What Does the
River Know

by Charlie Malone

The river knows when we got here
     and it knows who was here first.
The river knows about the old Signal Tree
     pointing to warm homes, to summer.
The river knows how blood moves in our hearts,
     it knows where tears come from.
The river doesn’t know it is two parts hydrogen;
     it is three parts time and one part dream.
The river knows if a duck’s quack echoes.
The river knows the smell of iris blossoms,
     and the lick of cold silt. 
I think the river knows where we are going,
     and I don’t mean North and South. 
The river knows how to reveal and how to frolic
     these are lessons for a poet. 


Where Would I Be
Without the River?

by Carrie George

Where would I be without the river?
Dry in the mouth and feet, thirsty
for a waterfall down my throat.

I would dream of fish kisses:
their blubbering lips brushing
against the skinned knees of my youth.

I would wish for music:
the slow tambourine whisper
of the foaming Cuyahoga current.

I would cry for the Susquehanna
in June, when my father and I would cast
out lines, hunting for bluegill and carp.

Where would I be without the river?
Would I wade through empty soup cans
and maggots to collect smooth rocks?

Would my father and I leave the house
in June, hunting for small puddles
to reel in a meal of leftover bones and skin?

Would I wake up to morning smoke
instead of fog? The smell of burning rubber
instead of crisp autumn water?

I would run sand through the faucet.
I would shower in gray dust.
I would open my mouth during rainstorms.

I would watch drops fill the empty
canals of my palms and flow
into the dried up ocean at my feet.


Tonight, I Mirror The River

by Mariah Hicks

Tonight I am the river
soft and sanctified
like the Sabbath
oh holiest of days.

Tonight I am the river
a graveyard for stones
and a womb for waning wishes
of love.

Tonight I am the river
a bed for the moon’s reflection
like a prayer that fades into the
ears of God.

Tonight I am the river
where trees bend in harmony
and the owls hum
a brief selection.

Tonight I am the river
flowing through Mother Nature’s arms
and laying my head to rest
on her bosom.

Tonight I am the river
carrying this current
into the rising sun.



A Group Poem by the Wick Juniors Summer Writing Camp
After Gary Snyder’s “For All”

I pledge allegiance to the jawbone river,
to its curves and eddies
to the little fish inside
and the killdeer on the banks.

I pledge allegiance to the u-shaped river,
cloudy but clear in its intentions.

I pledge allegiance to the old canal
filled with moss and leaves
once an artery to a young nation
keeping it alive and well.

I pledge allegiance to the glaciers that
formed the trenches that water filled.

I pledge allegiance to the never-ending
hum of insects, to the dragonflies hidden within
the grass, only the distinguished blue
at the tip of their twig bodies showing.

Turquoise-like dragonflies with stained-glass
wings, tree bark engraved with
lines cut in deep like scars that are
tributes to their souls.

I pledge to the unspoken unity and
safety of our wildlife, to the birds,
the fish, to all who inhabited this land.

I pledge allegiance to the train of
thought that blows its horn every night.

I pledge allegiance to the way that
pen touches paper. It creates something
beautiful or terrible.

I pledge to love myself,
pain, scars, and all.


The Language of Rivers

by Callan Latham, 12th Grade
Wick Juniors Summer Writing Camp

We learn to speak in the
Bubbling cascade. Our voices
Become clear, our lungs filled
With sediment the settles
Out the bottom.
We learn to let our bodies swim.
They move upstream, collecting shiny
Little rocks that flash like moonlight
Against our skin.
It was the glaciers who taught
Us how to speak. Our minds
Cleave through stone and fall
Under covered bridges.
We learn to love the land.
It stays at our sides.


The River

A Group Poem from Kent Parks
& Recreation Summer Camp

When the river is loud
it is like the river controls me.
My heart beats like the waves flow.
The river rushes through the fish
and turns different colors.
You help me change,
I like that you change the world
I see mosquitoes by the river.
A river can be anything,
it can be death and life.
It dives so deep into my heart.
We should not pollute it.

When the river is calm
it makes me calm.
The river is like an oboe
making peaceful music
it is sweet like candy.
Rivers sing to our ears,
every time I stop, I hear the birds chirp
and the trees brush together
Wisshhh Shhhh.
A river is a man trying to find
the meaning of life.


Cuyahoga River Chant

by Kieran Syed, 5th grade
Wick Juniors Summer Writing Camp

Big river, small river
Wide river, narrow river
This river is a cool river

Going on my way river
We’re almost there river
Like a waterslide river
Splish-splash river
Huge “CRASH!” river

Love river
Hate river
Kind river
Mean river
I like rivers

Rocky river
Sad river
Happy, soothing touch river

Calm river
Rough river
Having fun with my friends


What Does The River Know?

A Group Poem from Walls Elementary
4th Grade Students

What does the river know?
The river knows all the leaves that go down its cold water.
It knows when the trees need water to live
and it knows when animals are near.
The river knows the sounds of skipping stones.
It knows all the fish in the water; it knows what they say to each other.
The river knows when it gets disturbed.

What does the river know?
The river knows how we feel inside.
It feels of our hearts because it has been here for years and it’s old.
The river is the softest blanket that you can find.
The river knows how to take you to a beautiful place.
And, the river knows when we touch the water.

What does the river know?
The river knows why the birds chirp and fly around Standing Rock.
It knows why the waves crash against the sand while kids run around.
The river knows why turtles go into their shells.
The river smiles when people come.
The river knows everything!


Think Like a Tree

by Karen I. Shragg

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.


Where Water Comes Together With Other Water

by Raymond Carver

I love creeks and the music they make.
And rills, in glades and meadows, before
they have a chance to become creeks.
I may even love them best of all
for their secrecy. I almost forgot
to say something about the source!
Can anything be more wonderful than a spring?
But the big streams have my heart too.
And the places the streams flow into rivers.
The open mouths of rivers where they join the sea.
The places where comes together
with other water. Those places stand out
in my mind like holy places.
But these coastal rivers!
I love them the way some men lover horses
or glamorous women. I have a thing
for this cold swift water.
Just looking at it makes my blood run
and my skin tingle. I could sit
and watch these rivers for hours.
Not one of them like any other.
I’m 45 years old today.
Would anyone believe it if I said
I was once 35?
My heart empty and sere at 35!
Five more years had to pass
before it began to flow again.
I’ll take all the time I please this afternoon
before leaving my place alongside the river.
It places me, loving river.
Loving them all the way back
to their source.
Loving everything that increases me.


For All

by Gary Snyder

Ah to be alive
          on a mid-September morn
          fording a stream
          barefoot, pants rolled up,
          holding boots, pack on,
          sunshine, ice in the shallows,
          northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
          cold nose dripping
          singing inside
          creek music, heart music,
          smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
          of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
          one ecosystem
          in diversity
          under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.


River on Fire

by Dave Lucas, Ohio Poet Laureate

Stranger, the way of the world is crooked,
and anything can burn. Nothing impossible.
Who comes to send fire upon the earth may find
as much already kindled, may find his city
bistre and sulfurous. Pitched and grimed.
On those suffered banks we sat down and wept.
There the prophets, if there had been prophets,
would have baptized us in fire. Who says impossible
they fill his mouth with ash, they quench him
as if a man could be made steel. A crooked way
the world wends, and the rivers, and the prophets.
Go down and tell them what you have seen:
that the river burned and was not consumed.