Fair Niagara (revised) ~ verse epistle

Fair Niagara

Think not that I have forsaken you, Niagara.
These thousand miles that separate us
cannot deny that you still flow
through my veins like a lifeblood.

There can be no denying our intimacy,
one that reaches back to childhood. Mine,
bundled in my parents’ arms when I first met you
at the edge of your mighty falls.

Your childhood, Niagara, lies hidden somewhere
in the mists of time. Onguiaahra, your first people
named you. As a passage between two great bodies of water,
they respected your nature, both simple and profound.

The sight of salmon jumping in your lower reaches
or the light returned by a school of shiners in your clear water
take my breath away, yet it returns easily when your warm water
meets the cool air of an early autumn morning.

You cradled me as I swam in your depths
beside muskellunge and sturgeon,
held me afloat as I paddled your waters
in the company of herons and eagles.

Niagara, you have been my quiet companion,
the many hours I sat by your shore
marveling at your wonder and beauty,
contemplating life and the nearness of you.

I have heard the majesty of your cataracts, you with a rainbow
as a crown while singing of the splendors of nature.
I have seen your power and fury on display below those falls,
rushing through a canyon that would contain you,

till you broke free to flow calmly, steadily,
to complete your course, connecting one inland sea
with another. I have watched the sun set over you,
enhancing your beauty and glory.

Yet while my heart still beats for you, it has answered
the call of one most dear who now shares my heart
with you. I seek what comfort I can from the rivers
and streams of my new home, but they do not run as clear.

They do not provide the solace I find in your blue waters,
nor do they lessen this great distance between us.
Before my time has run its course,
I shall return to yours, my fair Niagara.

This is a revision of Fair Niagara, a verse epistle written for Exploring the poetic genre: Verse Epistle, a March 2021 prompt at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, and is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: SAY THE NAMES, a prompt hosted by Sherry Marr at earthweal, where she says, “Tell us about the places you hold most dear in the corner of the planet where you live.”

I’m also sharing this at dVerse – Open Link Night 293 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Read about the source of the word “Niagara” here.

Images
~ The Niagara River, with the skyline of the city of Niagara Falls on the horizon
~ At Niagara Falls in 1953
~ Emerald Shiners (minnows) in the Niagara River
(click images for larger view in new tab
)

The Water Meets My Needs ~ mirrored refrain

The Water Meets My Needs

A leaf drifts slowly past me,
going where the current leads.
As my paddle meets the water,
the water meets my needs.

Each time, there’s something new
to experience, discover.
The water meets my needs
as my paddle meets the water.

From heron standing on the shore
to ducks concealed in bankside reeds.
As my paddle meets the water,
the water meets my needs.

Many rewards can be found
in each scene I encounter.
The water meets my needs
as my paddle meets the water.

 

This poem is my response to Poetry Form: Mirrored Refrain, the prompt from Grace at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. A mirrored refrain is formed by three or more quatrains where two lines within the quatrain are the “mirrored refrain” or alternating refrain.

 The rhyme scheme is as follows: xaBA, xbAB, xaBA, xbAB, etc.. (x represents the only lines that do not rhyme within the poem. A and B represent the refrain.)

Empty Echoes ~ with audio

 

Empty Echoes

In the winter wind, a massive pine
brushes the clapboard of this house
that has not seen paint in fifty years.
Weathered and fading to gray,
it is neglected and long past
any rustic charm. Snow is cupped
in the upturned edges of the siding.
Shutters hang at an angle beside
windows that once glowed
with warmth, but now stand dull
and lifeless. There is no bustle,
no activity, just banging shutters.

You say you hear laughter
from this house? That’s nothing
more than echoes from the past.
Perhaps you also smell roast turkey
and spiced apple, or hear dishes
clattering. Broken pieces on the floor
are all that remain of those. This home
has not seen a festive dinner in years.
And that’s no wisp of smoke
from the chimney, just snow blowing
from the roof of an empty house.
But you knew that when you saw
those lifeless windows.

This poem is my response to Poetics: Outside Looking In, the prompt from Laura at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which asks us to imagine a house with no family connections, no memories of our own to call upon.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Stream of Consciousness ~ quadrille

Stream of Consciousness

Thoughts pass
one to another,
flowing in a manner
that brings to mind
a vision of a stream,
its clarity a marvel
unsurpassed,
its course unquestioned,
revealed in the direction
a mind will take it,
a mind perceives it.

Thus is an idea born.

This poem is my response to Quadrille #132 Your Poem Theme: Stream, the prompt from De Jackson at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use a form of the word stream in a 44-word poem, with no required meter or rhyme.

ER@1AM

 

ER@1AM

ER@3AMHeadlights, blinding at eye level
on an ambulance discharging
it’s charge in the ER drop-off,
greet us as we arrive, midnight
an hour behind us in the night.

My own charge is discharged,
and I park fifty feet away before
walking inside. One visitor allowed,
but exceptions exist, and I am one.
This late, no one seems to mind.

Waiting room to myself, except for
Marv Albert calling a replay of
a playoff game, 76ers making moves
no one in ER can expect to make
any time soon, as I wait patiently.

