Monday, December 31, 2007


Sail on, O Ship of Time!

I'll make another passage

if you'll have me.

- Ralph Murre

In The Freeze

even in the freeze
of this wintering woodlot
a dark stream flowing

- arem

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


December in Colonia del Sacramento, Uraguay

somewhere a flower blooms
while somewhere a bulb holds life frozen
somewhere there is dancing
while somewhere a bomb ends the music
somewhere there is laughter
and our little planet spins night into day
and wobbles so slightly
from the weight of tears
and the lightness of joy

- Ralph Murre

Monday, December 24, 2007

joyeux noel

The best to all of you - peace, love, a silent night.

Don't loose sight of it climbing to the cuckoo's nest.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dusting Off Jesus

"If there is no God,

Not everything is permitted to man,

He is still his brother's keeper

And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,

By saying that there is no God."

- Czeslaw Milosz

Readers of this blog include members of several of the world's major faiths and many others of no faith at all. I am not a member of any religious group, though I was brought up in the Christian tradition. I now consider most religion to be myth, but I say that in no way to belittle the faith of anyone - I consider most mythology to be full of very real lessons and values which have had great import to people down through the ages, and continue to be important today.

At a time of year when many of us are observing holidays, Holy Days, and perhaps idly wishing peace to our fellow humans, let me reflect for a minute on the so-called followers of Christ. First off, how can they possibly advocate going to war, no matter what the justification? What purported teaching of Christ allows revenge? And when, exactly, did God become the property of the right-wing?

"Blessed are the peacemakers", Jesus is supposed to have said. "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."... "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good for them that hate you."... "forgive men their trespasses"..."Be wise as serpents," he is supposed to have said,"and harmless as doves." Is anybody picking up on a theme here?

I, frankly, don't know if the Christian religion has any more merit than the Santa Claus myth, but Virginia, if you choose to believe in Christ, hadn't you better listen to his words?

Peace be with you, all of you - believers, unbelievers, seekers and suckers - if you think there's a God, I think there are a bunch of 'em.

- Ralph Murre


Monday, December 17, 2007


so darkly perched
to await the tide's offering
unloved cormorant

- arem

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Three Things

New friends in Buenos Aires taught me a proverb which I hadn't heard before -
En la vida, debes hocer tres cosas:
- Tener un hijo
- Plantar un arbol
- Escribir un libro

In your life, you must do three things:
- Raise a child
- Plant a tree
- Write a book

I like it, probably because it's the only "To Do" list which I've ever completed. Well, I suppose it's true that I only helped a bit in raising children and the book is a very slim volume of poetry, but there were lots of trees.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Back from Buenos Aires

The Artist Claudio Barragan,
photo by Nancy Vaughn

Morning In A Strange City

A mouth full of how-do-you-say?
and ears full of birdsong and builders,
eyes full of children and treetops,
red tile and red wines and green vines,
whitewash and washed clothes
and everywhere sun.

And shadow.

Evita’s air and fresh breeze and cafĂ© doble
and diesel and dogshit and life
and death and jasmine and jazz.

And cats.

And the disappeared who do not disappear.
Oh, do not disappear. Oh, never disappear.

And hope. There is fresh breeze and hope.
And there are smiles.
Even the old woman smiles
as she walks by Cementario de la Recoleta.
Even the mask-maker smiles
as he makes his unsmiling masks.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, November 23, 2007

gotta fly, man

gotta see some other place,
continent, hemisphere.
spin things backward.
coupla weeks maybe.
or 'til new year's. or ground hog's.
back by mayday for sure.
- r.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From Down Here

Thanks to the mothers and the motherless. Thanks to the Ho Chunk and the Crow. Thanks to the poultry, thanks to the yam, thanks to the farmer and the fisher. Thanks to the one who does. Thanks to the well-wisher.

Thanks to the fathers and the prodigal sons. Thanks to the bird and the bee. Thanks to mechanics, thanks to cows. Thanks to the comic and the rain-cloud and the sun and the humble and the proud.

