Bruised Ego

Bruised Ego

This precaution, a prevention
of future cognitive lapses –
I do understand the concept,
having once briefly lapsed
in cognitive function –
does not confuse me,
yet it confounds me.

My blood is now thinner
and rises more swiftly
to the surface, and so the scars
I wear migrate, week by week.

This week, it’s a purple badge
on each arm, from elbow to wrist,
arms not meant to be squeezed
into a tight space to retrieve something
nearly irretrievable. I bump the table,
or a door frame, and my hip or shoulder
wears the bright blush of embarrassment.

A scratch on my finger,
so minor as to go unnoticed,
leaves a red trail
of directional dots
on the kitchen floor.
If I were donating blood,
a pinprick would suffice.

Spatial orientation, once a given,
seems to have been deleted
from my résumé. A victim
of that previous cognitive lapse?
If only I could remember
to be more careful.

I had a TIA in late 2019 with no further developments, but since I’m a borderline candidate for surgery to correct my patent foramen ovale (PFO) , which was diagnosed in 2020 and had allowed a small clot to go to my brain, my cardiologist recently prescribed a blood thinner to reduce the risk of any more TIAs. (It was my decision to forego surgery because of risk due to age.)

Off prompt, but shared with Day 27 of


A Maid in the Mist ~ aisling

A Maid in the Mist

I stand on the shore of the Niagara,
beside a stand of reeds,
dawn shedding its light dimly
through morning fog.
On a rock amid those cattails,
a black-crested night heron
turns its red eye towards me,
and the bird’s shape shifts
until I’m faced by a maiden
in a simple gown of gray and white
that shifts like the wings
of the bird that first greeted me.
Lelawala, Maid of the Mist, speaks.

Long was I troubled by the return
of the snake of my time, that serpent
that sought to poison these waters,
and so my people. Only by the will
of the Thunder God was it defeated,
its great body forming the rim
of the mighty falls. But your snake
is not mine. It is industry.

While your neighbors to the north
have long sought to maintain their shore
as a parkway, it took long decades
for your people to recognize the toll
imposed by industry. The renewed state
of that shore must be a reminder
to never again let that snake raise its head.

I realize that the fog has thinned
in the morning light, and that,
once again, I am eyed by that heron,
which turns from me to take flight.

I wake, and I’m left with a fading memory,
an early morning mist that dissipates
in a warm October sunrise as the air loses
its grasp on the river, lets it slip back
into its already cooling depths,
that air now filled with sunlight.

This is my response to Day 25 at, where we are challenged to write in the poetic form known as aisling, which was developed in Ireland. Maureen tells us that “an aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.”

The Niagara River forms a portion of the border between the United States and Canada. While Ontario has long maintained a parkway along the entire length of the river, New York’s shore from Lake Erie to Niagara Falls has been home to all kinds of industry, from chemical factories to steel and paper mills to landfills. Many of those plants are gone, and conservation efforts have cleaned the shoreline and restored habitats. In both countries, the Maid of the Mist is recognized as a symbol of Niagara Falls. Details of the legend can be found here.

 Image: black-crested night Heron on the Niagara River, at dusk
~ click for larger view in new tab ~

fluid currency

fluid currency

more than ash
innumerable particles
floating, at last
in the river
the river in me
boundless energy
in the rush of rapid descent
flowing past fond memories
familiar shores
ever onward, outward
to a world without borders
one with the big expanse

This poem is my second response to Quadrille night: ashes to ashes, the prompt from Sarah at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use a form of the word ash in a 44-word poem (excluding title), with no required meter or rhyme.

From boating to diving, to kayaking, to just sitting on the shore, I’ve always thought of the Niagara River as my home. My children have promised to scatter my ashes in the river. One last river dive, this time over Niagara Falls, will be mine before I eventually flow towards the sea.




Gorgeous_1Consider the river that cares not
what man thinks of it, churning
over obstacles that will not impede it
in a gorgeous canyon, miles from
a roaring cataract yet filled with the sound
of a rapid staccato best heard at the water’s edge,
that edge approached with peril for it cares not
what safety one desires when near, its own safety
never at stake, raging as it does at the disservice
served upon it, the waters it carries never truly clean,
yet powerless, despite its power, to change that course.

