Friday, December 30, 2011


deep in the glen of winter
somewhere between this year
and that, a quiet chuckling
as clever time and stream
mock the fury of man
and permanence of rock
the joke they share
takes forever to tell
but there's no hurry

~ ralph murre

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Because

Because they're young and short
and in parents' old robes,
are they less wise, these travelers?
Because her wings are cardboard
and a stepladder holds her aloft,
is she not an angel?
Because the star is of gilded paper,
is this not Christmas?

- Ralph Murre

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Post # 500; Nearing Solstice

Yes, this is the 500th post here along the Arvinson Road. Heavy fog all the way, but I'd like to think that it's been a journey worth making, so far. Please have a look around the archives and see if you agree.
Now, in light of (or in dark of?) the coming solstice, I'll lay a piece on you that many have seen or heard before, and which we'll all soon be as tired of as we are The Little Drummer Boy, but a few people have told me they love my seasonal sermonette, so, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum, here it is:

In Dark December

Whatever you believe,
whatever you do not,
there are sacred rites
you must perform
in dark December.
Do this for me:
Pull together
the kitchen table,
the folding table,
and that odd half-oval
usually covered
with bills and broken pencils
and red ink.
Pull together family and friends,
cool cats and stray dogs alike.
Turn off everything
except colored lights,
the roaster,
the toaster, the stove.
Cook. Bake. Eat.
Yes, even the fruitcake.
Eat, crowded around
those assembled tables
with mismatched chairs.
Reach so far
in your sharing
that you hold the sun
in one hand,
the stars in the other,
and no one between is hungry.
Now walk together,
talk together,
be together
on these darkest nights.
Give and forgive.
Light candles and ring bells.
Sing the old songs.
Tell the old stories
one more time,
leaving nothing out,
leaving no one out
in the long night,
leaving nothing wrong
that you can make right.

~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

of a certain age

Can we still write love poems
when the triumphs of our G.I. tracts
are more heralded
than the hunger of our hearts?
Neruda could not have written The Captain's Verses
under the gaze of nurses, but at the end of life
he said to Mathilde,
"It was beautiful to live
when you lived!
. . . I sleep
enormous, in your small hands."
and maybe that's where
the real love poem began.

~ Ralph Murre

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Above the River

On that slope above the Rio Grande
two cows in a New Mexican sunset
their long shadows grazing
on the last stems of daylight
our little car rolling toward tomorrow
and everything made of gold

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, December 02, 2011

and thanks again

photo by S. Auberle

On a Tuesday, I guess it was, m'pardner & I rode down Deuce of Clubs Avenue and right into Show Low, when out of the clear blue Arizona sky I began t'feelin' a mite uneasy. Too many good eats, we reckoned. Tethered the horses 'n' set up camp at the local Holiday Inn Express. A sleepless night led to morning light which revealed my already ample belly swelled to about double its normal size and me, some kinda UNcomfortable.

Well, we saddled up and made the short ride to the nearest emergency room, where they shoved a tube up my nose & down my throat, which had roughly the same effect as we'd get stickin' a bloated cow -- it ain't all that pretty, but it works. Then they proceded to take a bunch of high-falutin' photos of my innards. An obstruction of the bowels 's what they showed. Surgery 's what I needed.

Now, I gotta thank some folks who made it possible f'me to be home alive 'n' writin' t'y'all today: first, the ER staff of Summit Healthcare, then, Dr. Burke De Lange & his ace surgical team, and then, the entire Summit Nursing & tech staff, all of whom must have come from up around Lake Woebegone, 'cause they're ALL way above average.

Thanks, too, to the several of you who caught wind of these developments as they unfolded and kept me under the cozy blanket of your prayers, your good thoughts, and your good vibes. Much appreciated, all around.

The biggest "Thank You", though, is reserved for m'pardner and friend, who mostly dragged me to the hospital and then hovered for a long week, like an angel with wings of light. Thank y'kindly, Miss Sharon.

