Sunday, December 31, 2006

No Pretty Picture

There'll be no pretty picture accompanying this last post of 2006, just the plea that you go over and read the Friday, December 29th entry at "Baghdad Burning", .

I would love to see us all have a Happy New Year, but that will be impossible for so many. Do I think that is all the fault of us Americans or the Damned W. ? No, of course it is not that simple, but we have played a giant's part in making things what they are today, whether by design or staggering ignorance, or both. We ALL KNOW that the real reason for this war was that George Sr. had unfinished business with Saddam, who was quite certainly an evil man. "W" had to protect the family's honor. Now that Saddam has left us, Texas-style, can we find a way to mend broken eggs? Can we at least begin healing in 2007? Blessed are the peace makers, as it is written; let us deserve that blessing.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, December 29, 2006

Off the Bus

photo by Laura Murre

Though I was not born in the backseat of a Greyhound Bus, nor even in the back of the Model "A" Ford panel truck which served as the family transport in those days, I do enjoy a bit of ramblin' from time to time. Just back now from a most pleasant journey which included some holiday visiting with family and friends, some glum weather, some food and drink, some solitary wandering on a frozen lake. Memorable conversation. Unforgettable smiles.

And the joy of the road. Oh, not the faceless fourlane that made up a lot of the trip, due to the need to get along across the state and a bit of the next, but the little, broken-backed winders that I love to jog off to when I can. The roads that lead slowly past the tumbledown farms, all their possessions out in the air, like books with their covers torn off. Stories right out in plain sight. The two '66 Chev pick-ups, one with its hood open, cannibalizing the other, which lies on its side in defeat. Both near-overgrown with burdock and nettle. The ancient manure spreader, its chain apron broken in mid-field, still half-loaded and with ten year old brush growing in it. Dead tractors and the rusted implements they once pulled, their uses now all but forgotten. The tidy and simple house next door without electrical wiring, its neat outbuildings, the Amish buggy in the yard.

And the collections. A row of Massey-Harris tractors. A lot full of Pontiac Firebirds. Steam threshing engines. Sheds covered with antlers and hubcaps. And, if you're very, very lucky, there may still be a little cafe with walls of grease and calendars, tended by two old women, one permanently hunched over the grill, the other, plump and cheerful in spite of being the last of her kind, serving good pie and weak coffee and allowing that it feels like snow's a-comin'. Order the mincemeat, strike up a talk - this could be your last chance. Ask about the abandoned one-room schoolhouse down the road, the abandoned cheese factory across the street. The abandoned dreams she once dreamed. Tip her well and consider yourself fortunate.

You will be richer upon your return.

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, December 23, 2006


phoenix sculpture by Adrian Murre

and angels will sweep 'round
their great wings holding light
and a radiance gather on earth
and copper brothers and golden sisters
and alabaster and ebony join
and the fox will walk with the hen
and fur-wrapped arctic women
dance with naked south-sea men
and you with me, and you with me

and three kings will ride out
to visit a new star
and renounce all unearned monarchy
and ship's carpenters and guitar players
and native princes and nurse's aides sing
and the hawk will fly with the dove
some may forget their injury
and a few may learn to love
and the drowning will be kissed by the sea

and icons will be painted
with halos of gold leaf
and most saints won't be sainted
most gods will beg belief

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

snowless at solstice

the winter enters
with its dark coat unbuttoned
walking through these pines
- arem

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I hold you so closely and long
and tell you that you are not old
and tell you that after the dance
we will sneak off to the orchard
and lie together
beneath the blossoms
beneath the stars
and that sliver of moon
will make us crazy
for each other
and we will be very, very young

- Ralph Murre

Thursday, December 14, 2006

beside my self

photos by Eddee Daniel, I believe

I got to thinking, this morning, about that phrase, "I was beside myself - with joy, anxiety, fear, etc." Nobody, it seems to me, talks about being beside himself with schizophrenia. I seem to remember that Lara was beside herself when she learned that Zhivago was in town. Anyway, I wondered a little about where the phrase came from and how it might have been originally used. I went to Google, that sum of all human knowledge, and learned this:

"Beside" was formerly (15th through 19th centuries) used in phrases to mean "out of a mental state or condition, as 'beside one's patience, one's gravity, one's wits'" (Oxford Engl. Dict.), and that use survives only in "'beside oneself': out of one's wits, out of one's senses."

"Beside himself. Why do we describe a distraught person as being 'beside himself'? Because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was 'beside himself.' This same thought is to be found in 'out of his mind'; and in 'ecstasy' too. 'Ecstasy' is from the Greek and literally means 'to stand out of.'" From "Dictionary of Word Origins" by Jordan Almond (Carol Publishing Group, Secaucus, N.J., 1998)

Well, there you have it, direct from Secaucus, N.J. - one of my favorite place names, right behind Hohocus, N.J. and Knob Lick, Mo. (But the mind wanders.)

