There is dignity, even in hauling coal,
when masts stand tall with sails unfurled
as they hold the wind as their own.

But treacherous waters care not
for dignity when the wind howls
and waves rise to meet a bowsprit.
You drew the short straw in that lottery,
your life cut short after eighteen years,
your graceful lines no match
for the rocky shore that met them.

Within the shallows of that narrow bay
where you’ve lain for a century,
you know no wind, yet you have
a view of the sky that holds it,
so blue during days of calm, or darkened
gray when those winds swirl. The water
around you, cool in any season,
steals from you that rippled view
in winter, yet offers a cool blue light,
nearly electric, filtered through its icy ceiling.

And though we may walk above you
in your winter obscurity, we can still imagine
you as we might on ice-free days,
when, though your masts are gone,
you are still known as Sweepstakes, your lines
still graceful before the winds you held so dear.

This poem is my response to Misky’s Twiglet #259: cool blue.

I started scuba diving in 1981, and during the 1980s I made several trips to Tobermory, Ontario, and the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Twenty-two shipwrecks (and likely more) can be found in this underwater preserve where scattered islands create a hazardous passage into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The two-masted schooner Sweepstakes, built in 1867, struck Cove Island in 1885 and was towed to Big Tub Harbor at Tobermory, where it sank in twenty feet of water. The shallow dive was always enjoyable, and I even made a trip to Canada to dive on it as a part of my Ice Diving certification.

Image source: screenshot from YouTube (Sweepstakes in the winter) ~~ click for larger view
Map source: Wikimedia Commons

Beyond His Depth ~ haibun

Beyond His Depth

Steve showed up at the dive shop in Saint Ignace early in the morning, looking for a chance to board a dive charter to one of the wrecks in the Straits of Mackinac, so they rented all of the necessary gear to him and sent him to the dock with the boat captain. When the captain asked if he could join our charter, my friends and I decided we could make it work. He had been a diver in the Navy, so he was no novice. So he said. He would buddy with one two-man dive team for the deep wreck, then join the other dive team for the shallower wrecks we would see after lunch. At least he was certified for deep diving, or the shop would never have rented the gear to him. How bad could it be?

Our first dive was to the Cedarville, a 588 foot wreck lying at 106 feet, upside-down at a 45 degree angle with the rail of the ship 25 feet from the bottom. When our new partner had trouble descending, I waited at the rail while my buddy, Pete, kicked toward the cabin just below us. It was clear that Steve was having trouble breathing when he finally joined me. I checked his tank gauge to find that he was nearly out of air. I wrapped his arm around the rail and kicked off to get Pete. Steve was having even more trouble breathing when we returned, and his eyes were large with fear. 80 feet deep, and he was out of air.

I shared my octopus (spare) regulator with Steve, and we made a slow ascent to our first decompression stop. The remaining air in his tank had expanded enough that it registered on his gauge, so he dropped my regulator, took his own into his mouth, and shot to the surface. We surfaced ten minutes later. Fortunately, Steve did not suffer from an embolism, a high risk occurrence in rapid ascents.

The second dive of the day occurred without incident, but after the dive we learned that it had been several years since Steve’s last dive. As for the first dive, the whole reason for our 10-hour trip, Pete and I chalked it up to experience.

out of cold water
warm sunlight before next dive
gulls circle the boat

This haibun is my response to Haibun Monday 10-25-21: Fear, the prompt
from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. I’ve also written about this incident here.

Image source: Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve

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.

Momentary Silence

Momentary Silence

Ears equalize on descent as the passing shoreline
recedes and the brightness of day succumbs
to filtered light, eyes adjusting to another world.
Breath calm and regulated, focus turns
to the passing terrain. Mindful of hazards,
eyes scan the river bottom for items of significance
only to the diver, any thought of value long lost
to those who lost them. In a silence broken
only by that rhythmic breathing, thoughts rise
from their compartments. The day’s events,
concerns, are processed, consideration given
to matters whose weight seems less, floating
away within the surrounding peacefulness.
As the constraints of time are felt, the world
above calls. Rising to the light of day, willing
to face its demands, that silence is left behind,
the moment of solitary existence now past.

While scuba diving during the 1980s and 1990s, more than a hundred
of my dives were done while drifting with the current in the Niagara River.
(With the arrival of zebra mussels in the 1990s, visibility was 20 – 40 feet.)

This is my response to Poetics – Solitude, from Björn at dVerse Poets Pub.

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.

3 – 23 – featured haiku writer

My poem was featured at Pure Haiku, where Freya’s current theme is OCEAN.


diver’s slow descent
deep within a well of blue
subaquatic dream
© Ken Gierke / rivrvlogr 2018

Here is the final haiku from our featured haiku writer, Ken Gierke. Photography has always been a favorite pastime, so taking photos often is as important to him as the sights he sees, but those sights aren’t limited to Nature. He finds himself seeking angles and lines, and, as you might expect, some of the most intriguing lines can be found in architecture, but they also can be seen in groups of objects – and that includes people. Check out Ken’s other creative work at Rivrvlogr

As we started the week with a relaxing haiku, so we end the week with a dreamy sea haiku; the image of the “well of blue” stuck with me for days after first reading this haiku.
This haiku is part of my OCEAN series.

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All That Remains of a Former Passion

All That Remains of a Former Passion

The coast of Bonaire like a desert,
as we pull three scuba tanks
from the trunk of a VW Thing,
three friends with an appointment
with a sea turtle waiting offshore.

Under the ice at Tobermory,
rising from the deck of The Sweepstakes
to a luminescent ceiling
formed by bubbles trapped overhead.

Century-old bottles and stoneware
rescued from a river bottom
that sometimes felt like home.

Sharing my regulator with a careless diver,
out of air before reaching
the hull of The Cedarville,
eighty feet down in the Straits of Mackinac.

A three hundred pound anchor on my lawn,
a quarter-mile from its former resting place
at the bottom of the Niagara River.

Sharing this passion with my son
on his first open water dive.

Memories now,
their sum contained
in relics collecting dust
and pages seldom read.