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'The River'
March 2010

07 May 2012



Up that lazy river where the mayflies mate

I'm in a little row boat with some beer in a crate

Lazy summer holiday, fishing without a rod
If the missus saw me, she'd say "You lazy sod!"
But summer's for relaxing, slowing the pace down
We're out here in the country, not a busy town.

So from the lazy river take your daily pace

For believe me lovely people
I'm not in a human race.

Poem by Jim White, Picture by Pat Cook

Little Schuylkill
(pronounced skook-ull)

The river was little more than a stream aggrandized, rarely more than thirty feet across and seldom more than ankle or shin deep. If Washington had chosen this river to throw a silver dollar a cross he would hardly have strained himself. It did not properly become the Schuylkill until it entered Berks County.

The river flowed unambitously; lacking rapids, only marked here and there by lethargic swells that passed for white water. It turned indecisively upon itself, here and there as if indeterminate of direction or purpose. It never formed actual ox bows. That would require definite conviction. But always it flowed in the same direction; down, down, forever down.

The rocks along its banks and bottom were discolored in varying shades of rust orange as though acquiring some taint from the land itself. As though the mine shafts sunk deep within it had ruptured something vital and it had bled out over the land. Or as the though the land, as well as everything else, had passed its purpose. Was but now only the decaying wreck of what once was, with little present and no future.
The word Schuylkill is an Indian word of indeterminate origin. The few enlightened (not that many) though embittered (almost all of them) citizens of the county would tell you it meant hole; or more poetically, the place of poo.

The river flowed, skirted, along the borders of the city limits of the county seat. A city named after the man who settled there. He had won a contract when Washington was president to provide masts for the ships of the navy dismasted in a storm. He came this far from Philadelphia to find pine trees that were sixty feet or taller. There were none left down that way. He was to float the logs downstream. To look at the river now you would say 'damn, it must have been some deeper then.' Now you couldn't float down it in an inner tube without banging your butt all the way.

By all accounts John Potts was an arrogant, opinionated, verbally abusive man. By turns tyrannical and cowardly. After awhile the Indians could not take it anymore and they killed his ass. Unfortunately they killed his entire family as well. But it was perhaps by then too late the attitude had become the mainstay of the county. A good deal of the people there are as hollow and black inside as the dark, abandoned coal mines left behind. The best among them indeterminately cowed.

And through and by all this the river flowed. And the river flowed forever and ever down.

Thomas Ritchie


I remember steps
leading downwards
water lapping the sides,
holding on tightly
watching the boats
tossing, side to side.

Oars paddle the depths
murky brown
softening to mauve,
small black shapes
wildly darting into
the  silvery shadows.

Tip the pail
upside down,
watch the tiddlers
silently flap
into the depth
of nowhere.

I watch
feel myself drown,
become part
of the incoming Tide.


Streams of Living Water

The sun rises high in the sky.  Maybe hear the seagulls cry.  Rushing winds and wintry snowfalls.  Flowers blooming and bending their heads.  Rain beating down on the roofs.  Moonlit stars twinkling.  Dogs barking, frogs leaping and children dancing about.  Raindrops torrenting down.  Green grass and meadows spread.  Ducks on the pond and linnets singing.  Fruit on the trees, doves in the cotes and owls hooting.  Garrulous laughter and silence.  Candlelit table, church bells rining and large houses on the estate.  God in his heaven and prayer.  Strident walks and exercises.  Cathedrals and churches unseen, meadows and fields spread about.  Lethargic and lazy and feeling half crazy for a great swim to keep it in trim.  Great south winds blow, the sun shines brightly and streams of living water flow.

Sue Horncastle


"cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river for you"
The words from a bygone era

running through my mind
disturbing dreams of yesteryear,
yet how poignant the words.
In my mind's eye

I see the tide rise and fall,
like the baton upon a drum
steady, sometimes slow then fast.
The waves beat upon the shore,

the rhythm of the river
disturbing, and yet so tranquil.
The small boats crossed the river

when I was a child,
fishing boats and war boats.
Such memories buried and yet so real,

the river was then my shield
that kept me safe.
From the invasion of chaos
that threatened my tiny world.
Sally Flood

The River

The river winds its way. Great depth, muddy slush and swelling currents. Fishes in the deep and boats gliding along as sails pass. Leafy trees bend over the sloshing river. Rocks stick out at every crevasse.