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, November 18, 2011


Thanks to The Night

thanks to the night
for showing her moon
thanks to the morning
the late afternoon
for the long shadow
that makes you tall as your dreams
thanks to the schemes of twilight
the novel and ancient ideas of streetlights
revealed in their glowing cones
thanks to the bones of your ancestors
for the little you
thanks to the dewy flower
the clock in the tower
for not taking this moment
thanks to the sea for blue

- Ralph Murre

And thanks to all of you for looking in.
Now, I'll be out of Blogland for a couple of weeks.
~ arem

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


chicago window
el train slicing grey morning
someone's life inside

~ arem

Guess what! More of my work, indeed some of my life, is featured on Poetry Dispatch! Forgive the overt enthusiasm, which is not my usual way, but this is a big deal for me. Please have a look at

Monday, November 07, 2011


To that ancient white-tail buck we saw Saturday, south of Manitowoc, who is almost surely somewhere else today. You touched us deeply, Old Deer. (He's hiding in plain sight in my drawing, above.)

Great Stag, staggering
beneath weight of your years
told in antlers
weight of injury or infirmity
told in your gait
come down through that grass
this light
this November light

Cross the county road
yes, yes
cross and stumble a last time
to drink a last cool drink
of Lake Michigan
of this gold and silver light
Safe home
Old Father
good night

~Ralph Murre

Thursday, November 03, 2011


An Open Letter to My Grandchildren

Hi, Kids ~

I’m not sure what your parents may have told you about some things, so I am writing to set the record straight. I do not want you to grow up without knowing the whole truth. For instance, why does Grandpa always seem to want a nap? The simple fact is that I am still very tired from the hard work I had to do as a boy. You know we had no PlayStation or GameBoy. We would build stations to play, but then they invented the railroad and they took our stations for that. We would catch wild boys in the forest hoping to play games with them, like maybe checkers, but the checkerboard was still just a distant dream of scientists, so our game boys would grow up and sell insurance or real estate, and we’d have to start over.

Of course, as you know, we had no TV. The letters “T” and “V” had not yet been thought up, which was true of most of the alphabet. We just called them our ABC’s, because that’s all we had. You could call a cab, but that was about it. And cabs were too expensive, so we had to walk everywhere. No, we had no TV, but we did have radios. The trouble with those early radios, though, was that they were steam-powered. If I wanted to listen to hear the weather report, let’s say, to see how many feet of snow I would have to walk through to get to school, I needed to get up at 3:00 AM to gather wood to build a big fire in the boiler of the radio, so there would be enough steam pressure to get a report by five o’clock. At this time, the rest of the family would arise and they’d all sit around the radio to warm up, while I’d make their breakfast.

Then, before school, it was time for my paper route. I would deliver the morning newspapers to all the people of the town, shoveling the sidewalks of the elderly and looking in on the infirm, many of whom I would nurse back to health before seven by butchering a chicken and making a nice kettle of soup with dumplings, which I liked to serve with a little arugula salad on the side. When I had time, I would do a few loads of their laundry and tell entertaining stories while I packed nourishing lunches for their little children. My schoolmates and I would have a few simple chores before classes could begin, but nothing much. Re-shingle the roof if it looked like rain. Install indoor plumbing. Re-decorate the teachers’ lounge. Things like that. We’d study hard for twelve to sixteen hours and head for home, after sweeping up and mopping the floors and getting fuel for the next day’s heating.

Back at home, I’d usually eat a cold supper while doing four or five hours of homework and I’d be ready to crawl into bed right after stitching up a few quilts to keep my brothers warm.

So, now you know the way it was.

Your loving grandpa,

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Season

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Tried

I tried to read the work of a poet,
but found he was not ready for me.
I’ve put his book aside
to give him time to prepare.
Perhaps, when I next take him
from the shelf, he will have
swept up and made the beds.
He will have weeded the gardens.
There’ll be freshly cut flowers
and the aroma of baking bread.
Perhaps he’ll offer me a
comfortable chair before launching
into his long and lofty talk.

~ Ralph Murre

an old one, first published in Free Verse (#81) and then in Other Voices (Cross+Roads Press)

Friday, October 14, 2011

a thought upon moongazing

my heart is about

the size of my fist

they tell me

but it holds more

doesn't let go

~ arem

Very excited to say that one of my latest pieces, "Stitches in Time", now appears (17 Oct.'11) on Norbert Blei's Poetry Dispatch in some very fine company. If you are not a regular follower of this compendium of all things poetic, you are missing one of the real wonders available on the internet. Check it out and tell me if I'm wrong.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011



I am feeling around
in a darkened room
trying to find
something sound
in my writing, art, life.
Sometimes a light
flashbulb brief and bright
illuminates the scene
but blinds the sight.
Did I catch a glimpse
of something real?
and did you see it?
and what does it mean?
and can it be right?