Thanks to the painters and the crimson paint; thanks to the poets and the words. Thanks for the paper. Thanks for the pen. Thanks for erasers and time. Thanks for rivers flowing. Thanks for strength to climb.

- Ralph Murre

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

All About Two

We've reached the second anniversary of the Arem Arvinson Log, and by coincidence (sheer or shear?) this is post #222. Forgive my moment of self-congratulation, but I guess I'm fairly happy with the blog as a body of work. If you're a newcomer, a serious blog addict, or otherwise totally without a life of your own, have a look through the archives.

Thank you all for dropping by, and thanks especially to those who've given me a link from their own blog. Stop in whenever you're in the neighborhood.

- Ralph Murre, on behalf of Arem Arvinson

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I read a poem
by Louise Gluck -
she said birds were darting
in low shrubs.
I thought she said
they were dating
in low shrubs,
but I guess I was just thinking
of you and me.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, November 16, 2007


Have faith
breathes the wind
that pulls men to sea
Not too much
moans the wind
that eats sails
Not too much
agrees the wave

- Ralph Murre

Thursday, November 15, 2007


It's not so bad when I think in terms of a poem or a drawing, but when I allow myself to begin to think of a book - a book of poems and drawings - any pretense of good housekeeping just goes to hell. Tables and desks piled too high for anything more, the floor a few layers thick, I wade through piles of paper, roll in words and images and daydreams, surface occasionally for food and drink (oh, yes, more drink please) and then slide back beneath the surface, where I can hold my breath for a very long time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Making Perfect

They Practice
The pianist and the violinist practice,
and I get out a pen and practice, too,
I'm just having coffee and why not
get in a few words of practice;
the warm sun on my back,
the music on my ear,
the world still
this moment.

- Ralph Murre

Packers, Thirty-Four / Vikings, Zero

Monday, November 05, 2007



How much easier
to write about the tamarack’s
golden flame
the last flicker of warmth
against purple winter’s
than to speak
of our own fading hopes
of immortality

to let the pen express visions
of V’s of geese
receding into falling night
than to talk with a lover
the approaching darkness
in which the warm V
of our desire
our desirability
heads south

easier to project
into metaphor of autumn
and winter
than to accept the coming
of no spring no summer

the trout lily’s bloom
the red robin’s return
not for us

easier to tell the world
of fortitude

than to tell family
of fear.

Tomorrow begins November
we shall wear brave masks

- Ralph Murre 2004

this piece was written for Halloween,
and appears in my book, "Crude Red Boat"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

And speaking of cameras,

(and I'm pretty sure I was, a couple of days ago,) I've got to tell you of a wonderful experience I had recently. The Canon SD230 digital, which had served so well, was overcome by some supernatural sort of glitch which rendered it more or less a pain in the ass. Since it was three or four years out of warranty, I decided to call Canon, just to find out which current model might accept the same periferal gear I had purchased for the old camera. I clenched my jaw and prepared for the endless horror of talking to machines and waiting for hours which I was sure would follow. WRONG! Within moments, I was talking to Johanna, a real, live human who was totally competent, caring, and courteous. We talked about new cameras that might fill the bill and then Johanna asked about the nature of the problem I was having. I explained, and also explained that my warranty was long gone. Well, she said, I'm going to send you shipping labels and all you'll have to do is pack the camera, and shipping will be paid to our service center, where they'll either fix your camera or make you a very good deal on a replacement. That sounded good, but not as good as the result - within ten days, I received a refurbished SD630 (!), a much newer and much improved camera, at absolutely no cost to me!

To receive terrific service from an electronics company in an electronic age is not something I can take for granted, and I must certainly recommend to my friends, that if they are in the market for any sort of device that Canon makes, they should look no farther. Incidentally, mine is not a unique experience, as I told this story to a friend who, almost word for word, had the same story to tell about Canon.

