Wednesday, April 23, 2014

small talk



Little Eagle Press

~ proudly presents ~

small talk

A fine, new book of the shorter poems of Bruce Dethlefsen,
past Poet Laureate of Wisconsin.   Here’s your chance to see what a terrific writer can say in ten lines or less, and to see why Little Eagle, always very selective, jumped at the chance to publish this jewel of a manuscript.  There’s a lot of wry humor in these 92 pages, as well as good doses of poignancy and pathos.  Add a liberal sprinkling of the drawings of Ralph Murre, and we feel you’ll agree that this is a winning text.

a sample:

1950

at night
my mother bathed me in a white tub
scrubbed me with white soap
rubbed me in a white towel
hugged and plugged me
into pajamas and the white sheets

an act so kind
so common
it barely even happened


small talk can be ordered directly from the author

Bruce Dethlefsen
422 Lawrence Street
Westfield, WI   53964

at $15. per copy, plus $3. for shipping & handling.
( For shipping fees on orders of multiple copies, please



Thursday, April 17, 2014

all it has to be



this river
is not long
nor swift
nor all that deep
but it flows true
from dream to dream
and it’s all it has to be
and it does all a river needs to do


~ ralph murre

Monday, April 07, 2014

Gone Blind -- Arvinson Log post # 600



Gone Blind  (2014)
                                                                                            
Justice! they cry
What’s it mean? sez I
ain’t it just another name for revenge?
She’s often portrayed
as a blind chick with a sword
as untoward as blind rage
or blind drunk on a binge
Oh, she looks good
sittin’ here on this page
but she lights fires, you know
and if we’re not burnt
we’ll be singed
To invite her
we’re gonna need courage

let us try
one more time
for courage

Justice! they cry
Save me from it, sez I
or I and my kind
will swing in the breeze
and a lonely trumpet play
and the harpies will
tug at our flesh
‘til sometime late in the day
if anyone knows
that we aren’t on our knees
begging the unknown in the sky
begging, please
Let us try
one more time
for courage, for courage

Let us try
one more time
for courage

For I and my kind
by choice have gone blind
and our names
are signed to the checks
and our names are in the fields
of oil and blood
and our spirits
are dragged through the mud
as Old Glory waves
and we salute the ones
who send children
We salute, and dig graves
for our children

Let us try
one more time
for courage

Justice! they cry
but does she ever forgive?
And if it’s an eye
for an eye
how will grandchildren live?
Just look at her there
Sweet Justice – how fair
though she seems only to care
for the sound of alarms
It takes courage, too
to not take up arms
it takes courage to say
Let her go, now
we’ll start new

let us try
one more time
for courage



~ Ralph Murre

Friday, March 21, 2014

at evening



western

could I be
a sundown man
enfold you
unfold you
the colored rays
of our shining
the western sky
at evening?


~ ralph murre

Sunday, March 02, 2014

as Mardi Gras approaches



Delta Blues

There, on the edge of the shelf,
in the sad and beautiful frames of generations,
the black and white portraits of us,
the sepia of our flesh,
the glisten and the dance.
There, the mouth of Old Man River
speaks to the sea of a continent stolen,
but Mother Ocean says, “Africa
I’m here for her children. Europa –
I’m here for her children.  And Asia’s,”
she says.  There,
where those two meet day in and out,
night after night, in throes
of love and fight and blows
of gods of wind, there
in a mixed-blood flood,
she takes away a few of those
she’s brought on her broad back,
but carries them now in her womb
from that Crescent City where the water
rises above the tombs.

“Shall we gather . . .”, sings the old man,
“On that beautiful shore . . .”, says the sea.

~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Grandfathers



the grandfathers
their hands flinty with work
reaching down to take mine

smell of oil and liniment and wool
smoke rising
snow falling

their heavy shovels
and plaid coats
the names of old countries


~ Ralph Murre

If that sounds like an old one to any of you, well, it is.  Kinda.  In the spirit of revise, revise, revise, I boiled a fair to middlin' nineteen lines down to nine, and I think I like it even better. If I keep going this way, someday, I'll say nothing at all, and that may be best.   ~ RM

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

In That House



In That House
". . . any room was full       
of such choreography . . ."
~ Michael Ondaatje
each of the chambers
of his heart
held a dance
his inner ear
a symphony
the optic nerve
told of roses
and rose windows
remembering that day
in that far away
when her eyes whispered
maybe

and still
after
the quick step
of all these
yesterdays
a waltzing
and that fox
still trotting
the way she does
in that house
full of the choreography
of whispered
yes



