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Joanne Monte


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River


The river below us:
nitrogen, phosphorous, petrochemicals,
dioxin from the paper mills,
a rich buffet of metals digested
from the mines, and still we remain
oblivious to its symptoms

until a skull-and-crossbones sign warns
of the poisons that run the course
of its slim body, writhing like a patient
on a gurney, admitted for treatment;

warns too, of its offspring
in the waiting room: soft-shell crabs, oysters,
the striped bass, the silk fillet,
and the trout we want to bring home
to the sizzle of butter and garlic
and the fresh herbs in the kitchen.

And suddenly we are left alone
to recover mere memory: the river
we had swung across on ropes

in the dungarees of childhood,
splashing in its shallow gut; the river
over which we fought and killed—
and for which we even died—
the river we damned.

Submitted: Monday, May 31, 2004
Edited: Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Read poems about / on: river, childhood, memory, home, alone, warning, running

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  • Freshman - 1,549 Points Hans Vr (10/31/2014 8:40:00 PM)

    Very good poem. Nature, our beloved mother, what did we do to her? (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 3,676 Points Susan Williams (10/4/2014 5:28:00 PM)

    This poet belongs in the company of giants like Angelou, Dickinson, Frost and others in the top 500. She earned every word of Frank Avon's well-thought out comment and the enthusiastic comments of Pulingat and Dillon and Hall. Frankly, I have seen other people's poems being placed in the top 500 that did not deserve that honor at all. This one deserves its placement- it is top flight writing. Bravo indeed! (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,008 Points Frank Avon (10/4/2014 3:15:00 PM)

    This, in my opinion, is exactly what 21st century poetry should be like: its sounds, its cadence, its powerful imagery, its accessibility yet subtlety, and above all its message. You are to be congratulated - and I trust you are being publsihed elsewhere than on PH pages. IMO, the line endings are just right - the enjambments read smoothly and contribute to the steady rhythms. But, I guess what amazes me most is the way your words always suggests rhymes without ever actually rhyming. I wish I could learn to do that. It's a masterful skills. Not to mention the horrific, damning pun with which the poems slaps you at the end. Bravo! (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,353 Points Kay Staley (10/4/2014 1:28:00 PM)

    First paragraph and last line are delightful. I dont like the way the lines are broken up though. The way it flows is nasty and seems to characterize the way the river is being described. I like the idea though and it is nice to find someone that is writing about important things. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,023 Points Bernard Snyder (10/4/2014 11:52:00 AM)

    Congrats' on being voted 'poem of the day'. How well you expressed the dangers in the meals we so love. Thanks for sharing. Great expression! (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 3,470 Points Savita Tyagi (10/4/2014 9:28:00 AM)

    Rivers of our child where we splashed and giggled are no more found. All we see is damned rivers black and grey slithering like wounded snake. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,977 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (10/4/2014 4:35:00 AM)

    A remarkable poem of importance which deals with the sad plight and condition of the river once flowed in such clear waters. But unfortunately it is deadly now owing to the contamination of chemicals a curse of the present period. it is fantastically told by the poet in few lines of poem and made it a success in all respect and therefore I liked it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 460 Points V P Mahur (3/29/2014 9:57:00 AM)

    Dear Joanne,
    Absolutely true that we are being senseless towards the unique gifts of nature in our lust of prosperity.
    Lovely and nice poem
    I would be obliged to hear from you some comments on my poems
    Thanks! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 33 Points Mark Dillon (10/4/2013 5:49:00 AM)

    Very well written on a topic ever recurring.IT just keeps proving profits don't have morals. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,219 Points Ken E Hall (9/20/2013 10:55:00 PM)

    Reality born by greed flows down to the sea spelling out in the poem the river we damned..Always nice to read a poem of substance with meaning for the planet's good...regards (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,932 Points Veeraiyah Subbulakshmi (10/4/2012 11:30:00 PM)

    River is the water system that should be kept clean! When the developed nations have managed to achieve the desirable quality, the developing nations still discharge their waste into river and messing up their livelihood in many ways! a thought provoking poem though the concept is mixed up with other irrelevant information! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 182 Points Karen Sinclair (10/4/2012 7:43:00 PM)

    Fantastic! really, a write to read and reread. When will we buck our ideas up as its continually recycled through our children....the river we damned.... so true...tyvm karen (Report) Reply

Read all 19 comments »

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