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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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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