~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gratitude in Dark December



There's nothing more gratifying for a writer, I suppose, than to be read -- and to have a person or two in some way moved by the reading.  A couple of years ago, I penned "In Dark December" which has been published here and there in print and on line, and which I've read at several events.  Well -- people seem to like it and it's been spreading on the internet and by emails and now I get references to the piece from far and wide. Thanks to friend Kris Thacher for the above photo, showing the poem posted on the Poetry Pole on Candelaria Road in Albuquerque, New Mexico; a far piece from my digs in Northeast Wisconsin.  Sometimes, I think, a piece of writing can be bigger than its author, and that's certainly how I feel about this poem.  Grateful to have had my pen on paper -- my hook in the water -- when this one came swimming by.  Grateful, too, for the friends, new and old, who have helped keep this alive.    ~ RM

In Dark December
by Ralph Murre

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.

~ first published in Peninsula Pulse                                                        


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Heaven



I don't know about the streets of Heaven, nor am I likely to find out -- but parts of County Trunk Q were paved with gold this morning as a sheath of shed tamarack needles clung to the wetted roadway.  That's good enough for me.     ~ RM

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hallows Eve




With appropriate dark
And this damp chill
Tomorrow begins November
We shall wear brave masks tonight

RM

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Islands


Islands

No man, you tell me, but everyman, I tell you,
and woman and boat, every Wisconsin farmhouse
and apartment in the Bronx; an island.

That blue circle of horizon, the dangerous passage,
those days the ferry cannot cross from my shores
to the quiet cove of yours.  The sea between.


~ Ralph Murre

That's the little tug Neverwas in my sketch above, departing Rock Island, Wisconsin, in the early afternoon of long ago, and getting a friendly wave from an unidentified guest at the Thordarson Boathouse, where Sharon Auberle and I were recently privileged to read to a sizable and receptive audience from our book Wind Where Music Was.  Headliner on the program was ferryman Richard Purinton, who was introducing his Thordarson and Rock Island, an absolute "must read" for anyone interested in the history of the region and the biography of the man.  I predict that this wonderfully researched volume will be the standard text on the topic for a long time to come.     ~ RM  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Falling

digitally derived from seed co. photo


Like a Melon, Love.

She weighed it in her hand
in her heart
this chance
this could be

as a cantaloupe
this fruit
this thing
bought on faith
before it could be
cut open.

She
smelled of it
felt of it
fell.

~ Ralph Murre


That first line (italicized) is a snippet
borrowed from Louis de Bernieres

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Deity



Proud to present photographic proof, at last, that there is Someone Up There, a man at the controls, if you will.  Look very closely and you'll note that He, like the rest of us, is scratching His head as He looks at the good old U.S. of A.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Remembering My Education



On the First Day

Coy Colleen
goes not unnoticed
by slack-jawed juniors
and in the sky
mares’ tails
chased by stallions

their thunderhead bluster
their temporary insanity



~ Ralph Murre

Friday, August 09, 2013

Alignment




One Day at Stonehenge

pretty much like another
the August sun

and over there
a couple

making promises
beyond a prayer

and praying
for something fortuitous

in this once
in their lifetime

alignment of stones
and stars

and over there
the gods

and all
the rest



~ Ralph Murre

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Destiny



Sweets

There’s a guy on the radio
singing about Sweet Destiny
as though she’s bringing
something more palatable
than the just desserts I see.

     Could be.
          Could be.

Soon enough, I guess
we’ll be at Destiny’s table.
Don’t rush me
toward that sweet reward.



~ Ralph Murre

Sunday, July 28, 2013

somewhere a bell



somewhere a bell

and within
a dim and smoky lantern

swinging still
from its nail

the ship
plowing forever

into night
the sea

vastly
unimpressed

the stars still
distant

the universe still
expanding

~ ralph murre

Friday, July 19, 2013

More Crude Red Boats in The Harbor


Scout’s Honor

Merit badges for tying knots -
the bowline, the sheepshank, the clove hitch.
Merit badges for whittling the likenesses
of dead presidents and woodland animals, and
of course, for assistance given to the feeble
in their never-ending quest to cross the road.

Maybe they should keep handing them out.

The badge for showing up every day
right down to the day they tell you
not to show up tomorrow.
A merit badge for the day
your infant son needs major surgery.
Another for that day he’s grown
and buys his first motorcycle.
Badges for each of your daughter’s tattoos
and piercings. Diamond insets
if you can’t really mention what’s been pierced.
A merit badge, or, at least, a colorful neckerchief
as your party loses another one.
( But it could be taken back if you move to Canada.)
Bronze medals for burying parents.
Silver for friends.
You’d rather die than win the gold.
A merit badge and letter of commendation
the day you actually give up your abuse
of anything, or anyone.
And a little badge of semi-precious material
for every day that you get out of bed
and wear a brave costume.
One for that confident smile on your face
as your knees tremble beneath the table.


