Saturday, January 28, 2012

Something New, Something Old

Little Eagle's RE / VERSE

A poet wonders; after the little mag publication, after the chap book is misplaced, after the anthology is relegated to the back stack of the university library, who will ever see my poem again? My Little Eagle Press has just begun a new website to extend the lives of those forgotten poems. Only previously published work will be posted, only some of the best work of some of the best poets operating today. The site is just beginning on its mission, but you'll get an idea of how good it's gonna be by looking at what's already at . Come back often. I think this one will find a place on your favorites list. You'll always be able to get there from the links list at this blog, too. ~RM

Monday, January 23, 2012


In this strangest of all winters here in Wisconsin, where there is very thin ice indeed, at a time when it should be solid and safe, I drag out this piece I wrote back in '06:


I lead you out onto these preliminary lines
like an old fishing buddy
walking on the season’s first thin ice,
unsure we won’t slip beneath the surface,
gulping at the depth,
but certain this is the day for keepers,
gleaming in cold silver and gulping, too,
as they slip into the sky above their homes.
I coax you toward the center of this verse,
towing tools of the trade in a little sledge
that follows on faith,
bore a hole through the fragile freeze
where we wait, shiver, wait.
I try simile, metaphor, then rhyme for bait
and I talk of patience
and barely notice the nibbling of a thought,
now hooked and struggling liquid,
muscle and tooth and blood
this idea, hungry, as a lover takes a lure,
a snap, a relaxing,
and it’s swimming free –
this thing I’ll never grasp –
hooks torn from its legendary flesh,
laughter from its lips.

Smile at me, swimmer, smile at me.

~ Ralph Murre

And this morning, reading from Pablo Neruda's Memoirs, I came upon this paragraph, about a time he spent in Russia:
"The work of writers, I say, has much in common with the work of these Arctic fishermen. The writer has to look for the river, and if he finds it frozen over, he has to drill a hole in the ice. He has to have a good deal of patience, weather the cold and the adverse criticism, stand up to ridicule, look for the deep water, cast the proper hook, and after all that work, he pulls out a tiny little fish. So he must fish again, facing the cold, the water, the critic, eventually landing a bigger fish, and another and another."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


(the song of an ancient architect)

Now that I’ve drawn the dreams, driven the stakes
destroyed deserts by division and development
crammed construction into corn-fields
built boxes in bean-fields
Now that I’ve penned the plans, fucked-up the forests
for fortune and foreclosure, plundered prairies
for profit, lost the lakeshores
Now that I’ve cantilevered cabins over cliffs and
hurried highways into hinterlands
Now that I’ve populated the pines
and peopled the pristine
Now that I’ve roofed-over the rural
Now that I’ve floored-over the flood-plain
Now that I’ve blueprinted the Blue Ridge
Now that my pencil
Now that my client
Now that the mortgage
Now that the bank
Now that the zoning
Now that the economy’s in the tank
Now that your hopes are diminished
May I rest? Am I finished?

~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Attempted Allegory

Aids to Navigation

On a fog-bound beach, a man teaching a boy to skip stones. And on the Western Sea, the elders looking back to this featureless shore where they hoped we would build beacons, where they hoped we would build fires in the night. Those voyagers, their little boats bobbing, cannot find the way back to the safe harbor of our Turtle Island. Something about ancient lessons, distant stars, something about mystery always repeating itself. The dusk is here. Oh, Mother, come back, I will build a tall lighthouse. Oh, Father, steer this way. And Son, skip your pebble well. Mark a channel for me if I should sail the Western Sea.

~ Ralph Murre

The photo is a detail from a bronze sculpture I saw in Buenos Aires. I do not know the artist. It seems, somehow, to work with this little poem. ~ RM

Monday, January 09, 2012

Its Flavor

There used to be a popular, but bizarre song which asked, "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?" Well, in recent excavations here at the old Murre digs, I came across the little poem shown above, which was written quite awhile back, on the inside of a chewing gum package, which must have been the only paper in my pocket at the time. For me, it doesn't seem to have lost its flavor. ~ RM

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Look! Out there –

just at the horizon -
the ship that carries everything
I hope for
and everything I dread.
That slow ship
that was just a dot
in the mist
seems to head this way
with the wind at her back.

~ Ralph Murre