Patients trickle in, and I try to ignore
a game that’s already been won
as the Wizards take the lead.
The trick here is to tune out
the game and others now waiting.

My charge is discharged @ 3AM,
with no basketball in the future,
as the Sixers win a game they won
hours ago. We head out into the night,
with no wish for a replay of the night.

 

Restored

Restored

Restored

I walk trails, lands once
deforested, now green, thankful
my health is restored, that I can look
between the trees to see a buck
spying me between the trees on a swath
that once was a road cutting across hills
once clear-cut, now restored
and as beautiful as the view from a bluff
that looks back upon them. Looking back
seventy years, who thought farmland,
once depleted, could be so full of life?
Looking ahead seventy years, will this be
no more than a pocket of lost hope
in the wider expanse of some other world?

This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: VOYAGE TO THE OTHERWORLD, where Brendan says, “As with myth and dream, modernity has almost lost its Otherworld. The language of wonder and flight is paltry and dry. As the Earth becomes haunted of vanishing life, so the everteeming Ocean is a faded, seldom and flickering place. Change is inexorable; ghosts and monsters abound. But all is not done … Getting to the Otherworld is a voyage of equal parts doubt and faith.” He asks, “What help is there, in these immodest, shrinking and fuming times? Can we still hear the call, can Otherworld sails still trim, do islands still wait for us above the waterline across the main? And what does the Otherworld dream of a world such as we wander today?”

Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated the area that is now the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It has been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The photo above is from my November hike on the Cedar Creek Trail. This section of the trail was once a country road that passed through farmland.

True Love

True Love

True LoveTwo left feet that can’t dance
know their task is at hand.
You take mine as the band
plays our song. All is grand.

Little girl now all grown,
there’s a truth that’s well known.
I would dance all the night
just to be in your light.

But this dance that we share
on this night leads to where
your full heart must now go,
to the heart of your beau.

Look now deep in my eyes
and I know you’ll surmise
that this old father’s love
welcomes your own truelove.

Meter is not my forte, as I feel I tend to force it, but this is my response (anapestic tetrameter?) to Meet the bar waltzing from Björn at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. We’re asked to “let the dance be your poem.”

Yes, I have two left feet. Two months before my daughter’s wedding, I spent a week in Buffalo so we could take a couple of dance classes together. I then drove back home and practiced the waltz every night with my wife so I could give my daughter her father-daughter dance. It went off without a hitch. (Except, of course, for the ceremony earlier in the day!) The picture above is from that moment.

One Tangled Mess ~ narrative poem ~ with audio

Momentary Silence

Pete is not the diver in question

 


One Tangled Mess

He was a cop, which, by itself, shouldn’t mean anything,
but he was also a perfectionist. Everything by the book,
which was a good thing when scuba diving. Fewer chances
for mishaps and mistakes meant a more enjoyable dive.

A group of friends would do river drifts in the Niagara River,
with buddy teams of two. A pickup vehicle was left
at the exit point, then we’d drive upriver to the entry point
with our gear, drift along the bottom with a float, and surface.

Keeping track of bottom time was essential. Surfacing too late
meant a hard kick in if the current had pushed us from shore.
Embarrassing as it was, there were times when a buddy team
had to call for a ride after surfacing too far downriver.

When possible, divers tended to use the same partner. Knowing
their skill level and tendencies meant being able to anticipate
their reactions above and below the water. It made it easier
to avoid underwater obstacles or tangles with the buddy line.

I had been on several dives with him. He was a good friend
and an excellent diver who was training to be an instructor.
Dives with him always went smoothly, but I wondered
about his patience. As a group, he buddied with his wife.

That’s not always a good thing, when someone insists
that everything be by the book. It comes down to knowing
your partner’s abilities. Compensating for shortcomings
should come naturally to an instructor, more so for a couple.

At the end of one dive, my buddy and I were checking out
a boat anchor I’d found when we saw their dive flag go by.
Late exit. Drifting next to the float, he was berating her
as he untangled the float line that was wrapped around her.

Things were pretty uncomfortable as we sat on the shore
afterward, having a snack and something to drink. Talk
centered around the finds we had brought to the surface.
I pictured him on the bottom, the anchor tied to his fins.

One Tangled Mess

Narrative poetry is not really my cup of tea, but I thought I’d give this a try.

Shared with Open Link Night LIVE #292 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Rustle in the Breeze ~ haibun

Rustle in the Breeze

Rustle in the Breeze

A strong breeze brings to my ears the sound of a lawnmower two blocks away. Its dull drone is punctuated by the “Thud, Thud” of a sledgehammer slamming into my neighbor’s driveway retaining wall as a stone mason removes the last obstacle before him. Bags of cement sit beside a pallet of stone blocks waiting to take their place as a replacement for the long crumbling wall. A coworker starts the mixer to prepare the mortar, its low hum one more sound in a mechanical chorus. Water hisses as he sprays the inside of the hot metal drum. Sounds of nature are still evident to those who listen closely.

backlit green oak leaves
crowded with drying catkins
rustle in the breeze

This haibun is my response to Haibun Monday 4-26-21: The Present Moment,
the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, with the challenge
to write a haibun about the moment we are currently experiencing.

~ Day 26 ~