                                                               ~ Ralph Murre

Good news. That's just a sample poem from my first book, Crude Red Boat, which has been out of print for a while and pretty hard to find.  But.  I've just been able to purchase some archived copies from the estate of Norbert Blei.  His Cross + Roads Press was the publisher.   He'd probably be disappointed to know that I was letting any of them go for the cover price, but that's just what I'm doing.  I'll send out a few of them for $10 plus $3 for shipping and handling, and when I feel my own supplies have become dangerously low, once again, the price will escalate sharply.  Interested?  Drop me a line at littleeaglepress@gmail.com (put Crude Red Boat in the subject line).  Any of my later books also still available at that address.     ~ RM

Monday, July 08, 2013

Valuables

detail: louis sullivan bank - sidney, ohio






the banker asks
what use is a butterfly
having forgotten his childhood
the poet asks
what use is a bank
having forgotten his old age

~ arem

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Pleasant



At his memorial

how pleasant we all are

dressed nice
a glass of wine
the blue of the sky

these shimmering women
this sultry day
almost as if

these fine shirted men
this striped awning
just as if

on a holiday
as if he'll be in
the Adirondacks

for the summer
Europe,  maybe
Bon Voyage!

how pleasant



~ Ralph Murre


It may be too much, all this going on for the passing of one friend.  I'd promise to stop soon, but I may not keep that promise.    ~ RM

Sunday, June 30, 2013

catnap

slipaway 
sleepaway
sere
summer
sunday
stalk
supper
sometime
later

~
r.m.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yes, the Moon in June



that moon there
and the poet
with nothing to say?

~ arem




just having a little fun with the new camera, some old software     ~ R.M.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Kid, The Old Man

photo: valerie murre-schlick, 1969


But what do you get the man who has nothing for Father's Day?  A son.  Received 15 June 1969, Father's Day that year, Morgan, my firstborn, and he, today, celebrating the holiday himself for the eighteenth time as the celebrated.  But for big, round glasses and a well-waxed handlebar moustache, he still looks about the same, though taller.  I'm shorter, fatter, balder.  Still proud of my kids, their kids.  Still getting accustomed to being The Old Man. 

Just a moment, now, to thank Arvin and Daniel and Cornelius and all those grandfathers' grandfathers back to Lieven Murre, born in 1630, and his grandfathers, whose names I do not know.

~ R.M.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Survivor


In the part of town     staggering     toward some awaited gentrification
Al's Hamburger     doing the same thing since '34     with little applause I'll bet
no ovation     Not much change after the depression     the second war
There's a notice posted     high on the white wall     near the white ceiling

This is not
BURGER KING
You don't get it your way.
You take it my way
or you don't get
the damn thing.

Hamburgers shall have onions fried or raw     that's the decree     Al's word is law
and that's O.K. with me

~ Ralph Murre

Friday, June 07, 2013

No Rush



How can it be 
that the first moose
in the wild I'd ever see
would appear
at that moment
I'd bought a new camera,
dropped in the power,
and installed the memory?

And how can it be
that the first moose
in the wild I'd ever see
had the time
in that forest
to stand and wait for me?
Had the moose nowhere
more important to be?

And didn't the moose
(and the muse)
deserve better poetry?


(of course you deserve better, too, but I had hoped maybe my first-ever moose photo would do)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Another Memorial




Off Blackhawk Road

Blackhawk, old warrior
outnumbered by European starlings,
is that you, or your namesake,
perched high on that cottonwood branch?
Do you see me here on the land?
I think you’d still know it –
this path on this island of sand.
A creek still flows.
The deer still drink the cool of it.
But Blackhawk, hear the mourning dove mourn;
don’t fly back to that little lake.

In a hundred summers, the trees may return
that the damned fool clear-cut for a view.

Let his sons, for a hundred winters,
have nothing to burn.  Hell,
let his daughters freeze with them, too.
Or is that unkind, Blackhawk?
Too hawkish a thought for my mourning dove mind?
There’s a warning of chick-a-dee-dee.
Now, a racket of crows
and the waxwings wax alarming.
Can’t I relax?  After all,
a creek still flows
and the deer still drink the cool of it.

~ Ralph Murre

Sunday, May 19, 2013

in this kind of light


and always
on a bench
on the dock
on this kind of day
in this kind of light
a few old men
buttoned in
their dark coats
and dispositions
listening
to each others'
long stories
their hearing aids
turned off

~ ralph murre