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

Sunday, November 26, 2006

other places

a little journey to somewhere else
a look into the sky, a stranger's eye
another spider's imperfect web --
a weary road beneath the tires
a hard worn air beneath the wing
another experienced motel bed --
and home, the sheltering gable
and home, the well-laid table
a familiar hue, a look into the heart
overhanging pine and a familiar sky
though gray, my own gray geese fly

- ralph murre

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Eat, drink and whisper a prayer of thanks. It's o.k. if you don't believe that anyone hears prayers. And it's o.k. to be merry.

- Arem

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Arvinson Anniversary

Detail of a photo by Nancy Vaughn

Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of this blog, and I look through the archives wondering what it is, just as I wondered what it might be on the day of its inception. It has become a part of me, I suppose, and like the rest of me, must seem a little peculiar to a new acquaintance.

Who is this Arem Arvinson, for instance? I first met him a few years ago and found that we had some things in common, including this body and this skull we share. Even his name, Arem, is pronounced like my initials: R.M., and my dad was named Arvin. Just where he came from is uncertain, but he seeks to counsel the neophyte writer in me - and to influence me in other areas - for which I must be on my guard.

Arem is the sort of guy who buys motorcycles instead of life insurance, has a bar tab instead of a savings account, would take a lover instead of a wife, believes in everything, worships nothing, has salt water and hot blood in his veins, and writes better haiku in a few seconds than I ever will in a lifetime. He's more at ease on a tops'l yard in a gale than he is at a dinner party and while I fear him, I also envy him.

When I can get him to talk, this blog will be about his voyage; when he's silent, I'll keep filling in with bits from my own mundane journey.

- Ralph Murre

A few notes: Photos and art (?) not otherwise credited are by the author. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Many more entries can be found in the archives (it could be a long winter). Visit some of the sites in my links area, over there on your right. Comments may be left by clicking "comments" at the end of each entry, but can only be accepted if you type in a code of letters which will appear in wierd print just above the box where you'll type them. This is to beat the Evil Spammers. You can also email me at caparem(at), but you must substitute the "@" symbol for "(at)". This, too, is to beat the Evil Spammers, who should all die.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


with sky in its arms
the tortured gold tamarack
holds a blue lover
- arem

The Dark

As the dark tea of November
pours from a tarnished silver pot
life is slowly sipped
bitter dinner of winter dreaded
brief sweet of holidays anticipated
and daylight, oh God
the last shred of daylight
must be chewed from the bare bone
and savored.
- Ralph Murre

Monday, November 13, 2006


She carried a single rose
to this ceremony,
as they all did,
but she knew its value,
carried it close,
shared its beauty with few.

Of the windblown meadow
and tangled wood, this flower,
of the salt sea and earth.
And into his unsteady hand
she placed this rose,
trusted the touch of the gardener,
the trembling jaws of the wolf.

And the wind blew the grass
and sang of love to the pines,
just as though this was the way
the world had always been.

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Eleven, Eleven

When serious November strikes deep scars
into chicken soup can Warhol souls
and limping veterans of endless wars
fire salutes to motherhood and political goals,
look within.

When the last of Summer’s fleecy clouds have past
and the gray ground freezes over graves,
when slaves are dreaming “Free at Last”,
and when the chief fails to mourn his fallen braves,
look within.

When you hear “don’t raise your sons to be cowboys”,
or “don’t take your guns to town”,
or when the crying won’t drown the noise
of another soldier stumbling down,
look within.

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Light

there is a new light
in the tangled wood today
the wolf hesitates
- arem

Monday, October 30, 2006

In Dark Forest

In the depth of the sky,
I see you.
In sunlight on water,
you are there.
In dark forest,
your heart.
In my breathing
and my waking
and my sleep,
- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Course

Staying Course

Like smoke, some of our energy
darkens the sky.
Sooty stack of America’s ship,
emblem carried above rusting hull,
casting about oceans without harbor.
Unwelcome, the fouled air.
Unneeded, the roiled waters.
Listing to starboard,
she plows on,
her crew eyeing lifeboats,
her captain holding course.

- Ralph Murre

Monday, October 23, 2006

take y'self a look

take y’self a long look
write y’self a long book
get an agent ‘n’ go on t.v.

tell ‘em how yer ma was unkind
how yer seein’-eye dog was blind
get a divorce ‘n’ go on t.v.

shoot some lefties, shoot some southpaws
shoot some Indians ‘n’ shoot yer in-laws
get a pardon on court t.v.

disappear from the public eye
wait for the popular hue and cry
run for office ‘n’ go on t.v.