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, September 30, 2011


Like this morning, crazy with wind

Or just the other day, the bad roads
Even that time, and maybe it was long ago
When we all danced in circles

Take last night, what you said
Take the fire in the ring of rock
Take sun and rain, finally
Pulling frost from earth. A garden

Like falling in and out and in, again
Since the beginning and until
We are very, very old and
Maybe falling in and out, even then

The seasons, I mean, the leaves
The greening and the turning to gold
The rush of it like the sea pulling
The ice and streams of high mountains

Think of that water in the Pacific
Or the rain in Spain if you prefer
Or the little cloud that you are, driven

Like this morning, crazy with wind

~ Ralph Murre

first published in Verse Wisconsin and susequently in my book The Price of Gravity (Auk Ward Editions 2010)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

just ducky

minus orange feet

it arrives at my table

a l 'orange

~ arem

I must admit that I found the original photo of the duck on-line, and the photographer was not credited. I then did a bunch of processes to arrive at the digital duck seen above. Not certain of the ethics in this sort of theft . . . but, if it's your duck, thanks! ~RM

Thursday, September 08, 2011

'round midnight


and hopeful

as midnight

what you did

or didn't

what you might

~ arem

Monday, September 05, 2011

Workers? Are there still workers?

In Labor

So, you’re still working, but they let you off for Labor Day, like the 4th, like Memorial day, and you have a coupla beers and you char something on the Weber, maybe listen to a ballgame, your team still in the cellar. Your cousin Jimmy comes over with his face-lifted tit-lifted wife and the Gameboy twins.
He drives a new Infiniti. It's gray. Nobody talks about labor except that of delivering the twins and there's some talk of her working on her tan. Your dad was in the strike of '52. Also the big one in '56. All summer.
You pick some tomatoes and corn from the garden. Get salt and pepper. They talk about the food at Aquavit and Blu. Your grandpa rode the rails in '35 and '36, stole chickens. They have to go. Country Day School starts tomorrow. Your grandma was in labor in the back of a Ford in '38. There's a union man talking in the park just a block away. Nobody listening. A skateboard goes by. The plant will close in 3 weeks. You fall asleep in a plastic chair from China, juice of summer harvest on your chin, a few clouds gathering.

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, September 02, 2011

Your Barred Window

In This Prison

I would be a blade of grass
near the wall of the yard
moisture of tears would nourish me
and I would give you my green

or a sparrow on the ledge
of your barred window
you wouldn’t need to feed me much
a few grains of your thoughts
and I would chirp
tales of the outside world

or a blue notebook
in the corner of your cell
I would offer a white page each day
and I would hold what you say
‘til you’re ready
to tell everybody else

because I don’t think you’re the type
to do much writing on the wall

or I might be a hacksaw blade
baked into chocolate cake
or a giant yellow bulldozer
carelessly left in the cellblock
ignition key in place

or maybe I would be the day
they realize their mistake
and set you free

~ Ralph Murre

An old one, first published in Free Verse and subsequently in my book Crude Red Boat (Cross+Roads Press 2007).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Learning Fractions

The urge to unite – beyond the biological,
beyond the congress that continues the species –
can be explained: there’s shelter and comfort
and good cooking and conversation.
Division is difficult, though, never mind
the cold feet. The becoming one-half of
what was one, the undoing what was done.
Parceling out the goods and goodness
fifty/fifty, or drawing and quartering
the bookshelves’ perfect order. The music –
my Unchained Melody, Your Cheatin’ Heart
no, that was mine, this yours.
An old copy of Que Sera, Sera.
Now close and lock the doors.

~ Ralph Murre

Thursday, August 18, 2011

and now, a story

The Language

So this medium-sized black bear walks into a bar (Lyle’s Dugout, just behind the ballpark, on 17th) and the bartender asks, “What’ll you have?”, and the bear, Lucien, orders a shot of blackberry brandy and a Hamm’s beer chaser. They get to talking, the bear and Rod, the bartender. Small talk at first, sports mostly. It depresses Lucien, who is upset about teams named for animals, particularly The Bears. The Cubs. He hates Chicago anyway, especially since a cop once roused him when he was trying to hibernate in an underground parking garage down near the Art Institute. “You’ll never catch me in that town again,” says the bear, “at least not in autumn.”

