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.)

in filtered sunlight ~ haibun ~ magnetic poetry

in filtered sunlight

I try to make sure that I have agreeable weather when I go kayaking, but sometimes the weather has other ideas.  Yesterday, the sky was completely overcast, but showers weren’t predicted to arrive until late afternoon, with a thunderstorm expected at 10:00pm, so I launched at 10:00am.

I was on the water for five minutes when it started sprinkling,  That lasted for just two minutes, and I continued on my way, planning to paddle almost two miles upstream before heading back.  Rolling thunder in the far distance started about fifteen minutes into the paddle.  Five minutes later, I got to my halfway point, which has a ten foot stone overhang six feet above the water, when it started to rain.  Hard.  I sat, protected, for twenty minutes, enjoying the sound of the rain on the water.

When it stopped raining, I continued on for three-quarters of a mile and was able to see a great blue heron, two green herons, and a deer.  Pleased with the way things turned out, I turned back for the return to my launch point.  That’s when the weather had it’s way, again, leaving me to paddle for twenty-five minutes in a light rain.  If it was trying to ruin my day, it failed.  It was a great day for a paddle.

This haibun is my response to
Open Link Night #247 at dVerse.

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

Wandering Kingfisher Wondering ~ with audio


Wandering Kingfisher Wondering

How long have I been sitting on this branch?
Did I just get here, or am I about to leave?
You know, I don’t particularly mind the flight across the river.
Of course, I’m no starling. I know I can look languid,
rising and falling in flight as I dart along.
After all, there is a view to be admired.
And fish to spy out. There’s one now!

No problem, I’ll get the next one,
but that water sure was refreshing.

Wait, what’s that noise? There, upriver.
It’s that guy in the boat, again.
The one who splashes water on both sides.
What’s with him? Can’t he afford a motor?
It takes him forever to get anywhere.
He’s not just slow. He’s always stopping
to hold that think up to his eye.
But wait, he sees me. Time to dart to the other side.
Oh man, now he’s splashing again.
He’s coming over here now, isn’t he?
You know, he moves a lot faster when that thing is in his lap.
At least he can see where he’s going.
Well, I’m not going to hang around and wait for him.
It’s time to dart downstream. I’ve got fish to catch.

He’s still following me! This is going to be one long morning.

The prompt for NaPoWriMo.netDay 17 is to write a poem
that presents a scene from an unusual point of view.”

Images from Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Male Belted Kingfisher (top) – © S. K. Jones/Macaulay Library
Female Belted Kingfisher (with fish) – © William Higgins/Macaulay Library
Kingfisher audio from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Kayak Moment


Kayak Moment

Beside the bank, out
of the current. Paddle

resting on shaded water.
Kingfisher cocks his head,

darts away. Heron steps
forward, takes flight.

Their calls ring
for a brief moment.

Stillness of the morning air
returns, another reward.

This is an edit of a poem I wrote five years ago. When I first came to WordPress in 2014, it was to participate in National Poetry Writing Month, and Kayak Moment was my post for Day 10. The revision includes one less stanza. And enjambment. I seem to have become rather fond of enjambment. Who knows, this may see further revision, or it may end up, piecemeal, in another poem.

Linda Lee Lyberg is hosting Poetics: Water, Water Everywhere at dVerse, and she asks us to write a poem (any form) about water, that commodity that is so precious to all of us.

Image: Moreau River, Missouri – 06 Jun 2018 (click for larger view/new tab)


Still Waters

Still Waters_1

The Missouri River shoreline, seen from the Moreau River.  The stone behind the heron is a wing dam jutting into the river, constructed to control shore erosion.

Still Waters

Paddle downstream
to the Big Muddy
Don’t stop this time
Enter the river with joy
Be one with its current
Let it take us, winding, on
to the heart stream of this nation
Follow that to the gulf,
and out to the beyond

So my kayak speaks to me

But I turn back upstream,
a hundred yards
on the Missouri,
fight the current
to reach calm waters,
knowing I would be stranded,
had I gone any further

I do love the current,
feeling its life,
experiencing the life
surrounding it
But I love as much
the still water,
the life embracing it

And there is a life
I would not leave behind,
given the choice


This could be thoughts on life in general – the comfort we find in the familiar (and the treasured).  It’s a product of thoughts I had while kayaking yesterday.  And, it actually is about kayaking (for me).
I have no interest in whitewater kayaking.  Something about the potential for uncontrolled submersion with the added risk of collision with large obstacles underwater turns me off to the idea.  I have been underwater with obstructions and low visibility – wreck diving and diving in limited visibility in the Niagara River (hundreds of times), but always considered those to be under controlled conditions.  I also have kayaked on the Niagara River, paddling two miles upstream against a stiff current, and then paddling back with the current.
In fact, I knew a man in his early seventies who had, for years, been making an annual paddle around Grand Island – at least twenty miles, with at least eight of those against the current (due to the island’s shape).  I suppose part of my comfort in paddling on the Niagara was my familiarity with it over nearly sixty years.
But the main difference between the Niagara and Missouri Rivers is that one (the Niagara) maintains a fairly steady level, while the other (the Missouri) has a water level that is always in flux – either through heavy rains and the resultant feed from tributaries or the release of very large quantities of water by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to relieve over-flooding of reservoirs upstream.  Debris, including trees and parts of structures, is always coming downstream, often snagging on the bottom and affecting the current and anything floating on it (especially something as small as a kayak).  The channel would be fine, but how would I get back?
Since I kayak alone, I cannot park a second vehicle downstream to use for return to the launch, which otherwise would make for a long walk home.  The farthest I’ve gone into the Missouri River is less than a half-mile – upstream first, of course, so I have the current pushing me back on the return.
I do enjoy the quiet streams.  They offer plenty of photo opportunities.  Now, to get a waterproof camera!

Still Waters_2

This view of the wing dam shows that the high river level on this date has partially submerged it – creating a hazard to unwitting boaters.

There and Back


My kayak against the shore
And I stroke
Paddle slicing the water
Moving upstream, wind in my face
Not one bird calling in the woods
No eagles or hawks to be seen
Not a blue heron in sight
Where are all the birds?
No kingfisher keeping pace

Just ahead of me
A lone woodpecker on a dead sycamore
Turkey vultures searching, circling
A quiet morning on the river
Riding with the current, slight wind at my back
Paddle slicing the water
And I stroke
My kayak against the shore

Day Twenty-Eight (Take Two) of 2016 NaPoWriMo.
The prompt from napowrimo.net is to write a poem as a story told backwards. Forward, backward… it’s all the same.




kayak today?

56 degrees
hard to pass up for
my December kayak

read poetry?

it will be there
and the next day


spend the morning
chatting with my son
lunch with my baby

kayak afternoon

love the view
bald sycamores
carved bluffs

poetry after dinner

catching up
finding inspiration

all is well