- Ralph Murre

Monday, October 16, 2006


There is Music in the Sailor

and there is music in the sea
and there is music in the cedars
and in the tall grasses
and in fishes and me

and sometimes we hear the music
and we dance or we weep
with the emotional willows
trot with foxes, waltz with waves

and we may swim with swans
and hear rhythms in ravens’ wings
tremble with the aspen
fear the diving of the hawk

or we may never learn the tango
or we may learn to fear the clock

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, October 11, 2006



Like the twitchy second hand
mopping the brow of my Timex
and always pointing at something new,
I’ve gone ‘round the dial
and looked in all directions.

Tick Tick Tick

And people ask what time it is,
just as though they want to know.

Tick Tick

They take seats and I tell them,
“It’s a little too late for you --
take note of the length of your shadow,
see the birds that roost,
and feel the wear in the arms of your chair.”

Tick Tick

And people buy new watches
and look for a second opinion there.


- Ralph Murre

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

October Dream

photo by Nancy Vaughn

I dreamed of a place without fences
and the women and the trout swam free
and sheep safely grazed
under the watchful eyes of wolves
and I dreamed red maples
bled syrup on platoons’ pancakes
and farm wives with rolling pins
and blue aprons ruled the waves.
I dreamed you were a wading bird
with an appetite just the size
of my pale crustacean body and mind
as I swam between your legs
and back without caution
and I dreamed of the hills
only the blind can see
and I tasted frost-bit apples
from the broken tree of good and evil.
In the dark, I dreamed of the dark.
I dreamed of hell
but there were no fires.
In fact, it was raining cold rain.
I dreamed of hell
and there were armies
shipping home trinkets and the slain.
And in this hell of a dream
there were papers to be filed,
there was nowhere to walk,
and no one was ever on time.
I dreamed of hell
and you were not there
and no one helped carry the pain.

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Planet Earth (Detail)

With every day's bad news, it's so easy to feel that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and maybe it is, but I find some bit of peace by looking closer. Looking beneath the strata populated by humans. I look at the natural world, and I can not find evil. There are, of course, cataclysmic events throughout nature -- earthquakes and tsunamis, droughts and floods and hurricanes and wildfires and all the rest -- but there doesn't seem to be greed, and there is certainly no religion. As humans, some of us take pride in proclaiming that we are a species set apart, above all others. I won't argue with that belief, though I do not share it. It is true that we have powers to create good and bad on a scale that we haven't observed in other species.

But get yourself out of the man-made for just a bit; look at the square meter of earth beneath your feet, and understand that it is older and perhaps wiser, than the human race. Can I assign wisdom to dirt? Knowledge to rocks? Does the bit of dandelion fluff carried on the summer breeze know as much about a satisfying life as I do? Yes, yes.

Look up to the stars and look down to the dirt you sweep from your doorstep and know that they are the same and that you and your human brethren are the same, also. Believe whatever you do about who or what created all this, but don't build churches to convince others of your beliefs. Don't tell others they're wrong. You don't know. And if you don't know, why start a war? If you don't KNOW ( and I suspect that you've never been to heaven or hell ) why enslave yourself to an institution commanded by people who also don't know? Who are committed to destroying races of people who also don't know? I am not a nature writer, but I am an observer of the natural world, and if there is one lesson I've learned from my observations, it is that there is no religion in nature and it is religion that sets humans apart and causes the greatest sufferings. I am becoming a great believer in gods and spirits of all types, but I don't believe that they go to church.

Look to the dirt.

- Ralph Murre

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Back in our drive after 1500 miles of discovery
and recovery from the tameness that's called life.
Some bruises and some smiles, some aching and
some joy, and the road. The long road of husband,
wife. Thank the spirits that you know and thank
the ones you don't if there's just a little aching and
some joy and husband, wife. Beware of too much
tameness, and thank the spirits for the road, and
please thank the one you're with for sharing life.

winding pavement
a remembrance of lives
shared in the wind

- arem

Friday, September 22, 2006

note to mice:

play on, little mice
enjoy your cat's away games
this feline's homebound
- arem

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Looks like Nancy Lee and I will escape
this corner of paradise for a while
via motorcycles and ferry boats
to visit three Great Lakes
and the two Mighty Nations
that lie along their shores.
Keep the homefires burning.
- arem

