where she will ~ magnetic poetry

where she will

rain falls
water rises
a river flows where she will
with no regard for man
or his needs
a course never by choice
ever by circumstance


If you want to try magnetic poetry, you can do it online, here.

Background image: Missouri River at Jefferson City, Missouri – 06 June 2019
(click image for larger view in new tab)

Bars Rattling

Bars Rattling

Trees on the roof, vines growing
from the windows, the only life
in a prison closed in the Flood of ’93,
the big one. Imagine it’s haunted,
calling to the river. Listen closely.
The river is back, and the bars
are rattling underwater. Waves
lap at the walls in response,
and the vines flourish.

Taken March 23, 1986 and found at Vox Magazine.

Photo found at Columbia Daily Tribune.

Photo found at Vox Magazine.

Built in 1926 in an area then known as Cedar City, Renz Prison Farm was part of the Missouri prison system, becoming an all women’s prison by 1990. Standing on the Missouri River floodplain and abandoned during the Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993, when the river remained above flood stage for more than 60 days, it sits empty. The land is now privately owned, and the building is surrounded by 500 acres of farmland (and the trees and vines that have taken hold). Costly asbestos removal stands in the way of any demolition. Marked “No Trespassing,” the building is known to be visited by “urban explorers,” and is used occasionally by law enforcement for active shooter training. Current flood waters on the Missouri river are six feet lower than the 1993 level, but still 9 feet above flood stage, so the “lake” surrounding the prison likely will be around for a few more days.

1993 flood photos, with Jefferson City across the bridge in the distance.

The top photo is mine, taken May 27, 2019.
Graph and 1993 flood images found at National Weather Service.
(Clicking on each photo will open a tab with a larger view.)

Ken G.

Leaves in the Stream

Leaves in the Stream

What are breadth and width
to a river?  Increase a channel’s depth,
yet curtail navigation.  Obstacles, seen
and unseen, arise.  Shallows appear
that did not exist.  Who are we
to question rain?  The river’s course
was set, yet always in flux,
long before our arrival.  Our standards
are but impositions.  We are
just leaves in the stream.

The top two photos are of the Missouri River at Jefferson City, Missouri. River levels have been fluctuating at or above flood stage for several weeks. It’s latest crest was yesterday, at 31.8 feet, and was the “ninth largest flood” for this area. This view is of North Jefferson City. It lies within city limits and is across the river (and in another county) from the largest portion of the state capital. It’s predominantly farmland (with some homes) and industrial, and is the location of the city’s airport. The area was evacuated a couple of days ago, and the airport was closed. It was once known as Cedar City, but the flood of 1993 wiped out the small community that existed there, leaving just a couple of homes. Just past the bridge markings in the photo is Noren Access, a city park that includes a 100 foot-long boat ramp. The top of the ramp is about 6 feet underwater. Beyond the submerged ramp is a levee (barely showing behind the trees) that extends for miles and was breached, leaving a 30-40 foot gap. The flat level of water in the distance is a farm field that would be dry, if not for the high water.

Looking back through my photos, it seems I’m only drawn to photograph this section of the river during exceptional conditions, but they show that farm field in the background. Below is a photo of the ice choked river of winter, with a level 25 feet lower and the full boat ramp visible. Below that is an example of the heavy fog that can swallow the river, at times. The last photo is looking across the river as kayakers stop for a rest and check-in during the “Missouri American Water MR340,” an annual 340 mile endurance race that is paddled from Kansas City to St. Charles (near St. Louis) and must be completed within 88 hours.

The bridge markings do not indicate depth. They indicate clearance, as the river is open to barge traffic during shipping season. The river is dredged on a regular basis to maintain a channel with a minimum depth of 9 feet, but flood stage for this section is 23 feet. At that point there is minor flooding along Wears Creek, which extends into the city from the river and past light industry and a couple of homes. The State Capitol and downtown are elevated, but this is a hilly city, and during this flood many of the low-lying parking lots used by state employees were underwater.

We have our extremes. Last week it was tornadoes. For the past month it’s been flooding, with the current levels the highest I’ve seen in my 6 years here. 2013 was pretty close, but the state experienced a drought that crippled farmers just a year before. That’s Missouri.

Graph found at National Weather Service.
(Clicking on each photo will open a tab with a larger view.)

Ken G.