- Ralph Murre


chuckles of a pram-boat
on wavelets
haunting laugh of loon
quiet evening shower
tears of the crescent moon

-Ralph Murre

Friday, November 02, 2007


Changing Light

Sunlight, thick as syrup
and golden flowing
on sweet afternoon
of saxophone serenade
but bass, the note
of discord beneath
and chill, the shadow
where he stands
as she leaves, again.
Wind where music was
and shrill, now
the thinning light
as metal on slate.
Tin whistle shrill.

- Ralph Murre 2006

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just in Case

Note To My Publicist

The camera should be held
Quite low, I think,
To make me appear taller
and to hide baldness.
The lens should be of the type
Which makes one look slim and muscular.
Also, I believe,
A rather soft focus would be good.
I’ll need the kind of lighting
Which adds a great deal of dignity
and youthful vitality.
If I am to speak,
The microphone must be attached
To some sort of apparatus
That renders the voice lower and more mellow.

I will,
With proper planning and rehearsal,
Be very candid and spontaneous.

- Ralph Murre 2003

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Color Blue

not everything
will be explained completely
sky depth, color blue

- arem

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fair Trade Items

Barter With Bob

He brought fall mushrooms
- all kinds -
in exchange for construction advice
I'd offered in spring.
A fair trade, I think,
in equally dangerous commodities.
I ate the mushrooms
- hoping -
we were both experts,
or both lucky.

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We Are What?

Are we what we read, I wonder? Probably not - no more than we are what we eat, or what we drive, or what we wear. I suppose those of us who try to write may be a little more of what we read than your average bear or Bears fan, but I think we need to be careful to live it, rather than just read about it, if we're going to tell stories that anybody wants to hear.
I came across the term "vastly unread" lately, in an article by someone I respect immensely, who suggested that the term would apply to you if you have not read a particular author. I take his point, but also that of the Clean Old Man who tells Ringo to put down his "boook" and get out and live life. Parts of life are not found in the pages of books, no matter how well written, and the best of writers, I think, don't JUST read.
Don't misunderstand me - read all you can - but do it when the sky is dark, the stars aren't out, and the bars are closed.
Are our heads just lovely jugs to hold the words we've read until it comes time to pour them back out? Did Conrad just READ about going to sea?
Tell me a story - but don't tell me somebody else's.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, October 12, 2007

Black Holes

Vincent In The Mines

Black holes in space pull everything in,
like heaven with nobody guarding the gates.
It's hard to know if the streets are gold,
'cause nobody sends postcards.
It may be too dark for pictures,
but you can see stars, I guess.
Black holes in earth pull at miners,
like hell with no amusements.
Even the missionary Van Gogh
didn't send pictures from the mines,
but he got out and saw the starry night.
He got out and saw sunflowers
before the black holes in his spirit
pulled everything in.

- Ralph Murre

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

good stuff

Worth Seeing

There are a few new connections over in the "links" area of the screen that I'd like to bring to your attention:

Norb Blei's Poetry Dispatch, which has long been available by email, is now being archived and brought to you by the mysterious Monsieur K., to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Merci ! This site will be one of the best poetry resources available.

John Brzezinski - Photographer, is just that - and a damned good one. John also runs the blog "OKO".

Julie Eger, is just starting her web site, and it's looking very good. Julie is a friend, excellent writer and poet, great spirit - I congratulate her on this new effort.

And, not a new link, but if you care at all about what is happening in the world and/or good writing, please have a look at the September 6th entry at Baghdad Burning.

Monday, October 01, 2007

From Water

If you've slid
over frost-glazed strand
and rowed that shade of blue
past mapled crimson
in the cove she was moored,
if she rose and fell with a sigh
because the season
had grown thin as promises,
then you know, don't you,
something of life
and a little about death.
If she's cast rainbows
in the spray
and moaned with the lust
of wind and sea,
then you know something of dreams.
If you've taken her from water
and hid her away for the long winter,
you know something of sorrow.