Thursday, September 07, 2006


A full moon
and a glass of wine
a full heart
and a wandering mind
September night
- arem

Friday, September 01, 2006

east wind

bluster of east wind
brushes her white hair backward
angry mother lake
- arem

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Too long held apart
Streams overflow earthen dams
Join in hidden woods
Their colored waters
And follow their gravity
As one river strong enough
To carry burdens
Strong enough the mingled flow
To roll on unstopped
To sea-level finality
No escape but to evaporate
And begin again raining
On the Red River and the Yellow
On Mississippi delta blues
And on the Blue Nile
And the Blue Danube
On the Laughing Whitefish
And the sadness of the Seine
On the Wisconsin
And the O-hi-o

An old idea, returning to the sea
An old idea, you and me

- Ralph Murre

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006


I had the rare good fortune, Friday evening, to attend a performance by AvantRetro, the poetry and music duo of Charles Rossiter and Al DeGenova. These guys are the real thing, folks -- great poetry, full of what has been and what is, with hints of what will be -- all presented in a terrific, entertaining manner, with accents of well-wrought jazz and blues riffs accentuating all. I'd had the opportunity to hear Al solo before, which was very good, but the combination of these two is just that much better.

Friday's perfomance was at Milwaukee's oddly-named but terrifically good Woodland Pattern Book Center, where even the open-mike readings were mighty impressive, and the collection of poetry books on hand is -- I'm running out of superlatives here -- very, very large.

If you have the chance to hear AvantRetro live, go hear them. Or get their CD (cleverly titled "AvantRetro") Or buy their book, "Back Beat". Listen to Charles Rossiter's audio website, and buy Al DeGenova's journal of Chicago writing and art, after hours.

Does any of this sound like I might have enjoyed myself on Friday night? Well, yes, my friends, I guess I did.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Someone who is very close to me thinks that self-portrait in my last posting looks nothing like me and suggests that "it is just plain scary". The fact that it looks the way I feel much of the time is, apparently, of no consequence.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Give and Take

in the bright honesty
of the forest clearing
and the dappled dark trail
give me your hand

in the questioning gaze
of the crowded cafe
and rose-windowed cathedral
your smile

to the unnamed color
of the rolling wave crest
and sunlight in canyons
take my heart

and beyond and beyond
all of me

- ralph murre

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Forgotten Lessons

The way we are pulled
across the surface of years
by hidden gods and loves
illustrated for us as children
by patient teachers in gray suits
their magnets manipulating
mindless filings of metal

The sense of balance
needed for the seesaw
of meeting and mating
misunderstood in the equations
in pale yellow chalk on blackboards
Algebraic equilibrium
of lasting elations

The ceaseless motion
of the drifting continents
rushing across oceans
to find each other’s embrace
Island nations falling away
avoiding tectonic collisions
in the peace of the sea

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I cannot find the pen with honest ink
there is something false
in the color of this paper
and even the glow of this lamp
must be questioned
are you so sure you want what's real?
I could tell a nice story
and I see there are a few
left to be told
it would have a happy ending
and we could sleep warm
on clean pillows and bedtime kisses
and dream dreams
but if I find the pen with honest ink
it may say things that keep us up
and the better light
may show too much of me
the paper that is true is easily torn
and I don't want the sound of ripping
to be the last thing we hear

this is the paper for this story
and I like this unsteady lamp
I cannot find the pen with honest ink

-Ralph Murre

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I get a little panicky on those days when no writing appears, let alone anything approaching poetry. Last night I was reading from Rainer Maria Rilke, who helped put things into perspective:

"In order to write a single verse, one must see many cities, and men and things; one must get to know animals and the flight of birds, and the gestures that the little flowers make when they open out to the morning. One must be able to return in thought to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected encounters, and to partings that had been long foreseen; to days of childhood that are still indistinct, and to parents whom one had to hurt when they sought to give one some pleasure which one did not understand (it would have been a pleasure to someone else) : to childhood's illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave tansformations, to days spent in rooms withdrawn and quiet, and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to oceans, to nights of travel that rushed along loftily and flew with all the stars -- and still it is not enough to be able to think of all this. There must be memories of many nights of love, each one unlike the others, of the screams of women in labour, and of women in childbed, light and blanched and sleeping, shutting themselves in. But one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in a room with open windows and with fitful noises. And still it is not yet enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many and one must have the immense patience to wait until they come again. For it is the memories themselves that matter. Only when they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves -- only then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mysterious Ways

That last post and my accompanying drawing got me to wondering -- why do we always depict the Big G God in robes? I mean, why would he wear clothes at all? What would he have to hide, and from whom? And if he's not comfortable with the temperature, well, why not? If you've got the funds for gold pavement, surely a thermostat wouldn't break the bank.

