Thoreau Upon the Merrimack — POEM

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Thoreau Upon the Merrimack

it’s 3 p.m. and a Friday

I’m stroking with urgency

within my sleek kayak

upon the placid waters

of the Delaware & Raritan Canal


they let us out early on Fridays

from profane corporate halls

to honor summer weekends

but I honor Henry Thoreau


who counted the day lost

when he did not spend several hours


sometimes taking to his canoe

for day after endless northern days


I envy him both boat and brother

time, and strong arms for rowing

upriver all the way

from Concord to Concord


but most of all, I covet

his finding a “foundation

of an Indian wigwam

— perfect circle, burnt stones

bones of small animals

arrowhead flakes

— here, there, the Indians

must have fished”


in my life at its best

I row with Thoreau

6 thoughts on “Thoreau Upon the Merrimack — POEM

  1. I like this poem very much. The one over-editorializing note for me is “profane”. I’d prefer a concrete adjective. But that’s just me being extra picky as I always am with excellent poems. With not so good poems I let that stuff slide.

  2. Penelope, thank you so much. I know, ‘profane’ stands out, but at the time this was written, I was in the throes of that corporate domain, and no other word would come maybe it will now

    suggestions welcome!

    thanks for your delight in this it’s part of my hunger for the snow to leave the greensward



    • Tari, I appreciate your strong connection with this poem. I feel almost undeserving to accept it, as this poem was ‘given to me’, after submersion, yet again, in Henry’s books. When the world, especially political realities! — is too much with me, I turn to Henry. I think he taught me to notice…

      Thank you, always, for your fellowship!


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