Sue Horncastle






Robert Brandon
Grass Roots Open Writers

Flowing for All

Arising from grandiose mountains, the
Babbling brook begins its tremulous way
Cascading over smooth, rounded pebbles
Down the steep ravine in a clear ribbon
Encapsulating the picture book scene
Foraging its way, deep below ground
Gushing into the open with renewed joy
Hop, hopping over lichen covered rocks
Into a winding, widening, crystal stream
Juicily nurturing the burgeoning plants
Kicking its heels over tripping rapids
Landing safe to continue its journey
Meandering through spreading plains
No time to rest in its friend, the lake
Onward to join its lover, becoming one
Paddling feet teasing in dappled shallows
Quenching, deepening and broadening; the
River marches on, towards its ultimate goal
Swishing, swashing, lapping its guiding banks
Trout slithering from tickling, trailing fingers
Under bridges, around bends, a medley of
Vessels cut through the reflection of glass
Washing its way with true majesty; spreading
Xxx in the air as it bursts from the estuary, into
Yonder sea, brimming over with success, and
Zeal as it dances in harmony with the waves

Jan Hedger

The River

A very good agricultural movie starring Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson

The Dam bursts as torrents flow through
onlookers stare as animals flee.
Houses subside as crops glide by
perimeters down as cowboys frown
The River a defiant force of power and destruction
a life force of a community and a destroyer of business
Impoverished and poverty stricken nature wrecks a terrible revenge on a family struggling to the end
Prospect land developers seeking to gain
a new age where entrepreneurs hold the sway
the farming community defiant and strong
prices fixed produce reduced a forced retreat
in angst ridden trials

Industrial sabotage a strike breaking code
or spend the winter alone in the cold
employment confusion as hearts and minds
rebel this episode of anxiety will take it's toll
and so back home to the homely retreat
where all is not so pleasantly sweet tales of infidelity rain. While the river sweeps along and harvesting reaps a conclusion to savor until the levee breaks again.
Paul Evans
Stevenage Survivors

A River Tale

It's five in the morning.
In leggings and socks
She's down by the river
Because she's the cox.

She sits in the boat
And she shouts at the crew.
They pull on the oars
As she tells them to do.

But the weather turns nasty;
The river gets choppy.
It's wet and it's cold
And incredibly soppy.

Then she spies, by the bank,
That there's something afloat.
Her crew musn't see it;
She spurs on her boat.

She knows that another boat
Is right behind.
She'll leave the strange object
For that crew to find.

She must get back to college
To eat and to change.
No time for concern
With an object that's strange.

So the boat at the rear
Stopped to see what was there
And they found a dead body
With matted black hair.

The Police came along
And detained them for hours,
While the lucky front crew
Had there breakfast and showers!

Andrew Diamond
Newham Writers - Monday Group

The river

The river travels to the sea.
It can not flow up to the hill.
It runs downhill,
or pushes through a ravine.
How does it know,
which way to go?
Where is the sea?
And which sea
is its destiny?
It pushes its waters
through the plains.
Each drop knows
where it goes
and nothing can hold it.
It runs around obstacles,
creates islets and islands,
bends, depressions,
glens, gullies and valleys.
It eats away trees,
creates canyons
and waterfalls.
Nothing can stop it
until it becomes
a part of the sea,
or an ocean.
The waves wash the sand
at my feet.
They whisper:
we used to be Hudson river once,
and we are the ocean now.

Marie Neumann


It was the brightest day of summer I have ever seen. How many spawnings ago, I don't recall but it must be many, for I have watched her hair fade from thick golden brown to silver, to white and today it is so fine it is almost transparent.

I remember how they used to walk across the bridge, pausing to gaze into the ophidian depths. They'd stand there together, whispering.  I longed to know what they were saying - what secrets they shared.

I liked to swim beneath them, where the water is the deepest and darkest shade of green. My hair, streaming amongst the water reeds, was my only disguise. Had they not been so wrapped up in each other, they must have seen me.  But I was young and foolish then and I paid no heed to my sisters' admonitions never to meddle in mortal affairs.

Today she stands and looks straight into my eyes. I shrink back a little. She has a box with her...

He carried a box too, I remember. I discovered it when I was trying to follow him, to find out where he went. It was a small box that opened like a clam-shell. It was lined with a soft sponge-like material and nestled inside was a twisted circlet of gold with a cluster of stones that sparkled like the river in sunshine.

Although I do not feel the cold, I shiver. I know why she has come...

It was the day - the only day - he came to the bridge alone. The sun blazed, my secret, sacred ally. By contrast, I was cool and inviting. He hesitated, and I swam in colubrine circles, as I had seen the Gwragedd Annwn do.  I think he didn't mean to jump and I'm certain he didn't fall. Maybe he was just overcome by the heat - yes, I feel sure that must be it.

She opens her box. It's much bigger than his was, and the lid lifts right off in her hands...

Delighted that he was finally with me, I wrapped myself around him, held him close. He struggled briefly, then lay still in my arms. He seemed content to stay. I gurgled happily in his ear but he did not reply. I shook him gently, laughing up at him.  His lips parted - at last the whispered words I so longed to hear. But no words came forth, just a tiny stream of diminishing bubbles. Confused, I watched them, as they floated up, breaking through the water's wrinkled skin and disappearing, one by one.  Why would he not talk to me?

Disappointed, I let him go.

She tips her box and shakes it over the side of the bridge. A drift of palest pink rose petals silently flutter down and land upon the surface of the river. They spread out, turning slowly, as if they do not know which way to go...

