First Psalm of the Mad Kayaker

Though I walk all day on asphalt, Concrete, and milled hardwood, My feet abide and long for flow. Though the streets span rivers On bridges, I stop at the crossings And look downstream with longing. Though electric companies Build dams and choke the narrows With utilities, I dream them free. Though the valley has deep shadow Where the river takes a hard bend, I fear no evil there. I dwell in the...

The Mad Kayaker Dreams of Water Falls

In the mad kayaker’s dream he stands high above The world’s last wild river and the mist Climbs like steam from a kettle out of the gorge. In the plunge pool below are other kayakers, And he knows one is him, already somehow At the bottom of the world’s final waterfall. Somehow the vast watershed of his dream Is home to magic, and the conjured hopes of place. He knows if he...

The Mad Kayaker Surveys His Gear

He descends to the basement and flips On the bare bulb at the foot of the steps And enters the kingdom of floating. The cinderblock walls and the raftered ceiling Are a testament to his worship of things That keep him safe in falling water- Four kayaks stacked like missiles In a wooden rack, a red tandem canoe Suspended from above, helmets Like severed heads on corner posts, Lifejackets hung to...

The Mad Kayaker Hears the River Flood

His boat sits dusty beneath the house but the mad kayaker wakes to hear knocking like a sailboat against the racks. The water has risen overnight and taken the backyard, the oak trees, the gravel he carefully spread for walks to the river. There is nothing he knows to do but paddle, so he crawls into the boat’s narrow cockpit, snaps on the skirt, and floats into the monster flood. He...

The Mad Kayaker Teaches his Wife to Roll

She hangs upside down in the current And the mad kayaker waits for her head To pop up. He’s taught her how to place Her paddle, snap her hips, and appear Like Houdini from the flowing world Once more into air. All he sees now is the plastic bottom Of the boat. What’s she doing down there Among the trout and boulders? In the pool she had it down-and the boat Twirled like a top. Now he...

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