scattered clouds drift by ~ gogyohka

scattered clouds drift by
a beautiful day to be out
a tufted titmouse agrees
sunning turtles splash as I pass
my paddle slices the water


This gogyohka (off-prompt for Day 6 of is my response to Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 220, #Poet’sChoice.

Gogyohka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh)
~ a form of Japanese poetry pioneered by Enta Kusakabe in the 1950s
~ 5-line poetry ~ like tanka, but with freedom from restraints
~ no fixed syllable requirement
~ no conventions regarding content
~ brief lines in keeping with the tradition of Japanese short verse

NaPoWriMo 2021

~ Day 6 ~

Image: The Moreau River in April, Missouri

Elemental Transition

Elemental Transition

Drifting out of its element,
a window on a past life
meets a drifter on a stream.

A gifted memento,
its form a natural fit,
finds a new home.

A new window opens,
an elemental transition.

Driftwood found while kayaking has been married to a stone that was gifted.

The prompt for Day 19 of National/Global Poetry Month at is to write about something found while out and about.

(Click image to see in new tab.)

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank Dwight from Roth Poetry for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. He reminds me that so much of the enjoyment of blogging comes from interaction with other bloggers. The rules of the award include nominating 10 people to participate in the award and listing 10 personal facts. I don’t feel comfortable passing on awards, but I will include 10 bits of trivia about myself.

  • I ran the quarter-mile while in high school. My girlfriend at the time was none too happy when we were late to our senior prom because I spent the day at the state track meet.
  • Until 2012, I lived all of my life within 2 miles of the Niagara River, and within a quarter-mile the last thirty years.
  • Since then, I’ve been living within 3 miles of the Missouri River – blue water exchanged for muddy water.
  • My wedding was held outdoors last year, next to a lighthouse on the shore of Lake Erie. So was my wife’s. 😉
  • I have three children – two sons and a daughter. My sons are a computer engineer and an IT/service tech for an internet provider, and my daughter is a grade school counselor.
  • I was a scuba diver for 17 years. My dives included ice dives, trips to the Caribbean and Rhode Island, and wreck diving in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, the Straits of Macinac, Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River. The majority of my dives were in the Niagara River, finding many things that could only be considered treasures by scuba divers, including bottles, a musket and a 300 pound anchor. I have never gone over Niagara Falls (except 3 times in a helicopter).
  • I was a member of the Teamsters union as a dock worker and truck driver for 33 years, and served as a union steward for 20 of those years.
  • I retired with a 30 year pension when I was 53. I have since spent my time writing poetry, taking photographs, and kayaking.
  • Nearly 60 years old at the time, I once was stopped by U.S. border agents when I was leaving the country to visit Canada. They inspected my car, including prying at my door panels, and emptying the trunk. I guess they thought I looked suspicious. (Canada admitted me, no questions asked, and my return to New York later in the afternoon was non-eventful.) I didn’t tell them about the time I was denied entry into Canada in 1973 – in the days before computer records. Back then, I definitely looked suspicious.
  • I have met more than 40 people in person whom I initially met online, traveling to Turnersville, NJ, Reading, PA, Cleveland, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Youngstown, OH, Erie, PA, Chicago, IL, Peoria, IL, Lansing, MI, San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Shreveport, LA, and Nashville, TN, in the process.

Bonus trivia: My diving ended after my ankle was broken by a 6,000 pound forklift that knocked me over, rolled onto my ankle and stopped there. They say I screamed like a little girl. It’s one of favorite stories.

I encourage anyone interested in telling us facts about themselves to please do so. Tell us about your suspicious activities! 😉

Ken G.

Kayaking Sights

Kayaking Sights

Back in March 2017, I posted a blog (with a video) about kayaking monthly, explaining how I make the videos to post on Facebook as a way to stay connected to my family in Ohio and Western New York. Pat R. (jazzytower/thoughts and entanglements) suggested a photo blog showing some of the wildlife and sights that I see. I’ve finally organized my kayaking photos (which meant checking a LOT of folders on my hard drives – I haven’t been as organized as I should be) and here is that blog, fourteen months later!

(Clicking on each photo will open a tab with a larger view.)

I’ll start with a photo from Western New York. Before moving to Missouri, I took one last long paddle upstream on a section of Ellicott Creek that I hadn’t seen before from the water. It passes through the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) – actually in a suburb, Amherst. I’m glad that I did, because I took one of my favorite photos on that creek – with my cellphone!

Stream Serenity

Since moving to Missouri, I’ve continued to stay mostly in small streams and rivers. If I launch in the Missouri, I would need to make a “round trip,” paddling forever against the current. Paddling alone, I can’t leave one car at the exit point and take my kayak to a launch point upstream. I’ve paddled into the Missouri River and gone upstream a short distance (tough, against the current) to drift/paddle back downstream to the stream I started in, but that’s it. To control the buildup of silt in the Missouri (and to control bank erosion) the Army Corp of Engineers constructs stone wing dams. Sometimes a couple hundred feet long, they angle from the shore to direct the current. Even with these, dredging to maintain a channel is a year-round project.

