say ‘flower-child’, and we’re right back in San Francisco, ca. 1968.

1968, and it’s Chicago and Mayor Daley is bustin’ heads. Milwaukee means beer. Detroit means cars; big ones, chrome-plated, and what’s good for G.M. is good for the country, and I’m back to Apple Pie. And Chevrolet.




Three Mile Island and the Exxon Valdez.


Twin Towers.

Hiroshima. . . . Holocaust. . . .‘Nam.

“Yer yeller!” “He’s a red, but he’s singin’ the blues, ‘cause he’s still kinda green.”

Green beret.

Ever wonder what people said before “redneck”? How did we know what to think about a state before it became red or blue?

Osama. Lenin and Marx. Lennon and McCartney. Johnny Cash and Johnny Carson and Johnny B.Good and Michael Moore.

Bush and born again and abortion and beat and hip and hep.


Marilyn and Madonna and Martha and Madonna & Child and Oprah. Venus on the Half-Shell and the Sistine Chapel and the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of Pisa. Katrina. Tsunami. The Golden Gate.

I suppose every society has these shorthand references which convey volumes of information, whether it’s the plum blossom of haiku, the cartoon of Nixon’s “V”, or the sight of an SUV – still, I wonder what future generations will make of it all when they try to read some mouldering documents found in the ruins of our time. I’m assuming that someone, somewhere will be able to read. I’m assuming ruin.

- Ralph Murre

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Save on Airfare!


There are these places I’ve never been
but know like the back of my mind
These Isla Negra’s
These Nebraska’s
These Walden’s
I can commute so freely
drink the wine of their vineyards
so cheaply
be engaged
by the spirits of the ocean’s roar
so fully
I need not shop
for airline tickets
to taste their salt
nor ride a bus
to touch the sandstone
of their schools
to wade in the cool mud with muskrats
to hear the cries of the gulls

- Ralph Murre

Walden. Okay.
Nebraska. Maybe.
Isla Negra. Hmm, I don't know about that.
The water spins the other way down there. Even the stars are different.
- that from a friend in response. Point is, with a Neruda or a Kooser or a Thoreau singing the song of a place, should I think that my senses will glean something more? Or, should I open my eyes, look about me, and write the song of where I am? I don't know. I look down to an earlier post (the sacred and the sold-out) , and I see that I'll have to sing the song of where I am without TELLING where I am.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I keep hoping that some of my old rants will become passe, but the wheels turn exceeding slow. Here's one from about a year ago :

Blame Less

It’s just too damned easy to blame George W. Bush for the war, too damned easy to blame him for all of our problems. What is he but the figurehead under the bowsprit of our capitalism, under the headsail of our greed?

It’s money that steers our ship and oil that floats it. The sea of oil is going dry and money doesn’t know where to turn. We have a hard time thinking how to save the sea, so we think in terms of carving a new figurehead.

It is not George W. Bush, or his pals in OPEC, forcing us to drive where we could walk, forcing me to ride my motorcycle where I could ride my bicycle; it is not Ford Motor Company forcing you to take your Expedition where you could take your Focus.

Will there be enough fuel left for the ambulance to haul my exercise-hating butt to the hospital?

Should I drive 40 miles to work out at the Y?

Easy, too, to lay blame for the difficulties on states whose people voted a couple per cent differently than our own; “What could those idiots be thinking?”. They must be fools, right, those people who believe in something other than men, something other than politicians? Why, some of them even suggest that there may be a (G)od. Simply inferior beings, those folks from other-colored states.

Easy to see there are no problems here in our blue-nosed, blue-blooded, blue-stockinged regions – well, none we can’t solve with money.

Sail on, Banker! Steady as she goes! Only the blameless aboard our stout vessel. Let us fly a blue flag from the main topmast, for guiltless are we, we men of the open sea! Look smart there, Sailor! Wipe that oil from your boot!

The lookout tells of dangerous shoals ahead – shall we listen, instead, to that sharply-chiseled face at the prow, the gilded wood we’ve elected?

Buffy Ste. Marie (about 40 years ago) said, “ Blame the Indians/ Blame the Fates/ Blame the Jews or your Sister Kate/ Teach your children who to hate/ and the big wheel goes around, ‘round.”

Sail on, oh Ship of State! We’re just the crew; here to take orders and eat our ration.

No one to blame here.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, January 13, 2006



with crosses
or crescents
or crows
or crowned
with beacons
that blink
in the night;
they are the same.
We build
towers and totems
to find our way back
to ancestors
and faith
and safe harbor.
Like initials carved
in old beech trees,
they tell
where we’ve been,
who we’ve loved,
and where hearts
have found homes.
We take a walkabout
or a moonwalk;
paddle down streams
and sail across oceans,
testing our symbolism -
the lighthouse shining
after storms at sea,
the good mother welcoming
the child who’s been away,
the sturdy oak
sheltering the weeping willow.
The tower of strength,
never casting the shadow of a doubt.

- Ralph Murre

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Silver Lining

Yes, I know -- global warming is a VERY BAD THING -- but I will confess to having thoroughly enjoyed a 25-mile motorcycle ride today. In Wisconsin. In January.
Did me more good than a pocketful of anti-depressants.

Angel Head 2.5

I'm proud to announce that some of my work has found on-line publication at ANGEL HEAD, a recently-begun, but rather classy, poetry ezine. It's editor is the Englishman, Bruce Hodder, formerly of the print journal "Blue Frederick" and capable writer of the blog "Suffolk Punch".
Suffolk Punch, it turns out, is the name of a breed of workhorse; an apt comparison to Hodder. As far as I can tell, he works a full-time job, blogs much of the day and night, writes a bunch of good poetry, and knocks out the odd novel in his spare time.
I know the sun's up about six hours earlier in England, but I still don't see that I should get so little done, by comparison.
Anyway -- go now to visit http://bkerouac.tripod.com/angelheadfebruary2006
and http://bluefredpress.blogspot.com

Friday, January 06, 2006

let there be light

pewter sky and sea
january's heirloom gifts
lie shattered by light
- arem

Thursday, January 05, 2006

haiku basics

these are the first five
of seventeen syllables
and these are the last
- arem

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


thin pants remembered
city job so long ago
icy bus stop bench

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Running Things

Running Things

Another year
Another chance to get it right
To do the things I shoulda done
Tear down that fence I built
Quit the party
Let running things run

Another wave rolls up the beach
Tumbles stones
Polishes what survives
Shorebirds – hungry – rush
Consume the dazzled on the sands
End the safe, crustacean lives

Another day
Another chance to see the light
To see the clouded, rising sun
Copper flame in pewter bowl
Embrace the certain, coming toll
Or be a running thing, and run

- Ralph Murre