Mysterious ways indeed. And another thing -- even if he does wear clothes -- (and I'm not conceding that) why would he still be wearing robes? Don't you think he'd be into t-shirts with slogans? "Thou Shalt Not Blog About the Lord Thy God In Vain" . . . something along those lines?

Of course, very little clothing is still being produced in the Judeo-Christian portions of the world, so that could present a problem. Wouldn't do to be asking Allah or one of the other Big Boys for some new raiment, now would it?

Could be that the robes he has (white, mostly, with a sprinkling of purple and gold), if he has any, have simply never worn out and he's never seen the need to replace them. Floating around in clouds probably doesn't produce a great deal of wear & tear. Yeah, I suppose that's it. A frugal God, and no slave to fashion. I kinda like that.

- Ralph Murre

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Good Lord, a Triolet!

This came my way recently:

Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther
by A.E. Stallings

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

to which I reply:

Why should the Good Lord get all the churches?
The mighty pipe organs and heavenly choirs,
The brimstone from pulpits, the deaconly lurches?
Why should the Good Lord get all the churches?
Does he laugh at our salvation wild goose searches?
Does he like knowing he's got the loftiest spires?
Why should the Good Lord get all the churches?
Still, they only have candles, and hell has got fires!

- Ralph Murre

Monday, July 03, 2006


photo by Nancy Vaughn


yes to the ocean
yes to the mountain
yes to its rushing stream
yes to the prairie and daylight
yes to the night and stars
yes to the coins in the fountain
yes to the one with a dream
yes to the grass
in the cracked concrete
yes to strangers in bars
yes to the blue sky
yes to the blues
yes to the woman
at the store
yes to the ones doing dishes
yes to the clean-mopped floor
yes to the one making music
yes to the one making do
yes to the thin green candle
yes to the thin green tree
and yes to the forest
yes to the bird and the bee
yes to the fish in the pond
yes to the fish in the sea
yes, yes, oh yes
to the iris
yes to its drop of dew
yes to the multitude
yes to the few
yes, yes, mmm-hmmm
yes to you
yes to you

- Ralph Murre

Though I just wrote this, it doesn't sound like me. It does sound vaguely familiar, as if I've read or heard something like it, but I can't think where. So if this sounds too much like something else, let me know.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

now that you ask

she loves me, she
loves me not, you ask
well, sure
I suppose both
I suppose neither
but she might
but will she love me
song writers ask
not bloody likely
comedians answer
from the high tight wire
with no net
it's not so important
that you know, you know
and if she tells
it's just a guess, you know
leave the door ajar
leave her come, leave her go
and she might
- ralph murre

Tuesday, June 27, 2006



Just be
Leave us be
We’re being
human beings
Being human
Being cool
Can’t just let you be
Don’t just let me be
Not easy to be me
Easy to be
or not to be, fool
Be there for you
I’ll be there
Be square
Be minus
Be flat, Major
Just be. Boys will be
Be yourself
Be you
Be, but be on time
Be good
or be careful
but be, Baby

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

going lightly

like stonehenge on solstice,
things line up sometimes.
dim notions, illuminated,
go lightly
to illogic conclusion,
are mirrored.
eyes divert.
pale flesh,
so long covered,
is so easily burnt.

- Ralph Murre

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Real Ralph Murre

I was in business machine repair, y'know? Mechanical typewriters -- Smith-Corona -- Remington -- Underwood. But my real calling, my love, was adding machines. No chance of them telling stories, just numbers, y'know? Any number you could think, cleanly printed in black, or if things weren't going so well, you could print in red -- no doubt, there, about what the hell is this guy talkin' about? -- black and red numbers, that's all, like roulette, y'know?

Geez, my beer's gettin' empty here.

Yeah, numbers -- good numbers, bad numbers, what else you need to know, huh? Red numbers. Black numbers. You type 'em in and pull that big lever, KERCHUNK, and the answer to your question is right there. Beautiful. Flat-assed beautiful.

