Saturday, January 30, 2010

Meeting the Catcher

For J.D. Salinger,

who taught us to read
a star refusing stardom
chose eclipse
I don't know why him
it's a greater wonder
that so many
remain in the sky
after growing dim

~ R.M.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Vicious Cycle

photo by Sharon Auberle, I think
This loss of fitness bears witness to fine sauce and to Guiness, but is thin-ness the litmus by which we are judged? If so, I am somewhere high on the hit list, or at least, I may be witlessly grudged.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Age, That Sneaky Bastard

Is there anything that can bring you up short quite like seeing an old acquaintance or an old love after the passage of a number of years? Recently, on a drive that crossed Milwaukee's Kinnickinnic River Bridge, on South First Street, I glanced down river and was surprised to see just such an old acquaintance -- The ex U.S.E.P.A. "Roger R. Simons", ex U.S.C.G. "Maple" -- as I live and breathe, partially hidden around a bend, painted as I'd never seen her, ill-kempt, if kempt at all, but unmistakeably HER. (I know how odd it is to think of anything named "Roger" as her, but that's not today's discussion.)

When I sailed the Simons in 1976, just after receiving my sea card, she was already old, having been retired from Coast Guard service and having been pressed into use by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, for which we worked, indirectly, doing a series of research projects on Lake Michigan. We brought the little ship up to a sparkling, if dated, appearance when the company for which I worked lost their government contract due to some fluke in the language of bid-letting. I left her with great reluctance.

I saw the ship a few times after that, once when she was being refit in Sturgeon Bay, and later, up in Superior, where she was a display at the Barker's Island maritime museum for some time. Then she disappeared from that port and I assumed she'd been ignominiously treated, probably by men with cutting torches. Imagine my shock then, to see her still afloat, but bearing no name, no recent paint, her many ports covered with plywood, and generally ratty, but still with what I have always considered to be a sort of peasant-girl's beauty.

I was taken aback to see how she'd aged, until I looked in a mirror.

~ Ralph Murre
Yours truly, with deck-hand Dave Hagen, if I remember correctly; in a photo probably snapped by the mate, Larry Van Deusen. 1976.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Man of Letters

Man of Letters

K is a great one, my favorite, I suppose.
You know where you stand with K most of the time,
though there are those awkward moments of silence.

Has C ever had an original thought? C could be a politician:
if the crowd wants K, he’s all K; if the mood seems to favor S,
why, S is his Patron Saint.

V seems to be doing very well since people have stopped
confusing her with U, the little slut. I mean, is Q blind?
You never see Q out with anyone else,

but U will hop into bed with anything. Once a vowel,
always a vowel, I guess; though Y seems to be
having an identity crisis.

GH? Please! What a couple! Either standing around with
nothing to say, or quoting F, of all things! ( I think G’s the
slug; at least H does some good committee work. In fact,
her consultations with letters as diverse as S and T have
produced results that border on brilliance.)

I is a selfish bastard.

Why Z is consistently listed in last place, I’ll never know.
Good old, reliable Z. No confusion in his mind. He thinks Z
and he says Z. Even S sometimes tries to sound like Z.

Roman numerals? Just letters gone bad.
Didn’t exactly set the math world on fire, either.

- Ralph Murre

An old piece, first published in the Peninsula Pulse, and still popular in some quarters.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From the Willows

The child
confident and un-mousy
in the costume
of a caroling field mouse
advances to the stage
hits her mark
plays a small part
visiting Mole’s home
The Wind in the Willows
blowing her way

An old man
seated half-way back
in a crowded theater
wipes his eyes

The father of the father
of the child
from his seat back there
looks all the way forward
to the woman
wind blowing her way still
and the boat he
messes about in
so quickly
across the wide sea

~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

just now

just now
as the planet still spins
with its endearing little wobble
and you
with that smile
and an air of possibility
just now
I think I'd like to live
to be very old
~ r.m.