Archives for posts with tag: rivers

At Middle Falls
by Tamara Madison

Icy water drops
from the rocks
in sheets

We swim like otters
in the pool the falls
have filled

How hot the sun
How sweet the water
My children near

PHOTO: Middle McCloud Falls (Siskiyou County, California). Photo by Adri.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a camping trip to the McCloud River, near Mount Shasta, California. There was a heat wave that week, and the campground had no showers. Fortunately, the cold mountain water was always available and we loved swimming laps in the pool below the falls. The photo of me and my son jumping in was taken at a different spot along the river on that same trip.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison is a native of the California desert. A retired teacher of English and French, she is a well-traveled lover of nature, dogs and water. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Chiron Review, The Writers Almanac, The Worcester Review, Pearl, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and many others. She’s the author of two chapbooks and two full-length collections of poetry, with two more in the wings. More about Tamara can be found at

Meeting by the River
by Alan Walowitz

Peekskill, New York

Perched on the always-on-edge,
I wondered, as usual, what I was doing,
and went through all the apt motions–
trimmed my nails, brushed my hair—
what little there is–
combed the lint from my beard,
so far, a normal day, despite the plan
to travel not far from here, but far
from my well-worn habits–
the local coffee dive, pounding on the keys,
stealing glances at the pretty girls
so young and out-of-reach.

I like the north well enough, the ruggedness of the terrain,
these rocks, this river, finally freezing where it’s free
from the chemicals we’ve brewed in it,
appeals to the manly in me, and self-righteous–
which I’m proud enough to own.
I’ve been this way plenty before
but why the foreignness to the feel of the so-familiar.
Here’s surely no déjà vu—
a trick of the brain, it was once explained:
the sensors, one eye, one ear, the lips
or the touch of a hand, picking up an image, a sound,
the touch, and delivering it in neuron-delay,
one a nano-second ahead of the other
and causing momentary disarray–and then
such sudden calm and amazement:
I blinked my eyes, looked again, and it was you.

Originally published in Live Encounters.

PAINTING: Hudson River by Leon Dabo (1918).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Meeting by the River” is a reminder to myself that it’s good to get out of well-worn habits, or one’s self even in—or especially in—winter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz, who lives in Great Neck, New York, is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, comes from Osedax Press.  The full-length, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, is available from Truth Serum Press. Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night, written trans-continentally with poet Betsy Mars.

dayou lu beautiful rhythm
Wash Me in Intention
by Jaya Avendel

Mosaiced at the banks with
Pink, blue, and yellow plastics
Water chokes between the drowning
Colors, cuts into the earth and
Sinks ice into skin.

Ask for paper
If the cloth on your flesh
Cannot warp into a bag.

Ask for paper
If your golden locks cannot
Braid into a basket.

Press glass to your cheek
Scatter rocks dipped in sugar syrup
For the bees; preserve in honey and wax
Dreams and moments of sweet intention.

PAINTING: Beautiful rhythm in the lotus pond by Dayou Lu (2019).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sisters visited the James River a few months ago and told me the water was thick, muddy-yellow, clogged with plastic bags and trash. Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to marine life. Plastics also impede our ability to maintain a healthy, clean water supply on earth due to short life, increased use, and poor waste disposal. It is not much but asking for paper bags at the shops and using reusable shopping bags is one of the many small things my family and I are able to do to help reduce plastic waste in the want of a cleaner future.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jaya Avendel is a micro poetess and word witch from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, passionate about life where it intersects with writing and the dreamscapes lost in between. With writing published at Green Ink Poetry, Lamplit Underground, Feral Magazine, and The Anthropocene Hymnal Anthology, she writes at and tweets as @AvendelJaya.

Mother Ganga
by Feroza Jussawalla

If only we could—
             treat you as the goddess
we say you are.

I sprinkle Ganges water on myself
to purify myself, every morning,
when I suspect an evil eye
has been cast.

I do not ask, if—
The water is pure, clean, bacteria-free.
I take the word of the seers that
Mother Ganga purifies herself

But I cannot help wonder,
as I see images of the Covid dead
floating, fully clothed, abandoned—
not even cremated.
How do we love thee,
let me count the ways,
in the number of bodies abandoned
in your bosom, to do as you may have done,
for aeons?—But at least then,
they were ashes, not clothed in plastic
body bags.

How can we save thee—Ganga, Jamuna?
Let us start: by using the ghats,
by cleaning the burning pyres
that burn the heart of Mother Earth,
but most of all, just by respecting thee,
O ancient rocks and rivers, the sacred Himalayas,
by really seeing the sacred holy ones, reincarnated,
from Kashi to Comorin, resplendent in the flowers,
our Mother, Gaia, grows out of them, and not,
the ones we cast adrift in waters turning to sludge.

Let the goddesses dwell in pristine waters
clean snow-clad mountains,
not in our castaways, offered as holy offerings.

Let us worship the goddesses
as they would want,
in their own clean abodes.

PHOTO: A new day on the River Ganga (Ganges River) by ImHR111 (2021).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla is Emerita Professor of English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally from India, she is the author and or editor, and co-editor of several scholarly works, in postcolonial literature. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).

by Margaret Coombs


The river, reflective, pushes westward.
The seams between its tessellations rise

into pointed ridges. Wind roughens
dark, transparent water. I don’t know

what might become of you, River,
when the catastrophe hits.


The low summer sun reflects the forest
into the water. River wears a bright green ribbon.