Say, how 'bout you catch this one, huh?

Then some G'dam college asshole comes along 'n' invents a buncha e-lec-tronic bullshit 'n' I'm out of a job. Best damned adding machine man in six counties 'n' I'm out of a job like that -- Pfffft! I studied up 'n' worked on 8-track tape machines and Beta video players for a while. Now what the hell I'm s'posed to do, huh?

Hey, mud in your eye, appreciate the beer.

- Ralph Murre

Sunday, June 11, 2006


If there's anyone out there who reads this blog regularly, I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that I'll be attending a writers' workshop all week. Yes, I've tried it before, but it didn't take. Maybe this time.

- RM

No, the picture has nothing to do with this post, but I thought it was kinda pretty-like.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sunday, June 04, 2006


ER!, indeed! There I was, lads, peacefully thumpin' down the high road, and doin' a bit of pipin', all jolly like, don't y' know, when me finger jammed up into the throttle o' me trusty Enfield, and I about to round the bend in the rosy, rosy mornin' out at the Widow MacDowell's. And her, of course, just shifting her little herd to the upper pasture. I'd no choice, lads, but to pipe me mightiest in the hope that the sheep and the comely widow would take warnin', but it was nae to be. Me pipin' and the bleatin' o' the sheep blended in a kind o' rapturous melody tha' would o' melted the heart o' any true Scot, and I's forced to abandon the roadway and rough it through the heather, all the while a-tryin' to slow the merry pace o' me mount, but the Enfield, as though wi' a mind o' her own, reeled onward toward the widow's cottage. Me front tyre lost an argument wi' a wee bit o' a rock, lads, and somersaulted me person ri' through the widow's open shutters and I alit, lads, in her downy bed wi' nary a scratch! Nary a scratch, that is, until the widow comes in, and her a-hungerin', it bein' so long since old Robbie MacDowell past, and I, wi' me kilt all up around me middle and still clutchin' me pipes -- well I tell you true, lads, I did me very best to resist her advances, but in the end, I took pity on the poor lass, and stayed wi' her a fortnight or two, just 'til things had calmed a bit, y'see. I'll no doubt ha' to go ba' and check on her well bein' now, after jus' one more wee taste. Ah, me finger's fine lads, disengaged as I took flight.
- arem arvinson

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Is it time yet? Time to head out to the graveyard with a few geraniums; our dues to deaths well died, if not lives well lived?

. . . yeah, here's a geranium, got a good price on it at wal-mart - specials all over but they still had the best price - thanks a lot, by the way, for diein' & all - diein' for the U.S.A. - at least you can feel good about that. christ, how'd you feel if you died for nam, or germany, or japan, or goddam france, or some fucked-up desert full of oil for chrissake? that'd be a bummer. oh yeah, forgot that your kid's over there now. well, gotta go - three day week-end & all - goin' back down to wal-mart to buy a new grille. everyday low prices, man. yeah, it's made in china, but that's how it goes. looks like i'll have to get more geraniums next year. holy shit. florists must be cleanin' up, man . . .

Saturday, May 27, 2006

evening song

and the sea rolls away
to the west
to the west
where the day is young
and we watch it roll
as it's followed by the sun
- - -
and the dark wells up
all around
all around
this place where we stand
with all of our fears
oh let me take your hand
- - -
- Ralph Murre

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ready? w/update

Ready to head out coast-to-coast, and I don't just mean across our skinny little peninsula. Well, I don't really mean Atlantic - Pacific, either. No, we'll head from home base on the shores of Lady Lake and have an overdue visit with Old Man River. Bicoastal Wisconsin style. We'll travel back roads where we can and try to rediscover ourselves and our state, with an eye for real women who serve great pies and lousy coffee. Are there any left? Will report.

While on the muddy, muddy banks, we'll help celebrate a 70th wedding anniversary (!). Yes, seven - oh.! and they're still very cool people. Don't ask me how the hell that works, life is full of mysteries. Here's to Lorna and Pete, flowing like a river. Roll on, roll on.

And the rest of you - turn off your damned computers, close your books, and go LIVE.

Later, -R.


Real Women - lots
Great Pies - zero
Lousy Coffee - getting hard to find
Wolves crossing road - one, very close
Brake for low-flying blue heron - once
Clothing layers on return - four, thick
Living done - lots
Books read - zero