Rod sympathizes, being a Packer fan, but warns under his breath that his boss was born and raised in the Big Windy, and will tolerate no talk against it, no matter your species. “He threw out a lion just the other day for a remark about Mayor Daley. Hmmm . . . I dunno which Mayor Daley.”

“Well, I’d better drink up and get out then,” says Lucien, but Rod explains that Lyle’s in the back room, doing his books, and couldn’t hear over the music anyway (a polka, In Heaven There is No Beer, by Frankie Yankovic). He returns to polishing a few glasses and the bear moodily nurses what remains of his draft. Eventually, he asks for another round and says, “Tell me Rod, your people came from where? Poland maybe, Germany, the Czech Republic?”

“Oh, ya. Danzig, or Gdansk, or whatever the latest bunch in power decides to call it.”

“And you can speak the language?”

“No. Hell no. A dozen words, maybe. My grampa and gramma, they came over and they could speak a coupla languages, but no English. And then my pa, he wanted nothing to do with the old ways. The war and all. Nope – of course, I can cuss and ask for a few kindsa food – but that’s about it.”

“Yes. And you’ve got kids?”

“Five; mostly grown. And two grandkids already. Here, I got pictures.”

“Any of the kids know the language at all?”

“Just my daughter, Katrin. She learned in college, and then went to the old country for a semester. Looked up some family. There’s a lotta books . . .”

“That’s just it,” Lucien sighs deeply, as bears will, “there are a lot of books. Yours is a written language, rich in literature. You can skip a couple of generations and your kids can just go back to it any time they want. Learn it in college. Get credit, even.

“A bear, on the other hand, has only an oral tradition with which to connect. In this part of the world, we too felt the pressure to fit in. A lot of us chose not to be jailed in game preserves. Eventually, we stopped telling the old stories in the old language, and now there’s almost no one left who can teach our children, and many want to learn, want to say ‘I Am a Bear!’, but haven’t the words. A sad thing, and like you and your father, I am partly to blame. For too long, I tried to deny my Ursine nature, my very Bearness.

“Ah, but I gotta go,” says Lucien, standing to leave after a long pause, “baamaa pii.”

“Ya, later,” answers Rod, wiping another glass, “do widzenia.”

~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quixote at Sea

photo by S. Auberle

So, after too many years off the water, but still thinking of myself as a sailor while riding my faithful motorcycle, Rozinante, I find a boat with the name Dulcinea emblazoned on her shapely stern. She's for sale. I buy her cheap. Last few nickels; a fixer-upper. I fix her up. All as it should be.

Together At Last
(a tale of quixotic satisfaction)

The moments are all around us
Momentous moments monuments of moments
In the water on the water of the water
My Dulcinea and I through the thick of the thinning moments
Sailing white on dark days and shadowy in sun
Ahhh the beauty and richness of our poverty
The wealth of our watery soup
The flavor of it in my little tarnished spoon

~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Sour Grapes?


And at times in my heart there is a music that plays for me.
~ J.P. Donleavy

Yes, you too? You’ve heard it? Sometime snare of drum, penny-whistle, nickel-plate, quarter-note? Hum a few bars of a new tune; bring in a viola d’amore to this baroque adagio – unbroken, unbeaten, to play a song for a new season. It may be as well not to enter a poetry contest, a dance contest, a salon d’art.

clean-shaven young man
harsh light of the arena
the expectant crowd

Is it treason to suggest that in his condition blind ambition is deafening the inner ear? Competition is not improving the species, but robbing it of its art? Is it wrong to think that if he listens, if he hears that music deep within he can begin, at last, to write the score, to pen a few notes on a clean page? Is it outrage to suppose that not everyone has heard this rhythm, not everyone goes dancing to the same beat? Wooden hearts clicking like castanets for clay feet?

climbing the stairs alone
an oddly-dressed man speaking
another language

~ Ralph Murre
Sure, it's just a case of sour grapes, isn't it? After all, three pieces of my short fiction just went without notice in a competition. Yet, I'm not sure . . . earlier this year, I served as a preliminary judge for a prestigious poetry contest, and realized that someone with something truly original to say - or with a truly original way of saying it - would have a very difficult time. However, I put such a piece forward and it wound up winning the contest. So, am I putting down the idea of arts contests? No, I simply don't think they do much to engender the creation of anything new, and I think that's largely because most of the entrants don't want to take risks. Someday, we'll get into the discussion of the NEED for anything new, the NEED to take risks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To Your Health

Love strong and fierce and long as you can;

the heart is a muscle, and needs exercise.

