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.

by Joanne Monte

Comments (20)

in the dungarees of childhood, - - -one of those perfect lines we all yearn to write and will stick in our minds forever
Very good poem. Nature, our beloved mother, what did we do to her?
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!
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!
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.
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