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Old Man

photographer unknown, probably Laura Murre
He'd have been 100 years old today, 29 September 2007, this prize-fighter/pacifist cowboy/carpenter. He was a good father. He was a good man. He's in a good place.
Perhaps fittingly, his death in 1999 gave birth to the writing portion of my life, when, the night before his funeral, I wrote this eulogy and spoke it at the service the next day:

A Short Eulogy For Arvin Murre
There's an old Shaker hymn that says " 'tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free, 'tis a gift to come down where you ought to be..." I don't know if Dad ever heard that song, but it could have been written about him, because he was richly blessed with those three gifts.
To be simple: We've turned that idea around so it almost sounds like an insult. But Dad was wonderfully simple. He never wanted for more than he had; more stuff, more clutter. He showed us that it was a gift to have simple desires.

To be free: Anyone who ever heard Dad walking across the farmyard at five in the morning, whistling a tune of his own, knew that he was as free as the birds, who whistle their own tunes.

To come down where you ought to be... What do you think that means? I think, for Dad, it meant coming down next to Mom; next to Laura, the love of his life. He's with her again and at home with the one he loves.

Dad never put much stock in words... "Words are but a breeze"...he told us. So what can we learn from a man who never said much? Let's think of what we never heard him say... We never heard him say " I hate so and so, or that group of people, or that race of people...or that religion." So maybe we can learn something about tolerance; maybe even love.

We never heard him brag. Although he was a great craftsman, and we know he was proud of his work, he never bragged about anything; just let his work speak for itself. So maybe we can learn something about humility.

We never heard him say "Oh, I couldn't do that” or “You can't do that."... He always found a way to do what needed to be done. So maybe we can learn something about self-confidence.

But, his greatest lesson can only be learned by following his example... and I'm speaking now to the men...he taught us what it means to be a father...and what it means to be a man. So, Thank You, Dad... for the things you said...and for the things you never had to say. Thank You for your Life.

-Ralph Murre

Thursday, September 27, 2007


after summer's end
the waterless lilies wait
ah, today's gray sky

- arem

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

hearing voices

voices on my walk
gold leaf veneer of this day
the bright-bloused women
- arem

Monday, September 17, 2007

Post 200

home again from the fabled up north
appointed rounds
in all kindsa weather
like masochistic mailmen
selling more books than we bought
which has never happened
and may never again
and two motorcycles faithful
and she who rode
one, too
these five days
still speaking to me
and bringing me tea, just now
- ralph murre

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Burt the Dog

Burt The Dog, born 25 December, 1994 at Mindoro, Wisconsin, died today, 11 September, 2007 at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
He loved the water and rolling in dead fish.
Burt leaves his long-time companions, Nancy Vaughn and Ralph Murre, along with numerous friends.
Memorial contributions on behalf of Burt the Dog may be made to:

All Creatures
PO Box 155
Baileys Harbor, WI 54202

Sunday, September 09, 2007


When the golden kernels are in
and the purple fruit, too,
and the words are gathered;
save for me a heel of bread
and the dregs of wine,
save for me a throwaway line.
And the orchestra gets weary
and the barmen tire, too,
and the lovers leave;
save for me a melody
and a barefoot dance,
save for me a whispering chance.

And if it grow cold and it be a mile,
and if I grow old; stay with me a while.

- Ralph Murre

Sunday, September 02, 2007

the summer's gone

and all the roses falling
and all the crumbs of lunch
and all the papers crumpled
and the Rosalita's sweeping
and all the plumbing clogged
and all the overflowing
and all the windows fogged
and all the Carlos's plunging
and all the paint is peeling
and all the roofs are leaking
and the gardens all need weeding
and all the Ivan's scraping
and all the Juan's are raking
and the Marina's are all mopping
and all the dishes -
someone's doing all the dishes
someone's washing the hotel sheets
you made love on
someone's patching holes
in the roads
someone's patching holes
in someone's jeans
and the Jeremy's are assistant managers
and the Brittney's have syndromes
and all the Rose's falling
in the under-insured night

