Tag Archives: poems about rivers

The Rivers of Oak Creek Canyon

We took the West Fork trail

To Mayhew’s Lodge and

The Call of the Canyon.

‘There are seven more rivers to cross

Before we reach the trailhead’ said my love.

‘How do you know these things?’ I ask, impressed at his orientation.

‘I have passed this way before’ he replies.

At the third crossing I slip,

Chill ice-water drenching my shoes

When I put a foot wrong.

At the fourth I am mindful

Treading carefully to avoid the river’s wrath.

I wonder, briefly, at the women

Who crossed this way before.

The Pioneers, and wives of the famous

Who played here in its 1930s heyday.

How do I measure up to them?

And to the recently-departed girls,

The ones who didn’t make the grade.

When he asks ‘Shall we cross one more river?

Shall we go another mile?

Or have you had enough?’

How do I know if I’ve passed the test?

Either of my endurance or appreciation

Of this day’s passing beauty?

It is cooler by the river banks,

Where water meets the air.

Red rocks rising, Sedona’s gift.

Bugger the Vortex – this is the magic, right here.

Twisted oaks and hundred-year apple trees,

A legacy from the days of the lodge,

When movie stars, presidents and dream-makers

Played in the Canyon.

Walt, Jimmy, Hoover and the girls.

Have I crossed enough rivers? Or did I fall short?

Another pebble tossed in the stream

A stepping-stone for

The next girl on the trail.

The river says ‘Be calm. The time will come.

You have not yet learned my geography,

To negotiate your way through the Canyon

Like a new Pioneer.’

Heroine of Dunkirk

You may recall

When the old century was young

And life was filled with simple joys,

Small children waving from the marshes

As I paddled the careless holiday crowds

To Margate, Chatham and Strood


Streamers hanging gaily from my masthead

White water churning at my bow

The old King, standing, proudly watching,

Acknowledged the river’s sovereignty

And named me Medway Queen.


I carried those marsh babies when bombs fell,

Far from home to Anglian fens

Holding them safe in uncertain times

I calmed their fears

Lullabying their sleep

With heartbeat’s steady thrum.


Then seven thousand souls I saved

Plucked from the roiling waters of Dunkirk

Rescued from confusion and the chaos

Of a nightmare world

And brought them safely home.

Of all those little ships that made

That perilous journey back and forth

I earned the right to call myself

The Heroine of Dunkirk


And as this century grows old

When waves run high or you are far from home

I’ll keep you safe with lullabies and love

And hold you till the nightmares are all gone.


I will be your Medway Queen

Your sunny day, your safe return,

Your constant friend, and till time’s end

Your Heroine of Dunkirk.