Ralph Murre


Ralph Murre occasionally tears himself away from his impossibly busy schedule of daydreaming to try to write The Good Poem, and though it continues to elude him, many of his attempts have been published in various journals and reviews around the country and beyond, in several anthologies, and in two of his own books. When all else fails, he posts something on his blog, the “Arem Arvinson Log,” atcaparem.blogspot.com.

Psalms (Little Eagle Press, 2008). Poetry and Art, $12 plus $3 S&H, e-mail for ordering details.


Part of the Deal

was that you owed a good death.
Whether you were a good guy
or not, you had to die right.
If I came out from behind
something and pointed my finger
and said bang! before you did
and cried gotcha, you might
say no y’didn’t or gotcha
first y’dirty Nazi,
but in the end, we all had to die
with awful groaning and kicking
and many spasms and rolling
back of eyeballs and ultimately,
as anybody who’s ever seen
a dead guy knows, the tongue
must protrude, skewed
from a corner of the bluish lips.
And then, you had to stay
really still and painfully contorted
‘til you got bored and came back
to fight again or play red rover.
But it was not part of the deal
in the bang-you’re-dead wars
of South Sixth Street
that you got your balls shot off
or came back to play
wheelchair red rover.
Nobody on our street said
the way it happened when some
of us fought on other streets.
No amputees on Sixth.
No psych ward on Ohio Avenue.

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