Anyway, I thought that I've been feeling rather beside myself lately, in a multiple personality disorder sort of way. That is, all those different people that I've been, seem to be banging into each other in a rather annoying fashion. Little Eagle kicking Arem Arvinson in the shins. Van Ro and Skinny drunk and disorderly at Ralphie's Bar & Grille. It used to be easier to keep them all in their little compartments, their time frames, but now that I'm getting a bit older, everyone is just running willy-nilly. (Not a place name so far as I know, but it would be good.)

It used to be easier, too, to keep in compartments the Indian scout/farm boy, the art student/boilermaker, the boatbuider/land surveyor, the house carpenter/motorcycle racer, the glass blower/architect, the mariner/poet/dreamer, the husband/lover, the father/grandfather/doddering fool. But it's getting tougher all the time and the writer doesn't seem to care. The writer likes being beside all of these selves. And today, the writer is in ecstasy.

- Ralph Murre

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


You tell me you want to be a prophet
and I'll admit it sounds glamorous,
but I'm not so sure they're hiring.
Let's look in the classifieds, I say,
and when there are no ads,
There will be, you tell me.
Your first prophecy, maybe,
except that you were wrong
about what time you'd be home last night.

You tell me you want to be a prophet
and I want to be supportive,
but even when prophecy was all the rage
I wonder how well they were paid
and did they have full dental coverage?
And I'm sure New Year's Eve is busy
and you could pick up some pocket change
at birthdays and bar mitzvahs, but
you can't raise a family on that.

You tell me you want to be a prophet
and I say O.K., but what about schooling?
And you say there's a place in California
and they'll open one soon in Vermont
and not to worry, Dad, I'll find work
on Wall Street, probably, or
in a wedding chapel somewhere in Reno,
and I can see you've thought this through.
If you foresee Derby winners, let me know.

- Ralph Murre

Monday, December 11, 2006


It has been kindly brought to my attention that people have been unable to leave comments for postings on this blog. I don't know how it happened, but I think I found the problem and have corrected it. Comment away! You'll still have to type in a group of letters which will appear in wierd print near the end, before you'll be able to post a comment. Sorry. If all else fails, or if you'd rather not have my millions (or at least tens, I think) of fans read your comment, email me at caparem(at) . Of course, you know you'll have to replace the (at) with the cool little @ symbol.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Season

Like gondoliers on rooftops, we have to wonder from time to time, just what we're doing here. And I'm talking about the first world, know-where-our-next-meal's-comin'-from we. Hungry third-world types are off the hook. And I have no idea who's in the second world, or where to find it. No, I'm talking to myself, and those like me, with two cars and a garage to put 'em in, motorcycles and boats and vcr's and dvd's and ira's and nbc's. I'm talking about renting storage units to keep our STUFF. I'm talkin' about running huge diesel tractors to grow sunflower seeds to feed the birds so we can feel good about our ecological awareness.

What the hell are WE doing on this earth? I write this after looking at ad's for things I want, but have no need for, for several hours., stuff like that. I look at competing species, and find that the pack rat is running in such a distant second place that he should withdraw. Oh, he's mildly acquisitive, but please - he likes a bit of shiny stuff, but has never enslaved anyone to mine diamonds for him. He has no snowmobile or 4x4. Not only doesn't he use fossil fuels, he doesn't use ANY, aside from what he eats. No, I think the planet would be doing just fine if pack rats and rattlesnakes were its big problems.

We, on the other hand, seem impossible to satisfy. And when we can't find what we think we need, we see therapists who drive Mercedes'. Preachers in Armani. Bankrupcy lawyers in Gold Coast suites. Spend a few hundred thou to educate the kids we never had time for. Sit at computers ranting on our blogs about the sorry state of the world today. Plan a trip to the mountains, the seashore, the mall. Of course, we can't go dressed like THIS, can we?

Do I have a point here? Well, that IS my point, of course - but I have to suppose that it's not by coincidence that I'm writing this as we enter the most sacred season of consumerism. Yes, I will be shopping for those near and dear, in the vague hope that yet more stuff will draw us closer, that I'll see that little glint in your eye one more time, that we'll be HAPPY. But if you don't shop for me, I think I'll be alright. Maybe we'll share a meal, or a drink, or a thought.

- Ralph Murre

Monday, December 04, 2006

with the same eyes

with the same eyes
through the same glass
the same moon
full again, but
never so full as
when you were in its light
never that color
we couldn't name
illuminating our embrace
and all of me
all of you

- arem

Friday, December 01, 2006


even this snowfall
sifted on my bamboo chime
cannot hide the loss
- arem