A Reading for Vince

Alright, sir, for you, I am breaking my rule of not posting my poems online. Well, ok, it’s also fun to get some feedback, so I hope you enjoy this. The poem is printed just below the video.

A Response to Billy Collins

Kayaking on the Susquehanna,
now that’s something I’m quite likely to do,
in July or any month, as long as there’s no ice.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a painting
of someone kayaking on the Susquehanna,
or any other stream or river in Pennsylvania.

My own body feels it now, the ache, the pull
of muscles as I row this pushing, pumping
rhythm, the meter of my stroke a little off–

two beats to port for each one
at starboard. This little sit-on-top is made
for ocean waves, not upstream track.

But it’s all the kayak I have, so I row
on the Susquehanna, my backyard fountain.
This far north of Harrisburg where west

meets main, the water’s deep, at least
when the dam is up. It’s inflatable, you know,
like the ego of poets who don’t know

of boats and bats swooping past,
fishing poles, and calloused hands,
curved paddles that dip and scoop

and drip the Susquehanna into your lap.
It’s dusk; two ducks, then a loon flap past,
wings nearly tip the waves. I tire and drift

the way we poets do when we’ve pushed
the pen too hard, and need to let the stream
find us again, take us where it will.

The slow current spins me facing downstream
toward a low waxing moon, and even the rise
of countless mayflies doesn’t hide the glow

of pink sky above a jumbled bank of trees.
I imagine, as I glide toward docking,
a man in a museum, mind adrift,

gazing at a picture of a stranger
kayaking on the Susquehanna.
Somehow he senses something missed,

and he thinks to write of his regret,
fleeting as a Pennsylvania rabbit,
remorse for a euphoria he’ll never know–

shoulders sore, a setting sun,
the moon and first few stars over slow
roving water. Up ahead a bass jumps

for the day’s last mayfly. From far away
I feel his gaze, rub my neck as I clamber
onto the dock, and sigh a little for his loss.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Vincent says:

    I would say 4 mins and 17 seconds well spent….; firstly it is great to see you…and the room is looking wonderful…and you are looking pretty fit so I am guessing the working out, working and studentship are keeping you fit! 😉

    Secondly….I should read Billy Collins, but I need to finish some of Dlugos and Trinidad first.

    Thirdly….I love it. I love it that you are evidently enjoying your poetry, I love it that you have made this move to share by reading it….and I Love it. You are so clever and honest…mixing the real physicallity and the joy and effort of kayacking, with the sense of art and writing, with a subtle rebuke….and the life in and on that beautiful river. Sighs deeply and smiles…thankyou..xoxox


  2. sonofwalt says:

    Oh wow! You have replied already! It is after midnight your time, so I hope you sleep soon and sleep well, my brother. I am so glad you enjoyed this. I just got done recording a second one that I’ll add to the blog sometime tomorrow. It’s the newly rewritten poem one of the growing collection I call “The School Bus Poems.” You can get a preview by going to my Youtube account if you can’t wait for tomorrow. 🙂 I love you so much, and I hope to some day spend time with you over a bottle of wine or two on the magical Susquehanna.


  3. icefogger says:

    I have missed my fix of SOW poems. I see you have upgraded to digital since I last wandered over to your words. A wonderful poem that makes me want to shove off from the shore.


  4. sonofwalt says:

    Thank you! How have you been, ole’ JS mate?


  5. icefogger says:

    I’ve been doing very well, thank you. I hope all is well with you back there in civilization.


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