~ arem

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Weighty Issue

The Price of Gravity

How much of this life do we own?
Payments are always coming due.
We are the ones who signed the papers,
but there’s something more,
there’s something that can’t be helped.
You and I look different
than we did in morning light.
Now we wade in lead boots
and gather no speed
away from this dead center,
or toward something brighter.
Which is to say away from here,
where the embers have dwindled.
Which is to say we can fly only
with the creatures of dreams,
if we can fly at all.
The dreams will become family,
the dreams will become clan,
scattered like dust among stars
in the cages of our ribs,
in the cages of our cries,
in our breath in the night.
Sometimes the dreams may be of falling
and cold earth rushing to us,
but, travelers now,
they’ll call us travelers,
amid the dust
and the stars
where we’ve known the dark eclipse,
and we’ve flown with
those creatures of dreams
between galaxies.
We won’t be in lead boots
once we’ve started to dream.
We’ll no longer make payments
on things that hold us down.

This is not the end of this poem --
something pulls at us forever.

~ Ralph Murre

This piece was first published in Iconoclast, and subsequently became the title poem for my latest book. (Auk Ward Editions 2010, )

Reminder: as with all the graphics on the site, you can see the drawing in full-size by clicking on the image.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Inside Passage

I’m not saying heart of darkness, exactly,
but there is an un-named river descending
from a midnight in each of us,
an unlit flooding where no one dares.
There is an hour the bell does not toll.

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen (at his best) asks if every Golden Age leaves the taste of brass. Where would you have rather been? And when?
My Here and my Now are gold enough for me, but see the show; you may not agree.

and give us this day

tomorrow and tomorrow

a moveable feast

Monday, June 06, 2011


As If

It’s almost as if this Grand Canyon
was opened by my Colorado
flowing through your Arizona,
as if busloads would come to see,
as if they’d fly in from Asia
with cameras.

It’s as if your Sierra watered
my Truckee, your Smokies
generated the power of my Tennessee,
as if my Kitty Hawk meant something
to your sky, your salmon
to my sea, my unparted sea.

It’s as if our waters, in their mingling,
defied laws of nature and physics,
as if we’d be running
through each other forever,
your Jupiter reflected in my dark surface,
my hands cupping a little drink of you.

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, May 23, 2011

At This Pub

the little gods

serving justice and injustice

from unmarked taps

~ arem

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sharp as Want

Never So Proud

I’ve never been so proud of Little Eagle Press as I am today in announcing the publication of Sharp as Want, a bright book which combines poetry by Jeanie Tomasko and photo artworks by Sharon Auberle.

When I began the press a few years ago, my goal was to publish books that married verbal and visual art, to treat both forms with equal respect, and certainly not to to have the art in a book to simply illustrate, but rather, to take the reader/viewer to a place of delicate balance that can only happen, I believe, in that space between two complimentary works. This goal has never been better achieved than it is in Sharp as Want, the work of two brilliant women at the top of their game. Take for example:

All Souls’ Day

what I mean is how
do you say bird in a northern tongue
how do you say keep (from) sleeping

how do you say want
as in all poems carry want

how do you say wings of the snow petrel
can show you how
to weep

how do you say
wings want weep

how do you carry want

to carry your memory
is not heavy, is nothing
like heaviness

heavy is the heron
after it swallowed the fish
as big as its back and it could not lift
but only move its weight inches above the water
to the shore across the marsh

not because I believe
you carried anything

what I mean is how
do you say that shore across
if you don’t know the way

~ Jeanie Tomasko

~ Sharon Auberle

Here is a book of love and loss, death and desire, and love regained. Here is the second book to receive Little Eagle’s R.M. Arvinson Award. Here is a book you should own. You can, you know, by sending a check for $18. ($15 + $3 for S&H) to Little Eagle Press, P.O. Box 684, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202, or, by chasing down either of the book’s contributors.

