River Poems

The Chemung River - Dominick Mallacoccio, 11, Elmira

The Chemung is clean
Our river filled with water
Canoe, kayak, fish
Peaceful, still, calm, undisturbed
Inviting, welcoming you

Dreams of Peace on the Gentle Chemung - Robert Oden

Once again, we push our canoe from the shady shore
of the green Chemung and feel the heart lighten
at the delicate bounce of buoyancy,
the first dip of the paddle, the magical glide out
to the deep middle current, the sweet lap and whisper of water
along the shell of our slender hull, the beginning of our gentle river float....
This first soft movement upon the stream seems always new,
no matter how often we go, and so does every eddy,
every shoal and bend, each sparkling riffle of dancing waves
along our quiet way.
The trees and shaded banks slide by, and for these few hours
suspended beneath the sky, time and life itself
become a liquid dream

Ancient Memories - Ricky Stilson 

I have known the hills and trees
Here for as long as I have known life.

My heart’s home is still Chemung,
no matter where my travels have taken me,
when I close my eyes to rest
or to seek an inner peace,
I am transported to the land of the Gayogoho:no.

I grew from vegetables planted by my father,
a tribute to Iroquois’ Three Sisters,
though he did not know the homage he paid;
perhaps Mother Earth spoke silently to him as well.

I am part of this land, it is part of me.
I explored its hills and creeks
before cable captured youth.
As you zoom past Chemung,
on ugly concrete next to Iroquois highway,
look at those round ridges of hills surrounding you.
I know them all as well as I know my child’s face.

The hills are testimony to icy plows
of a forgotten age
and the irresistible trumpet of
Little Big Horn.
Can you hear the music, even now?
be silent and listen, for the mighty instrument
moves quietly,
close on our heels.

The Chemung, A Love Story - Kaye Newbury
I come from my Susquehanna's beloved West Branch.
But this is the place I know through each of you,
ever changing, deepening my heart.

Early on, we traveled long on sidewalks, past houses
taking the steep climb on uncut grass,
your short legs working hard.
Cresting the dike, we'd stand sniffing the air
listening to wind caught in tall trees between us and the curving river.

Then down we'd go, sometimes rolling to the bottom,
sometimes running, always laughing.
Upright, we'd steady ourselves and walk to the bank checking the color, the speed, the depth
shiny green, spread out and running smoothly milky brown, rushing toward town
bluey clear, playing in sunshine.

In Summer, during low water, we'd venture out past our usual shoreline picking up slate and limestone covered with dried mud, seeking fossils that we stuffed in our pockets as the treasures they are. In one small clearing we walked with careful quiet, bending low to see hopping sand toads, some as small as your fingertips.

We invite you to submit your river poem for possible inclusion in our site.
Please email your poem, with your consent, to RiverFriends@stny.rr.com.