up in the mountains

stopping for coffee

feeling the thin air bite

cold on my fingers tongue

rushing in for warmth

snow ice all around

thin guy hanging around

sell you a blanket bud?

white buffalo


forty bucks?

& too intent on coffee

getting to the warmth

I passed up the chance

on the great white buffalo

now when I hear Nugent

I know the river came close

& I passed it by

but for a few seconds

the call of warmth coffee

that could be mine


looking down

from the mountain above

on Bilbao

the river snaking through

in from the sea

the docks are going now

when I first came

thirty years ago

these were dark dangerous places

herri batasuna graffiti on all walls

where you went only

if you were on a mission

for a score

a whore

for blood

& now

they are building apartments

housing for rich people

where warehouses once stood

it’ll come to you

somewhere out in the woods

by the thin river

I found the old man

sitting loose

leaning against a stump

whittling on a piece of tree

he smiled asked of me

you got any water son?

so I settled nearby

I’m making me a stick he told

to help me get out of here

ran out of water

kind of everything really

I thought I was easy

forgot I was no longer spry

the things they don’t tell you

about this getting old

is it all catches up on you

taking an easy walk in the woods

becomes a trial

something life threatening


but I was young then

could only smile offer help

he took the water

& fell into step

as we walked out to safety

for him

while for me it was only

to a place I’d been

too seriously

oh man

we spent some years together

growing up getting drunk

doing what we could for fun

& then you got take yourself

all serious doing some

you felt important job

& we went along

for a little while more

until the sunny day

we went to the river

flew out on the rope

just hanging there

& you swung out

hadn’t reached high enough

hit the bank with a great bang

& you never forgave us

for laughing right out loud

& that’s how

we remember you now

not the great kid good ideas

but the growed up man

who took himself

too seriously

finding the river

I wanted to drink the water

or was it to cry?

all I know is

I wanted something

to end this dry

thinking over you

you would never again

come by

with your laughter

your loving

help me be satisfied

& this is what life is

each one of us goes

each one of us dies

& I know I told you

I loved you

or how much I tried

& I know

I cannot say this

in your ears

ever again

no matter how I try


poling down the river

early Sunday morning

slightly hung over

needing another drink

curving through

our favourite bends

& coming the other way

a family in a beat up

hire borrowed canoe

& the kid in the middle

in his excited voice says

we just saw a dragon fly!

& we nod & smile

while a buzzard over our head flies

we paddle on

hearing the younger kid

soft growing distant

wonder if there are crocodiles?

& I soft whisper to her

we were saying babe

we don’t have a lot of luck

but the truth of it


we do

walking by the river

thinking in shades

when I walked here with you

a little romance

some sweet summer loving

on a warm afternoon

& I wanted to keep you

but you were afraid to give

& that holding inside

scared of being alone

left me nothing but lonely

oh the irony of sweetness

what one keeps hidden

gets you overthrown

& the water slides by

I can see gin clear

the sand & stone on a rocky bed

that was us then

& I wonder

hope you have grown

found your way

to the sea


one of those

dead Chinese fellas said

something like

you can’t push the river

& I was thinking

that is so much like the poesy

though you can dam it up

drink it deep if it don’t stink

divert it to propagate

starve your enemies

alter the course of history

harness the energy

to drive machinery

do the necessary stuff

float your boat on go upstream

wade deep or swim

even drown

but that’s just the river