NOTE: Bruce Hodder has posted a review of Sharp as Want on his fine e-zine. "the beatnik". See it here: Thanks, Bruce!

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, May 02, 2011

Franz Liszt, b. 1811

The master, brilliant pianist Anthony Padilla, and a bunch of his about-to-be-brilliant students. Liszt, mostly, what with him turnin' 200 and all. Y' shoulda been there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


and the rain is the sea

and that drop
clinging to a lock
of your golden hair
in this mist-laden glen
was the tear of a fisherman’s wife
and that one
on the leaf of the thimbleberry
will rejoin the ocean
where it floated a ship of slaves
and this one
on the arbor vitae
once washed the wounds of Christ
and carried canoes of Lewis and Clark
and this one
on my streaming brow
carried the fishes eaten with the loaves
by a hungry multitude

and the sea is the rain
and the Adriatic is lightly falling
on our roof as we love
the Pacific wetting the soil of our tomatoes

this rose
in a little vase of the Mediterranean
is for you

- Ralph Murre 2005

from my first book of poems, Crude Red Boat (Cross+Roads Press)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

unusual fare

public sculpture in buenos aires, artist unknown to me

I Thirst, He Said,

and he knew the dimensions of thirst
are not measured except by drought,
are not fully understood but in places so dry,
vinegar is more likely than water.
(A sponge of vinegar, lifted as sour offering
to the King of the Jews, hung against the sky.)

The dimensions of suffering, he knew,
are not measured against the bodies of gods --
these lengths and spans are known by flesh,
known by woman and man.
(His mother there, who bore this life,
and saw it taken again.)

I thirst, he said,
and the divine became human
and the human became divine,
as the day darkened
in an eclipse of immortality;
morality lesson played out.

I thirst, he said,
and he knew the scope of feelings in me and you
are not gauged against the heavens,
but by desire for what is given, and spoken
in words not ethereal, but earthly, and real:
Hunger. Want. Thirst.
I need. I feel.

( Rain, too, falls from on high,
but must evaporate, someday,
to rise again, though we may wonder why.)

~ Ralph Murre

This piece was written last year, and was presented as one of "The Last Words", in company with six other poets and a chamber music ensemble playing the work of Haydn.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

travel agent

at the microphone
there’s the professor
the professing of poetry
with a lack of poetry
in the professing

then, carapace she says
and says it again since
she loves repetition and
then, carapace she says
(there, I said it again)

and I am off
swimming with sea turtles
at sea in a warm Caribbean
and thanking the professor
for my little vacation

~ ralph murre

Monday, April 11, 2011


on this table

where the marked cards are dealt

we play the game

~ arem

Friday, March 25, 2011

In the Night

In this one, my father's big, dark workhorse and I are waiting for my father. I hold the bridle and try to keep the restless horse in place to be harnessed to his labors. There is someone else, or some other horse or dog that I do not know and never look at directly, so I don't know if that's important to the dream or not.
We are in the house; the horse, the other, and I, looking out the windows with increasing concern for my father, because he's very late now. We're on the second floor, not in one of the bedrooms, but in a big room at the back of the house, which overlooks the whole farm. I apologize for the delay to the horse, who I seem to know very well, but has no name. He whispers something to me in English, the horse does, but I can't make it out at first, because I didn't know he could talk, but then he puts his big nose and mouth right up to my ear, which I find comforting, and the horse says, "He's not coming, Ralph, but it's O.K. It's O.K., Ralph," he says, but I can see he's worried, too. The horse has to go out to pee and can't stand still any longer, so I finally let go of him.
It's time for supper already. Someone's getting supper, probably my Aunt Norma. I bring chairs to the table; a normal wooden chair for myself, a large green chair for the other, and a very heavy and very large canvas director's chair, which I cover with a coarse blanket, for the horse.
Something is rattling at the side of the house and the other and I see that it is my father, climbing a tall ladder to the window, which I push up, so he can get in. The ladder ends a little below this window, so I reach out to help. I say, "Dad, you're very late, it's time for supper, come in." Now he looks like an actor who looks very much like my father. He's just smiling at me when it hits me: "Oh," I say, "you can't come in, can you?" And my father or the actor says, "No," sees that I'm afraid and says, "Don't worry, it's very beautiful out here. Look." He is wearing no clothes and smiling broadly and the world out the window is, indeed, very beautiful.
The actor playing my father slowly backs down the ladder to join an actor playing my Uncle Clarence, though he doesn't look like him. He's also nude, but it all seems normal and good. They stroll off toward the horizon, the naked men, looking this way and that at the trees and those long sunbeams like in children's books, and the flowers. They seem very happy, these actors who are playing my father and uncle, and I don't worry for them.
I wonder where has the horse gotten to and who is the other and where is supper? And why didn't they get Bert Lahr to play Uncle Clarence, since they looked alike?
~ Ralph Murre