- Ralph Murre

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

of pigs

Picking Straw

All of these years blown away
like calendar pages in a black and white
movie I saw once when I was little,
kind of hokey, I mean –
the years and blowing around like that –
and me in the wind all the time
and my fragile shelter leaning to leeward
and me leaning with it like a strawhouse pig
with The Tabernacle Choir of Wolves huffing
at the door, an empty fridge,
and thinking, sticks, I could have built with sticks,
been a nine to five pig with a long commute,
gone to a straw house for a 2 wk. smmr. rntl.,
been a regular boar, dreaming of brick.

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, August 25, 2007

for a spin

"little wheel spin and spin"

Buffy Sainte Marie told us,

"and the big wheel turns around . . ."

and the wheels still turn

and the world goes 'round

and a little gets lost

for everything found

and the clouds still spin

through the sky, through the sky

and I thought I saw you

floating by

and the dark horse goes up

as the white one comes down

and the music plays on

as the children go 'round

and the song seems to be

you and I, you and I

smile at me as you go

spinning by

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, August 18, 2007

like willow

blue willow weeping
in the wind of a low bank
the beckoning limbs
- arem

Monday, August 13, 2007

sky blue

the unbearable blue of cloudless skies
reflected in your dark glasses
but, today, the clouds

the spacewalk with no tether
free, at last, of safe gravity
but, today, the earth

the dream of flight, so close at hand
a pair of cranes leaves home
but, today, they return

- ralph murre

Friday, August 10, 2007

Passage from India!

Many of you younger readers won't remember this, but there was a time, shortly after the Beatles* left the side of Baba Ram Dass**, when he was visited by Bebe Rebozo***, who was in something of a quandary.
"Baba", said Bebe, "I have lost my way. I am clearly not a Beatle, but if I were, what advice would you have for me?"
"Bebe", said Baba, " I will tell you what I would tell you if you were not just you, but a Beatle, too: Bebe, you must simply BE Bebe!"
"But Baba," babbled Bebe, "I have forgotten how to just BE Bebe, and what's more, I don't know if I even want to be Bebe, Baba."
"To be Bebe, or not to be Bebe;" rebutted Baba,"that is the . . . (to be continued)

* Popular English Rock and Roll Quartet
** Garden Grown Guru
*** Friend and confidant of Richard Nixon

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Suppose for a minute we are brothers, you and I. Suppose our mother has been attacked by a terrible disease. In the course of fighting the illness, our mother has become addicted to the drug which was prescribed to cure her. Now imagine that one of us feels that the medicine is doing her more harm than the disease and is struggling to get her off of the drug, while the other is convinced that she will surely die if she stops taking her medication, and fights to keep her taking it. Can we say that one of us loves his mother more?

- RM

Monday, July 30, 2007


On July 17th, I read some of my poetry to a small but wonderful group in Appleton, Wisconsin, and then began wending my way Northward on my faithful Harley-Davidson, Rozinante, a good little horse.

It has taken me a while to begin to understand my journey, and since it was not planned, I cannot say it did or did not meet my expectations. My route took me near the home of a friend I had not seen for over 40 years, and with some trepidation, I stopped to visit her. I don't know what I was worried about, since we had a good visit - talked very little of old times - but more about who we are now. Very interesting. I knew that her brothers, with whom I had been close, were buried somewhere nearby, in a Native American cemetery, and she gave me directions to it, so I could pay my respects on my way through. I bought some tobacco to sprinkle on their graves, which I did in my own not-so-knowledgeable but heartfelt ceremony.

Onward to True North, as best we in the Lower 48 can understand it, the Keweenaw peninsula of Michigan. The U.P. of the U.P. A good visit with friends Jikiwe, (potter extraordinaire, co-editor of the magnificent Cliffs "Soundings", and leader of the Vertin Gallery, one of the best I've seen anywhere, and to find it this far off the beat is simply amazing), and Splake, (Graybeard Cliffs Dancer, Chairman of the Bards, Editor-in-Chief, Angler-in-Chief, and poet's poet), lots of talk of spirits, good and evil, copper country history, then and now, mountain lions, tiger trout.

