Winslow_Homer_-_Canoe_in_Rapids_(1897)
How to Paddle Upstream
by Ken Gierke

Consumed with your own thoughts,
always going it alone because
that’s the silence that comforts you,
there’s no easy way to get back
if you start paddling downstream.

So pull yourself along the bank.
The lee side, of course.
Why start now with the risks?
Stroke left, then right, head-on
into the current, meeting snags,
obstructions, knowing you can
always turn back to the beginning
by drifting along the easy course
you’ve followed all along.

Or face those challenges, solve
the problems you encounter.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn
something about life along the way,
learn to set your own course
once you rejoin the flow.

PAINTING: Canoe in Rapids by Winslow Homer (1897).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have an affinity to water, so it often appears in my poetry. A slight breeze will bring to mind an image of ripples on the water. A strong wind will remind me of the waves that once washed over my kayak. The glassy surface of a lake will remind me of a moment of serenity, inducing memories that can shape the words for something totally unrelated. Feeling the roar of a thundering waterfall pounding through my chest will remind me of a love I hold and shape the words to express it in a poem. It comes down to the senses and the cues they provide. My words just seem to form around them.

Gierke2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired. It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily in free verse and haiku. He has been published at Silver Birch Press, Vita Brevis, The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Eunoia Review, and his poem “Unwound”  was included in Pain & Renewal: A Poetry Anthology (Vita Brevis Press). His work can be found at rivrvlogr.wordpress.com.