Where the River Bends ~ ghazal

Five days ago, I wrote two versions of Where the River Bends as a response to MTB: To turn again, about turn again, where we were asked to write a poem using epiphora – repeatedly using the same words to end lines. When a few readers (Merril, Kerfe & Ron.) pointed out how close the first version is to a ghazal I decided to write a third version. I’ve considered internal rhyme within the second line of each stanza of a ghazal to be optional, but this time I have met that requirement. I close here with the original and notes on the ghazal.

How to Paddle Upstream

Where the River Bends

Where the river bends I trail my paddle,
where the river bends yet lends itself to my paddle.

On trees long dead rising from the river,
turtles scatter, water spatters far from my paddle.

Heron on the shore leaps to stately flight
as my kayak nears and it hears my paddle.

I turn for home, thankful for all the gifts
beneath passing oaks, as I stroke my paddle.

A boat passes and a fisherman nods his head.
I ken, as the river bends, and raise my paddle.


Where the River Bends

Where the river bends I trail my paddle,
where the river bends yet meets my paddle.

On trees, submerged yet breaking water,
turtles scatter when they see my paddle.

Heron standing on the shore leaps to stately flight
with broad wing-strokes when it hears my paddle.

I turn for home, thankful for all the gifts
granted today with each stroke of my paddle.

A fisherman waves as his boat passes
where the river bends, and I raise my paddle.

~ five or more couplets, the same length, meter not required
~ first couplet rhymes; 1 to 3 words in 2nd lines repeated;
       rhyme – aA bA cA dA eA
~ (optional) internal rhyme in second lines, preceding repeated rhyme
~ possible naming or reference to author in last couplet
~ traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions,
       ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians

Alleging Contentment

Alleging Contentment

Turning this way and that, heading
down a stream with no one direction,
leaves streaming by at a leisurely pace,
I arrive at my favorite spot on the river
beneath a limestone ledge that extends
twelve feet from a small bluff.

Caving without going underground,
I sit and enjoy the breeze that flows
beneath the rock ceiling shading me
and become one more rock in the river,
invisible to the world out there in the sun
as I watch a heron fishing on the shore
and turtles sunning themselves on a log.

Timing my stay long just long enough
to head home, I raise my paddle and push
myself out of the shade, startling the heron.
Winging its way downstream, it passes over
the turtles, each one splashing into the water.
Paddling out into the sun, I turn upstream,
kayaking my way back home.

This is my response to Meet the bar, verbing, the prompt from Björn that asks us
to write a poem that uses verbs we have made from nouns. While I have not
created any new verbs, I have used at least twelve words
that already exist as both noun and verb:
turning, heading, streaming, caving, shading, fishing, sunning,
timing, winging, paddling, splashing, & kayaking
(with a play on words in the title)


Making Their Own Breeze ~ with audio

Making Their Own Breeze

The water of the Moreau River,
as motionless as the leaves of the giant sycamore
half-submerged with roots projecting skyward,
victim of spring’s high waters but determined
to send nourishment to branches willing
those leaves to life, and as still as the air
on this hot August day as my kayak sits
under a stone ledge, too high for me to reach
when volume and current are stolen by the recent
lack of rain, still feels cool to the touch in this shade
I have found, shared by the bank swallows darting
to their nests and back into the sunlight, no breeze
needed for their aerial antics as they skim the water
for a drink, then rocket up, only to turn abruptly
to feed in flights that would make any bat proud,
all of this reflected in that still water of the Moreau.

This poem is my response to Poetics: Flight of Fancy,
the prompt from Laura at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

getting my outdoors

getting my outdoors

highs in the nineties, damn hot
in the sun, past two weeks
same for the next week

even 8am sees high seventies
reading the paper on the porch
at 7am the extent of my outdoors

damn humidity makes it no better
might as well be raining and it does
on and off, with rain tonight

enough is enough
if the rain stops
in the morning I’ll be on the water

hugging the bank
hugging the shade,
getting my outdoors

Image: The gar were splashing last month
(Video screenshot – click for larger view in new tab)

River Distancing ~ with audio

River Distancing

My kayak glides on the surface, the paddle
caressing the water in a smooth, easy rhythm,
while the sun glints off each ripple leaving the bow.

An oriole crosses the stream, is soon gone in the brush.
Woodpeckers and cardinals call out as crows
take flight. Turkey vultures circle lazily overhead.

Sunbathing turtles ignore my presence,
until my waves reach them, their plop into the water
one small part of the harmony surrounding me.

Closer to nature is my kind of social distancing.

Here’s my poem for the day, once more off prompt on Day 8
of National/Global Poetry Writing Month.
Shared at napowrimo.net.



Paddle paused, the kayak continues
drifting upstream, the mild current
offering little resistance. The wake
continues towards shore, calmer
in its own wake, until rippled
reflections become serene,
the kayak still, and the waves
only a memory.

This is my response to Poetics: Impermanence
the prompt from Merril at dVerse Poets Pub.

Image: Moreau River, Missouri, June 2018
(click image for larger view in new tab)

Placid Waters ~ quadrille

Placid Waters

Wild only in its freedom,
there is no white water here,
just a paddle caressing
its surface, a stillness
marred only by ripples
of trees dancing as they reach
from the bow of a kayak
to the shore that holds
steadfast their stately canopy.

This is my response to Quadrille #96: Wild Monday — the prompt from Kim at dVerse, which is to use the word wild in a 44-word poem that does not require meter or rhyme.

Image: Ellicott Creek, Amherst New York
(click image for larger view in new tab)

Heartbeat on Wing

Heartbeat on Wing

Floating on the river, tree-lined
stream, really, far shore just sixty feet away,
as bald eagle, far upstream, leaves its perch.
Each wing beat bringing it closer, regal profile
passing within fifty feet. Its graceful exit
over, held as a lasting impression.

The image, above, is the crop of a frame of video taken on the Moreau River, Missouri, October 4, 2019. My kayak was resting on an underwater ledge, immediately to the left of the angled rock (photo below). I was stable and partially shielded from view, but framing and focus at full zoom were hard to maintain, especially as I panned to track its approach and passing. The angled rock likely is broken from a nearby overhanging ledge that has numerous rocks lying in the water below. (These images also are cropped from frames of the same video.)