Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Moonlight

The moonlight behind the tall branches
The poets all say is more
Than the moonlight behind the tall branches.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .~ Fernando Pessoa

It is just moonlight, there
as a god is just a god
a hummingbird just that
with its ruby throat
tall branches not really
reaching for the sky
just the moonlight, there

. . . . . .~ Ralph Murre

My thanks to poet Barbara Larsen, who passed along the Pessoa quote.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Joan, Juliie, and Juliette

There doesn’t seem to be a major award ceremony
for best daydreaming,
though I imagine long limos
and carpets in the streets
and, perhaps, Juliette Binoche
confidently holding my elbow.
As the giddy reporters recede
and camera men are beaten back,
( I modestly assume they’re focused on Juliette)
we settle into the thick plush
of the multi-tiered theater and
anxiously await Best Performance
in a Leading Role; Domestic Daydream,
Comic or Tragic; Male.
I am, of course, honored simply
to be mentioned in the same breath
as my rivals, and Sam Shepard
and Penelope Cruz hand me
the weighty statuette. Penelope, in congratulation,
( and a see-through gown cut down to here)
kisses me for an embarrassingly long time
which makes Juliette frightfully jealous
and I am speechless, except to thank
Walt Whitman and Mohandas Gandhi
and no one can explain why
Joan Baez and Julie Christie
rush the stage before I can be led off
to safety where I find that
I am in a laundromat;
driers slowly turning,
a light rain tapping the window.

~ Ralph Murre

previously published in Wisconsin People and Ideas

Thursday, February 23, 2012

this rose

the day is gone

a garden of flowers closing

but still, this rose

~ arem

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will and Testament

Will and Testament

They’ll need to know this much – the two strong sons –
to know what, beside their flesh and progeny, I leave.
The jack pines I planted, I’ll tell them,
over a half-century old, those that survived
the first summer. It was dry.
But they’re sold with the ground
that holds your grandparents’ ash, I’ll tell them.
There are the boats I built, I’ll tell them,
the green-painted boats. But those are sold too,
I’ll tell them, with the sunlight on the bay.
And the houses, I’ll say, drawn and built
by these hands. And yours, I’ll proudly add.
Sold now, but think of the times we had.
The roof-beams and hell we raised.
And the poems, I’ll say, here are the poems.
Couldn’t sell those, I’ll tell them truthfully,
or give them away. Here – I’ve books of them, Boys.
Thin books, it’s true, with few words,
but they’re like new. Here are the poems.

~ Ralph Murre

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Self-Portrait as Cliff-Diver

Self-Portrait as Cliff-Diver

you've seen our brass and bronze
to the sea
our naked intention
that long leap from the known world
into her unknown arms
you've seen us climbing back
facing the edge
all over again

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, February 03, 2012

SECOND REWRITE: the storyteller

So I'm laid up a little, you might say, since I scuffled some with Eldred comin' outa Buddy G's 'round closing, what with the ice on the walk & all. Now, Eldred's a kind of an ass, but ever since Fat Allen's got missin' somewheres, he's the only one of 'em left, 'cept for Bickner. So Eldred feels kinda bad 'bout gettin' the best a me, or somethin', an he comes up t' my flat, gets me some supper. Brings pints of peppermint & blackberry. That's how y' know he feels bad or he'd a just brung Aristocrat. That's what he gen'ly drinks, cuz he thinks the name of it puts him somewheres in the upper crust. He even asked Little Bickner t' come over & that's who we figured it was at the door, thank y' Jesus, cuz Eldred's bin tellin' me some kinda tale ain't got no end to it at all, see?
He comes back in the room an' "Hey," he sez, "what was at th' door," he sez, "it ain't Lil Bickner, it was Magdalene. She sez come right now, Lil Bickner's hurtin' some. So I'll jez finish my story an' we . . ."
Well, I can't hardly say nothin'. but I'm tryin' to rise up from outa my chair, tryin' t' get Charlie L.'s old cane, what I won offa him, under me. Eldred sees I'm aimin' to go. ". . . yeah, but my story," he sez, "now where was I?"
"What happened to Little Bickner?!!!" I sez, in that kinda way where y' could see I wasn't just askin' t' pass the time.
"Oh, I dunno, Ralph" he comes back at me as he sits him down in that lazy boy I bought offa Suzy when Fat Allen got missin', "somethin' 'bout down th' block, somethin' 'bout that crazy fella down there, but hey, that ain't my story . . . doncha wanna hear th' end to my story? It's just Magdalene at th' door, it ain't Lil Bickner, an b'sides," he sez, "his story's bout over, sounds like."
Well, I can't get the damn cane under me nohow, so I settle back down. Pour me a little bitta that blackberry.

~ Ralph Murre

what was at the door
it ain't Little Bickner
it was Magdalene
she says come right now
Little Bickner's hurtin some
so I'll finish my story an we . . .
yeah but my story
now where was I?
oh I don't know
somethin bout down the block
that crazy fella
but hey that ain't my story
doncha wanna hear th'end
to my story?
just Magdalene at the door
it ain't Little Bickner
an b'sides his story's bout over
sounds like

Not a dream, exactly, but having just fallen asleep, I woke at two o'clock with this little monologue running around my head. I jotted it down exactly as I saw it, heard it, and went right back to sleep. I have no idea who these characters are, but if you know anyone named Magdalene and Little Bickner, you might want to look in on them this morning. ~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


29 days, on a good year,

and there are so few.
Rhode Island of months,
but big enough
for the long shadows of ground hogs,
the scarlet heart of love,
the big, fat Tuesday before the lean
- big enough –
for the full face of the moon
to smile over at the climbing sun
- big enough –
to allow hope and to start seeds on window sills
- just the right size –
to stand between two-faced January
and surly March
- just the sort –
to shine a bit more light
into a dark corner
while trying to straighten out the mess
the others have made of the calendar,
as sap dreams toward upper branches,
and saps like me, toward spring.

- Ralph Murre

first published in the Wisconsin Poets' Calendar, a few years back