I remember that he also spread out and turned slowly, arms open wide as if embracing this strange new world I had just given him.

The current gathers the rose petals together and gently guides them downstream.

I let them go, like memories, to be chased by our tears...

Belisama is a Celtic River Goddess of light and fire, the forge and of crafts.
Gwragedd Annwn (pronounced 'gwageth anoon') are water-spirits from Wales. These lovely creatures are known to choose mortal men as their husbands.

Ashley Jordan


I sit among the High Woods
Overlooking the River Beane
It is only a small river, meandering gently
Through the Hertfordshire countryside
Yet it has created this valley
Moulding the soft contours of chalk and clay
Spreading new earth where it overflows
Feeding the land, quenching its thirst for life
For the green willows who live so close
Some grown so large, so old they seem to spread
Both sides of the rushing water,
Bridging its banks in a loving embrace

As I walk towards the river a flock of larks rise
Their silvery, skittery, spring songs fluttering
To join the river-song.
My heart sings in harmony with the river
Easily soaring to the sky.

Lucia Birch
Stevenage Survivors

The river

It was a crisp sunday afternoon, the early days of spring. The river was glistening as the sun shone down.

As we walked closer we could smell the waft of the slightly stagnant water. Empty beer bottles thrown in were bobbing about. I gave my children some bread to feed the ducks. I hope my youngest is careful that she doesn't fall in. She gets quite excited and jumps about, so we stand slightly back.

In the centre of the river I wondered how deep it was. At the edge I could see the stones just under the murky water. As my children throw in the bread the water makes ripples, as it makes a little plop sound. As the water winds round the bend people are playing pooh-sticks over the bridge, getting excited to see who will win.

On the far bank all the reeds are growing tall, waiting for the dragonflies to come. Here come the seagulls scrounging about. Now the ducks have had all the bread they slowly swim off. Little waves spread out across the whole river, right up to the edges and out to the middle, as they follow the ducks off.

Debbie Feltz


If only I could write an ode to
Father Thames in London,
No words could compete
or capture the force
of power depicted in
Paul Evans description

   But I will try.

For I remember Father Thames

when I was just a child
the flooding of the basement
with water lashing wild,
and now my children listen
with eyes of disbelief
for tower blocks pave the way
where houses lent relief.

Along the embankment

the barrier has been built,
when the tide is riding high
it cannot burst or tilt,
Father Thames has now been tamed
and kept within its reach
the Tower hotel has risen
where once there was a beach.

My river tales are not as strong

the Capatilists have moved in,
 warehouses now are flats
 and luxury dwells within,
Charles Dickens tells it better
before my childhood days,
with spade and bucket in my hands
 a child within me plays.


Tumultuous Torrent

The river of mud slid at speed
Carving its way down the mountain side
Full of lust, of power and greed
It spewed its guts in an enveloping tide,
Of devastation; a land sucking parasite,
Crumbling bridges and uprooting trees
Blackening; smashing out the light
Natures' dark side, the only spirit it frees.

Jan Hedger

The One That Got Away

Silver fish slake downstream
River bank alive with life
Chub, Perch, Grayling, Bream
Silver fish slake downstream
The fisher wakes from his dream
Says good mornin' to the wife
Silver fish slake downstream
River bank alive with life.

Jan Hedger


(Mar 12, 10) Ashley Jordan said:
Well done Robert - you can consider me delectated!

(Mar 12, 10) Ashley Jordan said:
Excellent work Sue - it's great to see you so inspired by The River theme :-)

(Mar 12, 10) Ashley Jordan said:
Wonderful writing Sally - I'm sure a lot us can relate to 'Cry me a River' - and you have very cleverly drawn a parallel between physical and emotional boundaries. I love it :-)

(Mar 12, 10) Anya Blye said:
I think that all the work about rivers is very impressive and of a very high standard.

(Mar 14, 10) Jan Hedger said:
A weekend away and return to marvellous River pieces of work!
Beautiful Sue! Well done!
Robert, fun and very you!
Sally, when one reads your poem, a second and third time one realises how clever it is - a touch of Steinbeck in it for me - super! Good to see it on FLOW as well!

(Mar 16, 10) Robert Brandon said:
Thank you all for your positive feedback. I love reading all the great work - including mine!! Love to you all, Robert

(Mar 22, 10) Jan Hedger said:
Love your poem Sally - have my own childhood memories of catching tiddlers! I usually 'slipped' and got wet feet - I was always in trouble - so thanks for this one!

(Mar 24, 10) Ashley Jordan said:
Well done Thomas - I particularly like your description in the 2nd paragraph - it really sets the pace for the rest of the piece :-)

(Mar 30, 10) Ashley Jordan said:
Jim & Pat - A lovely collaboration between a talented artist and a talented poet. Inspiring :-)

(Mar 31, 10) janhedger said:
Art and poetry - a marriage made in heaven beautiful work both!
Any more pictures out there?


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