A visit to the fabled Cliffs - rocky spine of rock-ribbed peninsula, and site of the beginning of the Great Copper Boom of the Keweenaw, site of abandoned mining operations, site of spirits' homes, spirits pulled from Mother Earth and still at the surface. Spirits palpable to any but the inert. And, site of Splake's Poet-Tree, to which he guides kindred souls, and to which he attaches poems and other prayers for the winds and weathers to distribute as necessary.

I took the above picture of Splake at The Cliffs and had thought to take pictures of the poet-tree and other strange and wonderful stuff, but my camera ceased its workings, probably because of some electronic glitch, but possibly because of phenomena which would rather not be photographed. Without any pre-communication on the subject, Splake sprinkled tobacco around the tree before we left. Hmmm. Interesting, but not surprising.

Back at the gallery, I told Jikiwe of my intended, and arcane, plan to travel to Marquette via a little-known route of backroads and pack-trails. Well, he said, if you're going that way, I believe you should stop at a very old and traditional native cemetery that's almost right on the way. I did. Now, the purpose of my journey was coming a little more clear. A sandy knoll. A grove of ancient pines. Spirit houses on most of the graves. If you can go to this place and not be aware of spirits, you are deader than the inhabitants. Camera again refusing to try to record any of this, I leaned one hand on a towering pine, from the top of which, I SWEAR, a rattling noise and vibration emanated. I removed my hand, and the noise stopped. Put my hand back on the tree and the noise and vibration began again. I didn't lean on any more trees, but sprinkled tobacco on most of the graves, prayed to every deity I'm on speaking terms with, and pointed Rozinante up the trail.

My camera worked fine when I got to Marquette.

- Ralph Murre

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The mason of rainbow's arc and clouds' clash
must keep an eye on the sky, his brash
likeness painted in tons, before
the ones modeling there crash again
with lightning's hiss and float by
as if to wet another dry land, waken
another artist's hand, bands of color
inked in another clay, and leaden thunderheads
are mortared in another gray-scale day.

- Ralph Murre

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Reading tonight at Appleton, then a-wandering via motorcycle, probably Northward. Will be off-line a few days.
- R.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Street Scene

how do such happiness
and such sadness
live on the same street?

- arem

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Song for Our Times

I really don't care - BABY IT'S HOT OUTSIDE
we'll turn up the air - BABY IT'S HOT OUTSIDE
the climate has been - BEEN HOPING THE TEMPS WOULD DROP
Al Gore has started to worry - I'M PRAYING FOR A SNOW FLURRY
Ralph Nader is pacing the floor - LISTEN TO HILLARY ROAR
I'm gonna learn to like curry - THANK GOODNESS THAT YOU'RE NOT FURRY
well maybe just one gas tank more - CRAWL IN THE FRIDGE AND I'LL POUR

we won't go out there - BABY IT'S HOT OUTSIDE
we won't need underwear - BABY IT'S HOT OUTSIDE
to break this spell - I'LL DRAW A BATH, YOU'RE STARTING TO SMELL
I oughta say no, no, no sir - WE WON'T EVEN NEED TO KEEP THE TOASTER
at least I won't drive fifty-five - WHAT'S THE POINT IN STAYING ALIVE
I really don't care - BABY DON'T BURN UP


-Ralph Murre


All writing, art, and photography on this site are the work and property of Ralph Murre, unless otherwise noted. And yes, Arem Arvinson is just a figment of my imagination, so I think I can speak for him. Anyone using any of this work without our permission is gonna piss us off. We'll be flattered, sure, but mostly just pissed off.
- RM & arem

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

# 181

in this life
we dare not
but we do

in this dream
where anything goes
I can't find you

- arem