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Bitte, Por Favor, S'il Vous Plait

In the language of your country, do you have a word for that moment when you walk off a cliff and stand in mid-air? Is it the same word for that moment after you say, "I do," but you wanted to say, "Wait . . . WHAT was the question?" -- Do you have a word for the color of the fabric of that day someone first says, "don't," or, "you can't," or, "we shouldn't."? What is your term for that season, short or not, between love and hate (if it comes to that); for the season that follows desire? What's your word for the heart that survives? What do you call one that doesn't?

~ Ralph Murre

Go now (yes, right now) to Mike Koehler's blog >> to see our own little "Braided Creek", with thanks to Harrison and Kooser.

Also Note: Lou Roach, writing for the excellent poetry journal, "Verse Wisconsin", has reviewed my latest book, The Price of Gravity. You can see what she had to say at

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 03, 2011

aw, shucks

Well, strange as it may seem, and for reasons beyond my grasp, I've been selected poet of the month at the excellent website Your Daily Poem, and I want to offer my sincere thanks to Jayne Jaudon Ferrer who so ably puts things together over there. I hope you'll have a look at , where you'll have to click on a tab called, obviously, "Poet of the Month", in the upper left-hand corner of the home page. I answer a few questions which have probably been keeping you awake for some time.

My good fortune aside, you'll want to become familiar with the site, anyway. A poem-a-day. All kinds. What could be better?
~ Ralph Murre

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Whose is the madness, then --
the simple fool?
The follower into the dark,
or the leader?
The begger?
The banker?
Believer or atheist,
reader or writer,
pauper or pope?
The half-empty pessimist,
or the one filled with hope?

~ Ralph Murre

My drawing, above, was originally done for Mike Koehler's excellent book of poetry, Red Boots.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Room with Red Walls

The Way the Light Shines

The way the light shines
through Vermeer

on a Dutch afternoon
a girl with a pitcher

of something cool
and sweet I’ll bet

The way the boys
in the low sloop

laden with the smell of salt
look through Winslow Homer

The way the stars see
through Van Gogh in the night

The way you’d come
right through

me painting you
in your room with red walls

The way water-lilies
make love to Monet

~ Ralph Murre

first published in Verse Wisconsin, and subsequently in my latest book, The Price of Gravity

Monday, February 07, 2011

Flamingos del Norte

The Sky is Full of Bluebirds

but not everyone can see them
so they think it's just a blue sky,
and at night, when it's all crows --
well, you know.
And early and late
come the cardinals and flamingos,
but don't try to explain that
to just anyone.
There are gray birds, too.

~ Ralph Murre

first published in the calendar of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Filmore, Wisconsin

Back at St. Martin's Church,
ours was not a god of subtleties.
Our god, whose name was Gott im Himmel,
demanded memorization of long passages
of the Heidelberg Catechism.
He demanded a congregation
in woolen suits over woolen underwear,
an aroma of chores just accomplished
in barns full of Holsteins.
He demanded music from an organ
earnestly but poorly played
by the arthritic fingers of a very old woman.
Hymns no one knew.
Endless sermons from a very old man.
Our god did not care much for joyful noises.
And though he'd share tiny cubes of bread
and sips of wine,
he seemed to prefer potato pancakes,
pork sausages and apple sauce.
Real cream in his coffee.
In his heaven, we knew there was lager beer.
In Hell, there were thin people.

~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, January 22, 2011


He's very big
I heard said of a poet
whose name
I should have known
but I am small
and slip my poems
under your door.
~ RM

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Time Lines

Photo-painting by S. Auberle
o holy of holies
I see you
o grandchild
of my grandchild
I see you clearly
child of my child
product of my
life from my life
o grandfather
do you see me?
o grandmother
I am working
in your garden
~ Ralph Murre