Wing Dam.jpg

Occasionally, I will paddle on the Osage River. It’s half as wide as the Missouri, and the current is mild enough that I can paddle two to four miles upstream without any problem. I don’t often paddle late in the day, but this sunset on the Osage is one of my favorite photos. The farm field beyond the trees was covered in smoke (which drifted across the river at times) from a controlled burn.

Forest Afire

The Osage River and many of the other rivers and smaller streams have sections that run right next to tall limestone bluffs. Missouri is known for its caves, so it’s not unusual to see small caves in those bluffs.

Bluff Caves

Under Cover

I can count on seeing wildlife on most river paddles. Great blue herons, turtles and turkey vultures are three creatures I see nearly every time (except December on into March for turtles and herons).

Heron Lookout

Terrapin Camo

Embracing the Wind

A green heron is much smaller than a great blue heron, about the size of a crow.

Green Heron

I may not see bald eagles soaring over the smaller streams as often as I do over the Missouri and the Osage, but I’m more likely to see one perched closer to the water of those streams.

Regal Pose.jpg

This juvenile bald eagle (below) sat on a branch twenty-five feet above a stream, and dropped into the water just ahead of me to catch a catfish in shallow water, struggling to get it to shore.



And finally, some creatures that I see while kayaking are a little more fantastic than others.

Thirst Quencher

Ken G.

killdeer runs on shore ~ haibun

killdeer runs on shore

Warm spring days. 78 yesterday. 86 today. Hiking yesterday. Kayaking today. Photography both days. Watch killdeer (small shore bird) today, moving too fast for the camera, and a stray memory finds its way home. Last year Pat (thoughts and entanglements) suggested that I post a blog of photos I’ve taken while kayaking. I head home to do that.

killdeer runs on shore
footprints go from mud to sky
water bug flying

The optional prompt for Day 12 of National/Global Poetry Writing Month is to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. No leaves on the trees yet, but plenty of wildlife while kayaking today, including turtles and Canada Geese.

kildeer runs on shore
NaPoWriMo 2018

Meet the Man Who Talks to Himself About the Weather

I started vlogging – video blogging – shortly after I retired in 2006. It gave me an opportunity to connect with people across the country and around the world. Traveling around the country, I went on to meet more than 50 of those vloggers in person, between 2009 and 2014.

Talking to the camera about things that were important to me was a way to sort through my thoughts, but it became a sort of hobby, and my vlogs included video poems and collaborations with other vloggers on videos about recent events in the news, as well as creative projects. Many of my vlogs were recorded as I sat, walked, biked and kayaked along the Niagara River, which led to a change of my screen name to rivrvlogr in 2008. At the height of my obsession with vlogging, 2010-2011, I made more than 540 videos in 24 months.

My production of videos diminished gradually, until I was making just two vlogs per month, and then tapered right off, so that I usually upload one a month. Those are my kayak vlogs. I share them with a small community, but the main reason I make them is to share with my family on Facebook.

My name is Ken, and I’m a (recovered) vlogger.

Kayak Moment

Floating against the bank,
out of the current

Paddle resting
on shaded water

Kingfisher cocks his head,
peers at me, then darts away

Heron on opposite shore
steps forward, takes flight

Calls of both birds
ring for a brief moment

Stillness of the morning air
returns, another reward

This poem first appeared her in April 2014.



In a slipstream
almost like a dream
towering sycamore
overhead a bird of lore
watches, waits as I drift by
my gaze held high
not daring to shift
or lift
my paddle, I raise my lens
my friends
need to witness
the beauty of this
scene that plays out
no doubt
of the beauty
there before me

While I was kayaking this week, a juvenile Bald Eagle sat overhead in a sycamore. As I reached for my camera, it dropped into the water and snatched a fish. It floundered the short distance to the shore, where it dug into its meal. As I came even with it in the water, it flew to the next tree downstream to dry its feathers and watch me drift by.

Uncharted Waters

Uncharted Waters

Departing Cranes, by Józef Chełmoński

Uncharted Waters

They call it “uncharted waters,” but I think it should be “health risk to all who enter here.” Once you see the place, you’ll know what I’m talking about. With the sight and smell, who would want to spend the time necessary to chart the area?

My first, and only time, kayaking there, I was impressed by the sight of thousand of cranes flying overhead as I launched in the small creek that leads into the bay. Anticipating some genuine Kodak moments, that secluded area at the south end of the lake has been on my to-do list for some time.

Within fifteen minutes, I came within sight, and scent, of the marsh at the edge of the bay. The further I went, the worse it became. As I passed from reeds clogged with bird droppings into what should have been open water, I was greeted by a solid layer of scum with an odor that will be burned into my senses for years to come.

Yes, the sight of flocks of cranes taking flight and landing was impressive, but the lens cap never came off my camera. From now on, I’ll be staying in charted waters.

Micro-fiction challenge or fabricated commentary?  Either way, this is my response to  Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #3: Shapes in the mist, inspired by Departing Cranes,by Józef Chełmoński, and with a limit of 200 words (here, 200).  The painting definitely was an inspiration, but I was cleaning our carpets with a RugDoctor when the idea came to me, so there is that.

Image source: Wikipedia


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.