Gorgeous_2Now walk the trails that lie beside it, trails
that care not whether they are trod by soled feet
or the pads of wildlife content to share
with those who understand the fragile nature
of their home, this pocket of green. Marvel
at the escarpment that once was the falls
as the river wore at its limestone foundation
in its inexorable march to the current home
of those falls. Move briefly through shadow
between boulders larger than a house,
cleaved from the side of the wall towering
above you, as you wind your way to the river.

Georgeous_3Watch a heron pull a fish from the water as you sit
on the rocks at the river’s edge, then gaze
at the roiling water beside you, sun glinting
from the foam of the rapids. Follow that light
to see the sun approach the crest of the gorge,
all the while taking in the green that surrounds you,
green that would not be had it not been preserved
by those who understand its fragile nature.

Niagara Glen Map


This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: Sanctuary, a challenge now closed, so I’m sharing it with earthweal open link weekend #71.

The Niagara River, the strait of water between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, carries all of the water of the upper Great Lakes. Much of the thirty-six mile length of the river was lined with industry, including within the gorge below Niagara Falls. The majority of that industry is gone, with the few remaining on the US side in the stretch north of Buffalo. While stricter regulations and ambitious cleanup campaigns, from the late twentieth century onward, reversed much of the degradation of the lakes during the industrial era, toxic sediments still exist and agricultural runoff remains a serious problem. The Canadian side of the Niagara River is a true parkway, maintained by Niagara Parks of Ontario. Beyond the falls, from the whirlpool to the end of the gorge is Niagara Glen, where a stairway descends the gorge wall to join four miles of trails that lead to the river’s edge as they wind through a Carolinian forest. When I lived in New York, I often crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls, just to walk those trails. The rapids within the gorge range from Class III to Class V.

~ click any image for a larger view in a new tab ~

Re-Crossing Rivers

The original ~ the second poem I posted here at WordPress, 02 April 2014:

Crossing Rivers

late March
under a cloudy sky
bundled in my mother’s arms
feeling the roar
of the mighty falls

early morning light
on the bank of the river
waters calm
my father’s float
drifting in the current,
bobbing with each tiny bite

weightless, beneath the surface
sunlight diffused at depth
freedom imagined
with each breath drawn
at the mercy of the current

beside those awe-­inspiring falls
camera in hand
capturing images
of the towering, deafening roar

hiking in the gorge
below those mighty falls
recording water so blue
pounding, rushing past,
until, at last,
flowing into the lake,
past it’s glass-­pebbled shore

a bridge of light
impressive in the night
fading, receding
in my rearview mirror
the river vivid, still,
in memory

another river crossed
highway of the heartland
massive in its breadth,
nearing a new life

on new waters
kayaking along the Big Muddy
and the murky rivers feeding it
eagles overhead
small consolation
for the blue grandeur of Niagara

My revision:

Crossing Rivers

beneath a March sky
bundled in my mother’s arms
feeling the thunder
of the mighty cataract

dawn’s light on the river’s shore
my float beside my father’s
drifts in the current, bobbing
with each nibble

sunlight diffused at depth
weightless, suspended
freedom in each breath
bubbles cradled by the current

beside those towering falls
camera in my hand
captures the light
held by the deafening roar

hikes within the gorge
below that cataract
recording water so blue
pounding, rushing
flowing to the lake,
and it’s glass-pebbled shore

a bridge of light fading
in the night as it recedes
in my rearview mirror
the river still vivid
in memory

another river crossed
highway of the heartland
massive in its breadth,
a new life approaches

a kayak floats on the Big Muddy
and the murky rivers feeding it
eagles overhead little consolation
for Niagara’s blue grandeur

This is my response to MTB, Write like a dog, edit like a cat…,
the prompt from Peter Frankis at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.
“Uncanny” is not my style, but perhaps this is more memorable.

The “bridge of light” referenced in the poem, left behind when I moved from New York
to Missouri, is the Peace Bridge, an international bridge connecting Buffalo, New York,
and Fort Erie, Ontario, the same bridge that appears at the top of my page.


Traveling – to My River

Traveling – to My River

Before moving to Missouri, I spent a lot of time on the Niagara River – diving, boating, kayaking, and just sitting on the shore – particularly along this one stretch of the river, which happens to be a good place to find driftwood. One of those, in the third photo, is going back to Missouri with me.

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

Traveling - to My River_1

The “cloud” at center horizon is the mist from Niagara Falls, nine miles distant.

Traveling - to My River_2

Traveling - to My River_3

Ken G.