Does River see the softness
in the shrubbery? Do leaves
know the river is there?
Do they live independent lives
as colleagues? They may be
a married pair, constantly aware
of each other, caressing one another
hello with a splash, a slosh, a dropped leaf

of a different color, fading out of green.
Green, says River.

Tonight I reflect you. Tomorrow
I’ll be filled with mud.


Dear Earth, I heard your murmurs again tonight.
You send messages meant for other species
to help them survive. Scientists measure
what you say and call it evidence, which remains
unheeded, the language they use being too complex
for many humans to comprehend. Statistical applications,
algorithms, deltas and omegas seem a secret told
to our maker. The rest of us don’t know how to listen.


A woman sitting on the river bank enjoys
the chickadees, mallards, and sandhill cranes
tonight and every summer night. Why
does she weep? It’s the sight of you, River—
the threat to your endurance. She knows
none of us will last, not even you. Thank you,
she says. Thank you, thank you.

PAINTING: Landscape Banks of the River by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1874).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I regularly visit a nearby park that gives access to the river for fishing and boating. One day I noticed that I was tearing up as I stood in front of the river. This five-part poem is my exploration of why those tears fell.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Coombs is a poet and retired librarian from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the city of her birth located on the western shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. Her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, was published in 2020 under the name Peggy Turnbull. She now uses her birth name as her pen name to honor the poet she was as a young woman. Recent poems have appeared in Bramble, Your Daily Poem, and Verse-Virtual and are forthcoming in Barstow & Grand and Soul-Lit.

  A Sestina for the Well-Being of Mother Earth
  by Jeannie E. Roberts
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PHOTO:  Rush River, a 49.8-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. Photo by Aaron Gunnar.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad played a pivotal role in my upbringing; he introduced me to the wonders and the importance of the outdoor environment. He registered our home, the land near the Rush River, called Stonehammer*, under the state’s tree conservation program. Here, we planted hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of white pine and other coniferous trees. I recall our long hikes along the river, through the meadow, forest, and woodlands removing other people’s trash; as we’d wander the land, he’d identify the various trees, plants, and wildflowers. Though the Rush River property was sold years ago (in fact, its new owner recently bulldozed both the house and the garage), I’ll remember it fondly, though sadly, too, for it was the last place I saw my dad in this corporeal life. His knowledge of botany was impressive and it stuck with me. When I identify a tree, plant, or wildflower and when I retrieve roadside refuse, I can thank my dad. My sestina honors my beloved father, Donald E. Roberts, our natural world, and the beautiful fragility of Mother Earth.

*Stonehammer refers to the name of the Rush River property with rock cliff, near the unincorporated town of Martell, in Pierce County, Wisconsin, USA.

PHOTO:  The Rush River with rock cliff (Stonehammer) by Jeannie E. Roberts.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth—Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April 2021. She’s a nature enthusiast, Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. For more, please visit: Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (

by Sarah Frances Moran

My mother and grandmother told vivid
horror stories of the Brazos River.
They were tales ripe with superstition.

One of them involved seeing the devil jump
from the bank,
into the murky water; laughing maniacally.
Just a red elbow going in as the splash went up.

I consider this river and this small central town
my home.
A transplant to a land ripe with religious innuendo.

This is the river I kayak.
The river that runs through the city where
my love is rooted.
The river that takes my breath away at sunset.

If the devil swims these waters,
he must consider me a friend.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I live in Waco, Texas. I’m a native Houstonian, but have quickly fallen in love with my surroundings here. One of my favorite parts of Waco is the Brazos River. It’s beautiful. It’s majestic and it’s slightly frightening. Kayaking the river is one of my favorite pastimes. My poem pays homage to the stories my grandmother and mother use to tell me. In fact, the first time I ever kayaked the river my mother was horrified and worried. Superstition is a powerful thing.

PHOTO: “Brazos River” (Waco, Texas) by Sarah Frances Moran (taken from her kayak).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Frances Moran began writing in the ninth grade out of a desire to help others, and her writing has evolved into full-blown insistence on changing the world. Her aim is to poetically fight for love and harness the type of tender violence needed to push love forward. She strongly believes that words have immeasurable power. Originally from Houston, Texas, she moved to Waco pursuing love. She was recently chosen as the featured poet for the Waco Poet’s Society and The Word Gallery.  Her work has appeared in Catching Calliope, The Bitchin Kitsch, Harbinger Asylum, Digital Papercut, eFiction India, The Boston Poetry Magazine’s online zine and will also be featured in their Spring 2015 issue. Her work is equal parts frustration, hope, anger, advocacy, and love. At the heart of it, she’s a stick-a-love-poem-in-your-back-pocket kind of poet. She’s a huge advocate for animal welfare and works daily to combat pet overpopulation. She resides in Waco, Texas, with her partner and their menagerie of four-legged critters. You can reach Sarah on her website or on Facebook.


by Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. (Read more at

PHOTO: Langston Hughes by Gordon Parks, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Wang Wei (Translated by Henry Hughes and Jin Lei)

To find the Yellow Flower River
One follows the waters of Green Creek
Through the mountains in ten-thousand turns.
But only a few miles, at most.
Sounds drown among the wild rocks,
And colors quiet within deep pines.
Water chestnuts bob lightly.
And reeds and rushes shine
In the clear, stilling waters.
My heart and the river are equally at peace.
Let me sit upon a large, flat rock
And drop my line and hook forever.

Photo: “Green Water Reflection, Blackstone River, Lincoln, Rhode Island” by Sheba53, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

 NORMAN MACLEAN, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

PHOTO: “The Tetons and the Snake River” (1942), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, by Ansel Adams. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1)